Over at Buzz Canuck, there’s an intelligent post on the general lowering of the quality of blogging and the terrible ‘in crowd’ posts from even high quality bloggers in the community. I know even my own professional building of social networking sites is contributing to this attempt to make updating easy, and thinking less time consuming. But there is a fine balance between using social networks to stay in touch and using social networks to cogitate. I have frequently used my blog in the past to consider the range of issues affecting the media landscape but rarely receive responses (when I do, I am more appreciative than the posters realise, but they probably never hear that from me). The trouble is that the fewer responses you get mean the less likely you are to continue posting long and detailed responses. (This is partly why blogs such as Mark Bahnisch’s Larvatus Prodeo works, because it has a high-traffic, high-engagement participation, but probably most importantly it has a relatvely high number of individual posters, who are committed to developing pithy responses to the political and social landscape.) But among the individual bloggers, the temptation to reduce the quality of thought and increase the production of widget oriented posts (such as twittering and status updates on Facebook) represents more of a sign of concern about ‘blogging in the workplace’, taking too much of free/family time up in blogging and yet still demonstrating a need to ‘stay in touch’.
Whilst the thought behind something like Pat Kane’s notion of developing a ‘Play Ethic’ is profoundly valuable, there is an intermediary step that needs to be taken to legitimise the act of deep blogging. Social networking advocates should probably consider advocating the use of detailed blogging as an aggregation of data similar to a traditional STEP or PEST scan (a business environment analysis, not a search for cane toads). I conduct these scans at least once a week to stay abreast of changes in the sector, new technologies and new changes in laws relating to my business. Without it, I could not perform as I have done in the marketplace.
It comes back to allocating time to social media. This is work. It’s not just articulating to an undifferentiated mass. It is a means of clarifying ideas and creating new opportunities for understanding, new applications, new mashups, new business. So the old bloggers – myself included – may need to consider using the Ideosphere proposed in the Buzz Canuck article as a space for innovation incubation rather than a self-indulgent waste of time. And rather than reducing our social networking activity to mere link farming through facilities such as del.icio.us (still my favourite tool), we need to begin to make sense of what we note, and play a part in a much broader, open-source-oriented innovation age.