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The future of blogging

Posted by Andrew Cooper on June 25, 2009

arrowHere’s Charles Arthur in today’s Guardian noting that ‘the long tail of blogging is dying’ and explaining why.

My feeling is that blogs which serve a very specific purpose – like keeping relatives and friends in touch with an overseas trip – or reporting on a live event or TV programme will continue, not least because it’s much easier to integrate photos, sound and video that it is with Twitter.  But both of those applications are time limited and targeted at a specific audience.  Perhaps it’s the long-term ‘blog as a journal’ that will tend to die out, not least because – as Arthur points out – they need a lot of work.

Blogs and Twitter feed a basic human need to communicate, but those who can meet their needs with the least resources tend to win – in evolution, at least.  It’s taken over 5 minutes to write this, find the links and post it.  A ‘retweet’ of Arthur’s original Twitter post – which is how I learned about the article –  took about 10 seconds, including adding (within my 140 characters) a note that most of the social media commentariat I’ve been following via Google Reader have drastically cut down on their number of blog posts.


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Cognitive surplus and government policy

Posted by Andrew Cooper on January 29, 2009

In my review of Here Comes Everybody I pointed out that I was surprised that Clay Shirky didn’t have more to say about the connection between cognitive organisation and the business of government.  The premise of the book is that the social media enable us to ‘organise without having organisations’.   Government is, of course, all about organisation: agreeing rules, deciding how to implement and fund them, allocating responsibilities, raising funding and so on.

Yesterday I posted a comment on the article here, at Emma Mulqueeny’s blog, on this topic. She’s one of a number of people working in/with government organisations in the UK to help them make better use of social media: blogs, wikis, discussion forums, Twitter and so on.  To cut a not very long story shorter, I think that the main reason the exploitation of these technologies – and of the internet/web in general – hasn’t been quite as exciting as it might has little to do with the technology itself and everything to do with our system of government here in the UK.  Although we like to think of ourselves as having one of the world’s oldest democracies the influence and involvement of the general public, as opposed to pressure groups, business and other vested interests – has always been rather low.

It needn’t be like that.  The nature of the engagement isn’t about technology, though.  Here’s a good example of engagement.   Here’s a bad example which includes the nice phrase ‘fake listening’ which neatly sums up the very worst kind of engagement. To use one of my least favourite words, this is all about ’empowerment’ and on the whole politicians aren’t in the business of  empowering.  All that carefully collected political capital buys them – and the interest groups closest to them – power.  They aren’t about to hand it back to us any time soon.  They need to remember that fake listening is by far the worst kind of listening: most people would rather not be listened to at all.

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