In The growing shift from blogs to Facebook, Andrew Bartlett explains why he is blogging less and tweeting or facebooking more. I have commented on this trend among some long term bloggers before.
Without repeating past arguments, my feeling is a little different. Blogging has been affected, there is just so much time, but Facebook is Twitter's real victim. To my mind, Facebook has peaked. But that's a story for another post!
I have mentioned the Mapping Online Publics blog before. It continues to report on attempts to map activity in the public internet space, with a special focus at present on the use of Twitter in crises.
One major distinction between blogs and alternative forms of expression lies in the way blogging allows for deeper analysis. Lorenzo's Thinking Out Aloud is an example. As an example, consider these two posts on the decline in the influence of Boston's Roman Catholic Church:
I had a particular interest in reading them because of the writing that I have been doing on social change in Australia's New England.
Pauline Kneipp's This Land of Promise. The Ursuline Order in Australia 1882-1982 (University of New England History Series 2, Armidale, 1982) records the waves of change that swept the Ursuline Order in Australia partially as a consequence of of Vatican II. Kenneth Dempsey's Conflict and Decline: Ministers and laymen in an Australian country town (Methuen Australia, North Ryde, 1983) shows how social change affected the Methodist Church's Uralla circuit. Mathew Jordan's A Spirit of True Learning:The Jubilee History of the University of New England (University of NSW Press, Sydney, 2004) discusses the decline in religious feeling at the University of New England, previously Australia's most religious campus.
There is a tendency to equate the problems in the Roman Catholic Church to sexual scandals. However, the changes that I am talking about in a New England context all pre-dated later scandals and affected all forms of religious expression. They were symptoms of broader social changes.
On 24 March I reported on 2011 Best Australian Blogs Competition. I had some queries about the form to be filled in. Here Rose Powell, Communications Coordinator for the competition advised:
The form is mainly to get to know the blogger a little more, as well as find out why Australian's a blogging. With over 370 entries, it's a rare opportunity to gather comments on why people write online so much.
370 nominations with just under a week to go! While I found the nomination form a nuisance, this blog was nominated by KVD but I still had to fill out the form, I hadn't thought of Rose's point. I would encourage people to nominate.
One of the constant worries of those of us who write to explore our own views, to teach or explain, is simply the question what if no-one comes? What if they are all off facebooking, twittering or just going out with friends?
Consider this picture from Gordon Smith's lookANDsee. It's just an old plough in the New England bush. Yet that plough tells a story. The river flat - Morgan's Flat - is surrounded by high hills. To get it there, it had to be carried in. Now it lies abandoned. Indeed, it is unclear that it was ever used. The photo hints at past human hopes.
At this level, blogging is about content, content, content. It provides a depth of content, of ideas and resource material, that simply cannot be matched by either Twitter or Facebook. Being fair, Facebook does have great content, but it can be more difficult to find and, in most cases, there is uncertainty about re-use.
Blogging is also about people and interactions. Now here one might argue that Facebook and Twitter clearly focus on this, and so they do.
The first big distinction is that blogging is public record. Twitter is too, but Facebook is not. Yes, there is public record Facebook material, but much is not. The uncertainty about use is one aspect that I have referred to. A second is that the core focus of Facebook is personal.
In the public sphere, I respond to Legal Eagle though her blog postings. In the Facebook sphere I respond to Katy B though her comments about life and family.
The two are very different. Blogging is still personal. I know, for example, that Gordon Smith's partner is New England romance writer Bronwyn Parry.
This is a photo taken from across Bronwyn's sewing table. You can see the country linkages with Gordon's photo.
While blogging is personal, it is personal within limits. This is public conversation, the things that we choose to share with the world. Sometimes we make mistakes, but most of us remember.
Twitter, too, is public. But this is short stuff, brief comments or links. Twitter provides a vehicle for keeping in touch, for instant participation or links. But it does not meet the fundamental need for deepening interaction, for thought. It is just another example of the just in time that dominates so much of modern life.
It is no longer possible within the variety and complexity of the blogging world to follow all the people that I want to in detail. This is an especial problem for serious bloggers like Lorenzo. I simply can't give him the credit he deserves!
I have broad interests. I also write a lot. That takes time. So I browse and select and try to give credit when I can.
The following photo from Clarence Valley Today, another of my favourite New England photo blogs, shows a dolphin jumping.
The brilliance of blogging, and I think that this will continue, is that it allows us to tell stories outside the constraints imposed by other media forms. And that's fun!