R.I.P. Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon was one of those services that I loved to talk about on my blog or during a conference presentation back in the ’00s when describing the glorious democratized future that web2.0 would bring us. Twitter was still a texting service called twttr and Facebook was still at Harvard. You could edit the CSS on your MySpace page and make your profile ugly. We all had blogrolls. Forums still mattered and mods were there to keep the conversation in line. It was a fun and engaging period of time to be on the web. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as I thought they would and here we are in the Digital Dark Age of commodified social interactions and proprietary human farms built on the back of unmoderated advertising based on avarice and attention.

I wasn’t a particularly heavy user of Stumbleupon, but it was a fun service that helped me discover quite a few sites and resources over the years. I’m sad to see it go.

But now there’s no more of Stumbleupon’s pure, unadulterated content. All we have is angst-filled social media with a new monster around every corner. Sad stumbling through the interwebs now, everyone. Sad stumbling and watch your step.

Source: Stumbleupon died right when we needed it the most

Defending the Liberal Arts

Long overdue…

The new statement offers a counterargument to the notion that the liberal arts are impractical, and perhaps unnecessary. The disciplines, it argues, increase students’ curiosity, prepare them to be lifelong learners, and offer a foundation for academic freedom. As a result, the associations argue, the benefits of the liberal arts should be available to “all college students and not solely a privileged few.”

— Read on www.chronicle.com/article/2-Associations-Forcefully/243544

Blogging Isn’t Dead

I’d have to disagree with this…

Blogging is Dead – But Long Live the Blogosphere – exploreB2B: “While the thought process remains the same today (‘Here is what I think, read my blog’) – the effect is minimal, if anything at all. A viewer may read an article on your blog, maybe even find it interesting, but then never return. Memory of the author, ideas in the post (and certainly the URL), are long forgotten amongst the array of activity online.”

The main reason I would disagree with the sentiment that “blogging is dead” is because it isn’t. Sure, the concept, tools, and way we write our blogs today have changed since the inception of blogging back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but blogging is far from dead.

Even though people aren’t doing the type of hyper-personal blogging which they were doing back in the late 90s and early 2000s anymore, blogging as a medium is still very valid and a great way to carve out your own space on the web. Blogging is a key part of what we consider the open web since it uses “old-school” components like RSS and a blog isn’t a walled garden you have to log into. The type of trade-offs you have with walled gardens such as Facebook are nonexistent when you start your own site given that you run it on your own server, etc. It’s a geeky process and takes a little bit of heavy lifting here and there, but it’s worth it considering that you keep control over what you do.

I started my first blog (and I still write there) on a whim back in July 2011 and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done on the web. The magnificent thing about writing your own site is that you can learn so much from others and yourself. You practice and become a better writer and as you devote a little more time to it here and there, you learn about a few other things too (like design, SEO, moving things around on a server, and what you should and shouldn’t put on a site). Looking back at some posts I wrote in 2011 and last year, I have to cringe and scratch my head a great deal, but that’s part of the learning process that comes with anything on the web.

I’ve learned a ton and continue to learn from writing my own site and writing here on MarketingTrends. I’ve blogged elsewhere in the past, but there’s something about writing your own blog that’s so satisfying and in a way, fulfilling to yourself as a writer and user of the internet. While folks who say that blogging is dead have a point because the way we view blogs and publishing in 2013 has changed and adapted a lot over the years, declaring blogging “dead” isn’t justified. Blogging, while old-school (also see email marketing and RSS, neither of which are “dead”), is still one of the best ways to build a solid reputation and name for yourself on the web.

I’d say the feeds that I’m subscribed to in my RSS reader of choice (currently ReadKit) are a solid 50/50 split between bigger sites and smaller blogs written by folks in the industry or just people whose stuff I enjoy reading.

One of the first things I tell anyone looking to go beyond the walled garden principle on the web is for them to go buy a domain name. It’s dead simple and pretty inexpensive. If they want to go beyond that, I’d tell them to go get their hands dirty with a hosted solution first (Tumblr is great for this and I also love Shareist) and eventually move their stuff over to a self-hosted WordPress site (or Movable Type if you’re into that). With all the things we have at hand in 2013 (Squarespace, WordPress, etc), there’s no excuse for why you shouldn’t have your own space on the web.

“And if your words are good, people will read them.”

Thanks for reading our blog.

Devin

Architectures of Participatory Learning

But the meat of the argument is about how the best explanation for many of the group phenomena we see online, from ICanHazCheezburger to Wikipedia, is that people like sharing with each other and collaborating. Not always, of course. But there are architectures of participation that encourage the kind of sharing and generosity that enriches us all, and by experimenting with them, we can create media and social change that harnesses millions of people to help and amuse each other.

Just got this on my Kindle/iPad/Desktops/iPhone (have I mentioned I love the type of portability the Kindle platform offers and hope that iBooks can replicate that type of cross-platform experience?) and can’t wait to dig in today.

I’m a big Clay Shirky fan (click the link if you need a sample), and I’m hoping this book, along with Daniel Pink’s ongoing work, becomes a pointer I can use when folks ask about the “effectiveness” of my teaching style.

I love the idea of the Teacher/Learner as an Architect. There’s something inherit about teaching that lends itself to the type of mystical and very practical practices of masons-meet-Howard Roark.

We’ll see and I’ll, of course, keep you posted.