I’ve been a fan of Dave Winer’s for years, and I’ve always enjoyed his “Blogger of the Year” post because I would normally learn about a new blogger or be reinforced about a feed in my reader. Not only that, but it was an annual reminder that blogging is a worthy endeavor in itself despite how out-of-style it is to call yourself a “blogger” or your personal site a “blog” in 2014.
This year, I was sad to see the BOTY award go to Facebook bloggers…
So, in 2014, Facebook has picked up the ball for blogging. It’s definitely not what I imagined, and I’m not comfortable with where it might be going. But for now, in 2014, the bloggers this year, that made a difference to me, came to me through Facebook.
I’m not disappointed out of some sense of the original blogging holding up expression on Facebook as some sort of selling out or a slap in the face to the “indie web.” Dave certainly isn’t the first to espouse the benefits of blogging on Facebook as an enjoyable experience compared to what blogging has become on a web dominated by clickbait and Squarespace sites. For instance, my good friend Wayne Porter once had a great blog (and he helped hire me to run one that he started back almost 15 years ago). Now, he posts a number of great posts and thoughts and links on Facebook. I still get to see those and frequently respond there with others. But it feels different and I don’t know why. It doesn’t feel like Wayne’s old blog any more than Dave’s posts feel like his work on Scripting.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s neat to see Batman pop up in Metropolis to help out Superman in a random issue of a DC comic. However, it never feels like a Batman comic. Batman has his own space(s). That’s where I really get to see his successes and neuroses. I want that experience in the people that I’ve “subscribed” to in my feed readers and really value as sources of quality content and information. That can happen on Facebook, and it certainly does in the case of Wayne and Dave, but I miss the good ole days of personal blogs (and I still think we’ll go back to them in the near future) as the place to read blogging.
I could argue with myself that reading in a feed reader is somewhat akin to what Facebook provides (without the wider audience). I’m altering the experience of reading Dave’s Scripting.com site by subscribing to it in Fever or Feedly or FeedWrangler. I’m not going to the site and seeing the way he deliberately structures content, images, outlines, and information. I’m possibly missing out on comments from other readers. That’s all true. However, Facebook seems like a different blog reading experience to me because of their algorithm. I’m presented with what Facebook wants me to see based on my previous actions and those of others. That’s great for some, but I don’t want a curated algorithmic blog reading experience.
Heck, I even miss Robert Scoble’s blog (the King of Facebook evangelism in 2014, who I blame for all of this).
Years ago, Dave started talking about the notions of rivers in blog reading. From what I remember, I’ll paraphrase him as saying that RSS Readers like the now defunct and much missed Google Reader weren’t that great for blogging because they treated blog reading like an email inbox with unread counts etc. Blog reading became yet another thing to do (or hire an intern to do) for us back in the day. Rivers of information, however, should have flowed by us. We could dip in when we needed or wanted to, but there wouldn’t be the need to read every post. Twitter helped push this paradigm ahead (I still remember trying to read every tweet that I’d missed while sleeping back in 2006). To me, it feels like blogging and blog reading on Facebook distorts this notion of a river or stream of posts and info even more because posts that you see are derived by some magical algorithm in the sky that curates what you see based on math that we’ll never be privy to know.
I’m probably wrong here, and it really doesn’t matter. The world spins on, continues to go around our star, and our way of sharing thoughts and ideas will continue to change along with our still young species. But the idea of my Batmen and Supermen blogging on Facebook makes me sad. Being able to express that here on my blog makes me happy.
Now I just hope Wayne and Dave don’t unfriend me on Facebook, so that I can continue reading their posts there.