I created my first blog back in 2005 while I was at university. I had come across a number of blogs that I enjoyed reading and looking at the design of them. I wanted in on the game, a means of having my own piece of the internet, a way of learning about web design, and a place to write. It became a bit of a hobby, one which I enjoyed and one which I have battled with trying to regain over recent years.
The last few months have been interesting on the internet. There has been an increasing awareness that the large social networks create a bit of a cauldron. A boiling pot of likeness. The ability of sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn what kind of things you are interested in means they continually surface things that you like and are interested in. It’s a logical behaviour, but it’s one which lacks the ability to show you what people outside of your bubble are actually thinking and saying. They create controlled environments that perpetuate similar trains of thought.
Services like Medium also serve similar purposes, they want you to use their website and app as your only source of finding new content on the internet. It uses similar techniques to the bigger social networks and it presents it in a largely homogenised appearance to make it all look the same and give it the same visual voice. It takes ownership of your content and with it adds your voice to that bubbling pot of likeness.
There’s a big danger to that boiling pot. Each person ends up with their own, fed by similarity and linked to other similar pots by the content that fits them both. It takes away discourse. It takes away reason. It takes away the ability to have conversation and the ability to disagree well. It leads to a world where different opinions are denounced as bigotry, especially when they are contrary to the popular culture of the time. It’s something I am beginning to see more and more of, and something which I am beginning to feel influence my own thinking. That’s why I’m starting to see a fresh how important it is that we keep the web open. That we keep the ability to post to our own corners of the web and share it with those we know and in public domains that are easy to find. It’s why we need bloggers.
The problem is, that many people don’t see themselves as bloggers. It’s a geeky past time, that’s seen as old hat and no longer the done thing. What’s most interesting is that anyone who uses sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, are bloggers. Posting a tweet is a blog post. It’s a small one granted, but at it’s essence that’s what it is. Likewise with Facebook, any status posts, notes or whatever other myriad of things you can post originally to the site, are at their essence blog posts. We are all bloggers, whether we are aware of it or not. The difficulty is that we need to find ways of encouraging people to post these things to their own sites first, to take ownership of their thoughts and opinions, no matter how long they are. This is why I’m so excited by services like Micro.blog which encourage you to start your own Twitter-like personal site, which you own and can direct to other places. I’m not just excited by the idea of encouraging people to own their own posts, but by the fact that it could, like it is doing to me, get people interested in the idea of sharing their own thoughts and opinions in longer form as well. That’s what the web was built on. It’s what the web needs.