Since blogging emerged as a publishing platform many new ways of interacting has gained traction.
Many new software platforms such as
- Social bookmarking examples: digg, stumbleupon, reddit,
- Social Media flickr, youtube
- Social networking facebook, Myspace
In this arrangement blogging becomes one of the tools along with so many other tools that promote the participation and sharing among web users. These tools are easier to use and allow informal conversation among the participants. They provide much more flexibility of expression and equality among participants. Also, blogs are becoming more like traditional media where the popularity of blogs follow the well known power law in which few blogs get majority of the readers attention. Very similar to 20/80 rule like the traditional news and media organizations. Web promised to bring more participation and equality of participation not morph into another reincarnation of traditional media. If that is the case why do we need another competing media. From economical point of view it is inefficient use of resources.
The fastest growing platform on the web right now is social networking with web sites such as Myspace, Facebook and many others. They allow much more informal interaction among participants and in many ways make it easier to create user profiles and let member use other features offered by these social networking web sites. The main problem is that they are mostly walled gardens and the user are mostly at the mercy of the owners of these platforms.
There are other options like Ning, Elegg and PeopleAggregator that allow users to create their own social networks. Interesting thing is that all these platforms are moving in the same direction when it comes to offering the features. The list of the features offered by these social networking software platforms could be long but it follows the same trend that is
- User Profiles, management of user profiles
- Communication tools such as IM, Chat and e-mail
- Blogging capability through notes
- Social Media capablities through images and videos
- Forums and discussions
- Application that can be added with ease within the user profile
- Lifestreaming through live feeds etc.
What does it all have to do with blogging? The blogging software is also evolving. The blogger platform from Google already allows to add widgets and with Google's friend connect in beta a blog can be transformed into a small social network very similar to what Mybloglog is already offering. The recent release of Typepad Pro goes even further and offers pretty much all the essential capabilities that a social networking platform offers minus lifestreaming that people may be able add in the future through simple browser plugins currently in beta.
Here is the figure that shows the capabilities of their newly release blogging platform
The Pro part of the software platform is essentially all the capabilities that one will find in a social networking platform.
Does this all mean that in the future the blogs will evolve and will become web sites that will essentially be a mini social networking web sites? It seems that way if this trend is any indication of the future.
The availability of inexpensive devices to capture and edit images and videos will make it easier to create user generated visual content. This has already created huge image banks at Flickr web site and according to the compete web analytics Youtube ranks #6 most visited site on the Internet with 62 million unique users per month. The rise of Youtube within few short years shows that video as a medium is more expressive and attracts more attention compared to text based write ups.
Does this mean that future blogs will be created using a hybrid of text,images,videos and interactivity as media? Again it seems that way if we follow the trend.
This however will create a serious generation gap between older people who practiced writing and prefer text and younger people who will prefer images, audio and video as a medium of expression.