While reading/skimming chapters 2 and 3 of Blogging I ended up getting lost thinking about the death of print, Social Network Theory and how our technology dictates social behavior. (Technological Determinism) When I get lost like that I find it hard to grasp what the author is intending to tell me. So today I decided I wouldn’t worry about what she did and concentrate on the connections it forced into my mind.
Retterg starts chapter 2 by pretty much telling us what to expect.
This chapter traces the history of communication and publication as it relates to blogs…Towards the end of the chapter, we’ll discuss how these cultural and technological aspects can be thought of as influencing each other, either by seeing one as leading the way or by seeing them as mutual participants in a process of co-construction.
Why is the history of communication even important? Peter N. Stearns wrote a in his post for the American Historical Association the following.
In the first place, history offers a storehouse of information about how people and societies behave. Understanding the operations of people and societies is difficult, though a number of disciplines make the attempt. An exclusive reliance on current data would needlessly handicap our efforts. How can we evaluate war if the nation is at peace—unless we use historical materials? How can we understand genius, the influence of technological innovation, or the role that beliefs play in shaping family life, if we don’t use what we know about experiences in the past?
If you accept history as important then what does Rettbergs little history lesson mean for the students of en3177? First it shows us communication will not remain static for long as technology changes so does communication. Example: Friendster. (I bet a lot of you have never even heard of it Friendster) The second but more abstract idea is that some things do stay the same. At times there is a constant that carries from one form of communication to the next. These two historical aspects of communication seem benign but for a class called Weblogs and Wikis they are almost everything. Blogs are dying not rapidly but year after year they lose their foothold. An article from the New York times points out what I’ve felt for years. (link)
Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier. Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.
I’m not putting the final nail in poor Blogs coffin just yet. I could be wrong there are many people that disagree with the Times assertions. Narayana Rao in his post titled “Has Blogging Reached Its Peak? No. There is Lot of Headroom Still ” seems to be saying the opposite is true. He feels blogs are strong and have a long way to go before they become outdated. Blogs may or may not be dying at this very moment but someday they will be dead. And that is a concern for those of us in Weblogs and Wikis.
Don’t fret too much Rettberg’s chapter 3 will give us some hope. Social Network Theory is covered well enough to give you just enough knowledge on whats going on behind the scenes to get an idea of why Facebook and Twitter work. Communities and Networks are concepts that tend to be more universial because they are based on human nature and not as dependent on the current technology. Friendster died, MySpace died but Facebook and Twitter took what was constant about communication and moved it to the next phase. People didn’t change that much, our human nature didn’t change that much. All that changed was the tools we used to be social and to communicate ideas. Blogs and blogging are just tools nothing more. If they die content will continue and odds are it will follow human nature. The methods used to build and maintain social networks will come and go but the need for them will not.
Both history and Rettberg seem to be telling me that social media is the key. I could Tweet, Blog, self publish, create a Facebook page of poems it doesnt matter. What matters in the end isn’t the tool I use. Some of the best art in history came from something as simple as a pencil. What matters is the content not the tool so understand your message and use any tool that fits.