MiscGreat description of how blogging has changed

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Mar 242010
 

Fair warning: this post is mostly just a giant quote. :)

Our social media connections represent a spaghetti bowl of decentralized networks for the distribution of content, but the meat of that content typically resides behind a bit.ly link to a site or a blog.

In other words, Twitter and Facebook and Friendfeed gave us a means of circumventing the broadcast-pipe advantages of mainstream media, but these channels weren’t themselves always the thing being communicated. The best perspective on this change came from Robin Sloan, writing at Snarkmarket in January:

There are two kinds of quan­ti­ties in the world. Stock is a sta­tic value: money in the bank, or trees in the for­est. Flow is a rate of change: fif­teen dol­lars an hour, or three-thousand tooth­picks a day. Easy. Too easy. But I actu­ally think stock and flow is the mas­ter metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:

  • Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind peo­ple that you exist.
  • Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the con­tent you pro­duce that’s as inter­est­ing in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what peo­ple dis­cover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, build­ing fans over time.

I feel like flow is ascen­dant these days, for obvi­ous reasons—but we neglect stock at our own peril. I mean that both in terms of the health of an audi­ence and, like, the health of a soul. Flow is a tread­mill, and you can’t spend all of your time run­ning on the tread­mill. Well, you can. But then one day you’ll get off and look around and go: Oh man. I’ve got noth­ing here.

And this is how we have to understand blogs today. Four years ago they were flow, and for a lot of news organizations, they’re still viewed as little more than low-grade, ephemeral dross. But in the real world of the Web, where we are relentlessly building a new-media economy and culture whether we openly acknowledge it or not, blogs are now the stock.

Xark!, “Blogging in the new decade”

For what it’s worth, my “back catalog” of posts way way way outdraws new blog posts on just about every single day. You can see over on the Popular Posts page that longer essays tend to dominate too, barring what are probably SEO quirks on some random posts…

  22 Responses to “Great description of how blogging has changed”

  1. Good quote. This is why I don’t blog frequently on Cuppycake.org anymore, because I feel that I don’t have enough evergreen content I want to have plastered there forever anymore. I am trying to post when I have something to say that I want to exist for later linking. When I have something long and meaningful to say.

    It used to my diary of sorts, where I’d post about whatever was going on in my gaming life. People were never really supposed to enjoy reading it, but for some reason they did. Now I’ve moved that stuff to Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook and I’m not sure where my blog sits anymore.

  2. I agree. Here’s a good post on Twitter. Mark Suster is pretty much spot on with his take on Twitter.

    http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/twitter-101/

    His “Understanding the @ Command” post is particularly useful and when I think about the “stock” on his site, I rate it pretty high. That said, I would have never found him without the “flow” of his posts from one site to another. I think that is key to that aspect. Flow isn’t unidirectional. It needs to weave in and out of the stock (yours and others) leaving a path back to your blog no matter where you encounter the trail. Participating in the community of bloggers that blog about the same subject is pretty critical to me.

  3. @Cuppycake:

    My blog is more professional in nature. My Facebook page is personal. I think that you have to distinguish between the subject matter on each place and mostly stick to that. If you start mingling them together then you realize that one of them is not necessary; usually the one with the smaller audience. Either that or you end up making the distinction naturally by saying, I’m just going to post pictures on Facebook and talk family while post more serious thoughts about games on your blog. Perhaps you haven’t clearly defined why you have both up and running.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Raph Koster, mohibullah. mohibullah said: Raph's Website » Great description of how And this is how we have to understand blogs today. Four years a http://bit.ly/dluQUE [...]

  5. Why try to separate that which is inter-twingled?

    If I only blogged about games, or only blogged about family, or only blogged about politics, or only blogged ideas, or only blogged pictures I found amusing, none of it would make proper sense. You have to take everything into account to get the full picture.

    This is why I blog. It’s not the individual posts that are important, nor the occasional post that attracts wide attention: it’s the whole corpus. If people come to know me through my blog, and through it glimpse how I tick, then it should help in their understanding of what I do. If, 50 years from now, someone wanted to figure out why I wrote MUD, say, they would know from reading my blog; not because my blog ever says so explicitly, but because of what it says implicitly about me.

    You can’t separate art from the artist; you can’t separate the game from the designer. The personal and the professional are, for me, inseparable. That’s why I blog.

    I appreciate that this is not true for everyone, but it is for me. As far as I’m concerned, when I’m blogging on one topic, I’m also blogging on all the rest.

    Richard

  6. 1. “But I actu­ally think stock and flow is the mas­ter metaphor for media today”

    Precisely the means by which stock markets are burgled; giving the appearance of activity to give the appearance of value, draw in investors, then bail before the actual lack of value is detected. The boiler room technique for building followers is fairly common which is why Twitter content has a low stock value.

    2. “You can’t separate art from the artist; you can’t separate the game from the designer. The personal and the professional are, for me, inseparable. That’s why I blog.

    Which means either a) blogs have no art value or b) you are not an artist (at least in that sense). Art that cannot be separated from the artist is not art; it is autobiography. One of the reasons Shakespeare has such value is all we have in the main to understand the art is the artifact.

    The approach quoted above is egotism, brand over product, the heresy of Amarna.

  7. len>Which means either a) blogs have no art value
    Not necessarily; as I said, not everyone blogs for the same reason I do.

    >or b) you are not an artist (at least in that sense).
    Well, it’s not for me to say whether I’m an artist or not; I merely do what I do.

    >Art that cannot be separated from the artist is not art; it is autobiography.

    I disagree. Art is (among other things) expression; in the mind of the artist, an artwork is part of the artist’s soul. Non-artists may not see it that way.

    >One of the reasons Shakespeare has such value is all we have in the main to understand the art is the artifact.

    And the artefact is the man.

    I know that when critics read a text, the text is all they go by. It’s not the same for writing the text, though.

    Richard

  8. in the mind of the artist, an artwork is part of the artist’s soul. Non-artists may not see it that way.

    I don’t see art that way, and as a musician, I’d be considered an artist.

    Also, what type of soul? ;)

  9. Morgan Ramsay>I don’t see art that way, and as a musician, I’d be considered an artist.

    So you don’t put any of yourself into your performances?

    >Also, what type of soul?

    I mean the essence of who you are.

    Richard

  10. There’s more than one way to be an artist and I don’t think the process is amenable to this kind of reduction.

    On the substantive point of Stock vs Flow (really unattractive terms to apply to those concepts, by the way) aren’t we trying to separate the water from the river?

  11. Finally, a fun topic that doesn’t involve health care. :)

    First, Bhag, I don’t think you get what is substantive here.

    The process may be any of a number of processes. The point made is that art that cannot be understood without reference to the artist isn’t art. It is autobiography and insofar as one considers that to be art, it is. I don’t. I consider it branding and self-promotion particularly in the context of blogging or really, writing.

    That said, the best art, IMO, is made of one’s life. It should not be necessary to know that to understand or appreciate, that is respond to the art. I don’t consider blogging where the point of the blog is to increase the extent of one’s brand to be art. A blog that draws on one’s own experience and put into a form that another without that experience can respond to would be art. Here is an example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5XA1kaxch8

    Do you really need details of the events of the photos or the song to understand that? If so, it wouldn’t flow. Why?

    1. The events are 35 years ago.

    2. The closing refrain is not part of the original piece. It was added improvisationally in the studio and is only connected by the time of the recording and it’s inclusion in the artifact. IOW, the biography wouldn’t help or would lead to false assumptions.

    The fact that we really know almost nothing about the ‘flow’ of the Mona Lisa heighens it’s value as art.

    Speaking of process, Felicia Day referenced a Boing Boing piece discussing the role of conversation in art production.

    http://boingboing.net/features/morerock.html

    I half agree with it but only half. I don’t think notes from the executive suite help but I could be wrong and I’m familiar with analysis paralysis; on the other hand, not planning in the majority of cases means a not insignificant number of do-overs. On the other other hand, I consider the refrain at the end of the piece cited above and note it is completely spontaneous. The only way I know to make the Boing Boing approach work is to be very very practiced at improv. It comes down to chops. Would planning improve that? No but practice does.

  12. Question for the mix:

    Pick any famous speech. Is it art?

  13. If the performance is, it is.

  14. Pick any famous speech. Is it art?

    If the performance is, it is.

    All communication cannot be art, for art to be so ubiquitous would devoid art of all distinction. Lines must be drawn.

  15. That’s why I specify the performance. Winston Churchill on a great day was polemic art at it’s best. The problem of emphasizing flow is the adage that 90 percent of anything is crap. Bloggers who insist on blogovating eventually end up either junking it or lifting it from others.

    To me, the quality and consistency as well as the who of the commenters speaks to the art of blogging. If you can start a good conversation you have a winner. Unfortunately the emphasis has moved away from the blog to the bursty social media. Twitter? Not so much. Facebook? Folks are starting to get good at it.

    What do you think about the boing boing article? Not being a game artist, I can’t evaluate that on specifics except to contrast it to other art forms such as song writing and movie making.

  16. The problem of emphasizing flow is the adage that 90 percent of anything is crap.

    90% of stock is crap, too.

    To me, the quality and consistency as well as the who of the commenters speaks to the art of blogging.

    Popularity among intelligensia circles is a measure of art now?

  17. I believe that art IS ubiquitious, and the primary factor that seperates folk art from fine art are the value judgements and preconceptions of the audience.

    I further believe that writing is an inherently artistic undertaking. Even writers who are not conciously trying to create art must deal with artistic elements of rhythm, flow, balance and composition. Writing is the process of arranging abstract symbols to create in the mind of a reader a model of reality. That strikes me as the very essence of the artistic impulse.

  18. Of process, motivations and it’s sister classifications, I agree.

    What I think essential is wholeness. Art engenders a complete experience in the engaged. This is why though my art is made of me, unless the work engages without me, it doesn’t achieve what I wish which is the beloved to be loved. Love is not owed.

  19. funny, how “any” writings on the internet have “become” blogging. changed? well maybe since 1980.-)

    maybe a narrower definition is needed-

    what i believe is that blogging is not writing as in “the communications form used by literate people for millenia.”

    Bloggings is about “quantification” more than “qualification” Its about ‘validation” more than “realization”. Its a media of written/image/information that exists BECAUSE of the monetization-value and networkfication of the RSS feed combined with the totally non contextual nature of the google search.

    blogging is a condition due to technology. as was writing, but other than scribbled letterform i dont see any other simularities. Blogging isnt for humans primary usage, its for the machines..

    Proof?- well look and notice that most/many blogs, HAVE NO comments, only “comments” made by machines-code- notifying other code- of the notifications;) this trend seems to be increasing–

    think about it:)

  20. Proof?- well look and notice that most/many blogs, HAVE NO comments, only “comments” made by machines-code- notifying other code- of the notifications;) this trend seems to be increasing–

    True. I delete far more spam comments than anything else. The conversations have moved to the Facebook pages. I suspect even the commercial sites are beginning to bleed participants. On the other hand, sites such as this one, Jon Taplin etc., are thriving. Sites such as Day’s have huge followings. Wherever there are celebrities of some form, there are butts in seats. For any serious commercial site it is increasingly required to have big names just as with any nightclub.

    That said, my qualification is in the content of the comments. There is huge gap in the quality of the comments here and at Tap’s blog than Felicia’s. In the case of the latter, most of the comments are slather trying to get the smurfette to pay attention but as smurfs will be, they won’t work for it. Tap gets some heavy hitters in industry and finance willing to duke it out for a month on a single thread the result being the comments are often the really valuable content compared to the original post. The art of provocation is alive in blogging but not many are that talented at it and where they are, the following tends to homogenize over time if the post host is a bit of a zealot.

  21. Facebook conversations: you mean where they OWN all your thoughts.?
    monetizing machines– your brains on blogs.;)

    even worse.;)

    truly a generatiosn that grew up “acting/playing out” LOTR rather than reading/grokking it.
    “ONE RING TO RULEZ THEM ALL.;)

  22. It’s ownership is a problem. The face of them selling the data is a problem but then that’s also how Google does business. I’m simply noting the migration of the conversations, a change from ad hoc to local/older social connections following researcher results that say older social connections are the most powerful, the power of celebrity in blogs and tweets (no surprise, but so much for grassroots), and the kinds of talents that are required to sustain a blog over the sorts of theories of flow and content. IOW, some of the flow stuff is BS and reminds me of the games the viral marketing types play on YouTube warping the culture to increase hits. It’s a rather smarmy industry in that aspect.

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