Four Years of Blogging – So What

This month marks my fourth year of writing on this blog. I have posted 265 times, created 147 categories and made 725 tags for all this content. This pales by comparison to tens of thousands of others, and I’m not even talking about the pros. For me this has been and continues to be an enjoyable and helpful activity. I looked back at my notes from four years ago where I scribbled what I wanted to accomplish. There were essentially two buckets. One for personal expression/growth and the other for amplification/readership. I would give myself a sold B for the first one but am at a C- on the second count.

Is it just me or does the term blog sound old now? Certainly this platform has been workmanlike for some time and Word Press has done a spectacular job of adding features and functionality along the way. But I wonder how long it will be before we see blogging and visits to blogs wane. Maybe I’m hoping this will happen so I don’t have to commit all this time. Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook, Google+ have absorbed a lot of content that might have been earmarked for a blog post. Blogs are singular in nature. You sit and write. That’s really hard. Blogs are also a lonely place no matter how many people drop by to read or comment. Blogs are not networks even though links to posts are shared out by the millions everyday. It becomes harder and harder to leave the real time stream of social consciousness experienced in Twitter, etc. and engage with a blog. It’s kind of like zooming down an expressway, grooving on some tunes, then suddenly you find yourself maneuvering city blocks. Photos, videos and even status updates that can be recorded real time and instantly posted with a small caption are more meaningful because they often contain essential context like location and time of day. You go to a blog but the social streams come to you. Yes I know they are different and serve different purposes, but I am thinking more about this these days and am confident a structural shift is in the making.

Sound is going to be bigger than video… ‘Record’ is the new QWERTY.

— Alexander Ljung, Founder and CEO, SoundCloud

I really like this quote, but I would swap out the word sound for voice. It’s the voice that becomes the new keyboard in the evolving digital age. Apple’s Siri, available on the iPhone 4S, has made us aware how powerful the voice is. It’s speak and you hear back from another voice, but it’s paired with visual content and links. Their TV spots frame out most of the actor’s eyes, leaving the lips as the focal point.

Siri is a modern day Sherpa. Let’s hope we keep her safely tucked inside her box and away from the atmosphere, and not repeat the mistakes we made with HAL.

Remember podcasts? In 2005 there were dozens of predictions about how podcasts and podcast listeners would experience explosive growth. The 200 to 2009 Pew Internet Study on daily internet activities has the podcast third from the bottom on usage, barely moving up a percentage point in 8 years. So it’s not sound or voice, it’s interaction that makes things much more interesting. I digress a bit.

Blogging is still enjoyable for me and I’ll probably keep going for quite a while. But some day, it will cease to exist, like so many other content transmitters of the past. My thoughts and ideas will simply find new ways to be expressed. Until then, I’ve still got this blog.

Three Years of Blogging. Really.

Breaking news! Today marks the third anniversary of my first blog post, and you probably don’t care. But that’s the beauty of a blog. People post even if no one cares. The past 1,095 days as a blogger will be remembered by me as both an enriching and challenging experience. One has to face the blank page (screen; I still miss typewriters) and the clock, and try to produce something that is not only readable, but informative and occasionally entertaining. For me, someone who likes to roam free, it has been helpful in forging a more formalized approach to my hobby of watching society and technology become one.

I like to watch things merge and converge, but most of all I like to watch things collide. You can call it a guy thing if you want. When I was a boy I would build model cars and then stage elaborate collisions. I would use flame to melt fenders and doors to make it look more realistic. I wish there had been digital cameras then. No one was harmed in the making of those scenes.

When something tries to occupy the same time and space as something else, it usually results in a release of energy. The result is always interesting and occasionally dangerous. And if you watch closely enough, perhaps even play it back in slow motion, it can reveal the mysteries of the past and open a window to the future.

So what have I learned these last three years? It’s hard to blog. Blogging is writing on deadline. More akin to journalism than manuscript writing. But it’s not who, what, when, where and why. It needs to be perspective, perhaps even controversial, but not insulting (so sensitive these humans). It’s humbling because there are so damn many great bloggers out there. But above all, it’s social.

Comments on my blog keep me going. Occasionally I’ll run into someone at an event or conference and they say, “Hey, I read your blog post about…” That’s like lighting up your synapses with extra epinephrine. No re-uptake inhibitors allowed. I’ve also co-blogged or cross-blogged with some friends, and although it’s more work, it is the best of all blogging experiences. Blogging, despite the fact it is done almost exclusively on your own, in a quiet, empty room, is actually one of the most social things you can do.

There is a very simple and true force of nature at work when you blog that gives credibility to the principle of the Oneness of LIfe and it’s Environment.

If you give freely on your blog, you will receive 10x in return.

Not everyone gets this yet. Especially people steeped in their business as it’s been in the past. For example, yesterday I was in a brainstorming meeting (yes another one) with some very smart people. On a flip chart someone wrote the following words, “What do you want to get out of Social Media?” That’s the wrong question. The right question is:

What are you prepared to share with your community through Social Media?

Give, share, be open, reveal yourself. If you do that, YOU will be happier about this blogging stuff. Forget everything else. Blow it up. Remember, technology is boring, information is useful and people are interesting. But relationships are fascinating. Oh, one more thing. When you blog, collide.

Image by: OnyxBlackman

Lessons Learned from Two Years of Blogging

“Today is my second anniversary of being a blogger,” he said, as the neon applause sign over his head lights up.


October 13, 2007 was the first day I set-up this WordPress blog. Social Media was growing fast and I wanted to learn more about it for business as well as personal reasons. I have always liked to write so it didn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Biggest challenge was what to write about. I felt it was important to have a theme, and so after dozens of tries I came up with “Tracking the convergence of society, media and technology.” A friend who now resides in California made her way back to my blog a couple of weeks ago. She tagged me and my writing with a label; postmodern. I feel it’s a fitting description that I want to spend more time pondering. Hey another idea for a post!

Looking back over these two years I’ve learned some things, I think. Here’s the short list of lessons learned.

  1. Blogging is hard. You get out of the blocks fast, but the longer you do it the tougher it becomes to maintain momentum. Don’t stop. You started for a reason.
  2. You become obsessed over the stats. I found myself clicking back to see if I gained any more readers in the last 10 seconds. This goes away over time with therapy sessions.
  3. There is a temptation to find a new theme or redesign every six months. Evolution is normal. Have at it as it’s your time. But people come for the content not for the design.
  4. Cadence is only mildly important. Believe it or not, no one is waiting for your every Monday, Wednesday and Friday  7:15 am post.
  5. Don’t manufacture posts to stay on a schedule. If you have nothing meaningful to say, you won’t say it and no one will read it. Save everyone the trouble. People can be harmed by careless posts.
  6. Read other bloggers you admire and learn from them. Style, topics, use of images and stats, etc. But don’t develop Blogger Envy.
  7. For the most part stick with your theme, but it’s not taboo to veer off-road once in a while.
  8. Challenge yourself to write better. If you put in the time you will improve, and it will show. Ask an editor to review your work occasionally.
  9. Stop obsessing about the stats. You’re not doing this for the fame or fortune. Really, you’re not.
  10. Above all, be passionate. Boring is boring. Don’t be boring.
Blogger Space
Here's my study, where most of my writing is done. Nice bright space.

CEO Follows Advice of Deity, Decides to Blog

Part II from the Forrester Marketing Forum held in Los Angeles, April 7-9, 2008. Part I, Understanding Customer Engagement is here.

Forrester’s CEO, George Colony led off the second day with a talk entitled Confessions of a CEO Blogger. As he tells the story, he had a dream some years ago in which a deity-like voice spoke to him and said, “start blogging.” He ignored it (not a surprise for a CEO). But with all the fuss and hype blogging is getting these days he started to feel like it might be the right time. After all, two of his top analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff just published a book called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Personally I think he was a little worried about disregarding divine direction.

 George’s confessions are.

  1. No one is reading my blog.
  2. What do you mean once a week? I’ve got a company to run.
  3. Why does blog technology suck?
  4. It’s like speaking into a dark room and not getting any response.
  5. Where’s the money in this thing?

During his presentation he asked one of his analysts and respected blogger, Jeremiah Owyang, to take the mic and explain why he should give away his intellectual property for free on a blog. Jeremiah responded by saying that he thought of his blog as if it was a restaurant. He gives away the appetizers, but hopes people will come in and order the main meal. Obviously George wonders that his business, which is all about research and analysis, might lose monetary value through social networking. Certainly he gets paid to think about these things, and this concern is probably at the heart of why more CEO’s don’t blog.

George gets it, has a great sense of humor, and a sharp mind as you can read for yourself on his blog here. Please read so he doesn’t stop writing. Despite running a big, intellectual organization he is well grounded. A project manager partner of mine attended some Forrester sessions on Monday and then sat next to George at dinner. The report was he went out of his way asking people what they wanted to get out of the forum, and made everyone feel comfortable. When my colleague spoke up, he took a to do note. Impressive.

Bloggers are Dropping Dead. Yikes!

An article in this week’s Sunday New York Times reported on health risks for people who blog incessantly. Two accomplished bloggers recently died. One of a heart attack and the other from a massive coronary. Others say they are stressed out, and as a result gain weight or have sleep problems. This appears to be developing into a serious problem.

Vaguely reminds me of the early Internet years (1997 to 1999) when people started spending a lot of time on the screen. This was completely unexpected, and before high speed access, but the time had to come from somewhere. Surveys reported that people spent less time with traditional media, their families, and in some cases reducing or skipping their normal hygiene routine. OK on the first one, not acceptable on the other two. Get a grip!

Fortunately, most of us didn’t allow surfing the web to destroy our health or families. But it is disturbing to realize that some guys are up 24/7 trying to build a media empire from their home. Can they actually accomplish that? Unlikely.

It’s not worth it guys. If you find yourself blogging a bit too much, follow my MIND mantra. Moderation Is Not Dangerous. I apply it whenever I find myself at the tipping point of being obsessed with something. Food, wine, work, or blogging.

Cartoon Credit: E-mail Marketing Reports