David Weinberger has published a short personal memoir of what blogging meant to him in the early years, and how it contrasted with the media of the day. And he documents the moment at which he started to feel like blogging might not be all that he'd hoped, and where it's ended up now. I've been blogging for 14 years now, and reading David's piece prompted me to reflect as well, and I find myself agreeing with his account of things.
So, were we fools living in a dream world during the early days of blogging? I’d be happy to say yes and be done with it. But it’s not that simple. The expectations around engagement, transparency, and immediacy for mainstream writing have changed in part because of blogs. We have changed where we turn for analysis, if not for news. We expect the Web to be easy to post to. We expect conversation. We are more comfortable with informal, personal writing. We get more pissed off when people write in corporate or safely political voices. We want everyone to be human and to be willing to talk with us in public.
So, from my point of view, it’s not simply that the blogosphere got so big that it burst. First, the overall media landscape does look more like the old landscape than the early blogosphere did, but at the more local level – where local refers to interests – the shape and values of the old blogosphere are often maintained. Second, the characteristics and values of the blogosphere have spread beyond bloggers, shaping our expectations of the online world and even some of the offline world.