Hybrid Content And The Questions It Poses For Blog Functionality
In keeping with the largely incestuous posts of lateTom Coates has a good post on the trend toward hybridising RSS feeds using Feedster and the like. As RSS feeds become mainstream the ‘types’ of content that people are putting into their feed has altered. It often gets messy. There are three main ‘types’ of blogged content: text based journal entries, images and links. The rise and rise of link-logging [primarily through delicious which is responsible for a whole new way of archiving and a new flow of information] is particularly interesting and powerful in its effect on weblogging functionality:
This was the time that saw the emergence of what I call microcontent voting. The more people linked to something, the more people saw it, obviously – but now it was becoming an exponenial relationship rather than a linear one. This was because of the newly significant presence of aggregators like Blogdex, Daypop, Popdex, Technorati. Now there was an effective feedback loop – if something got the attention of a certain number of people in the ecosystem, it would be brought to the attention of even more. A site that got only a few links could be at the top of the aggregators within a day, and experience thousands of visits immediately.
The links had – in part – ceased to be just something you did individually and instead became something that you did as part of a community that one way or another helped information bubble up. I think this found its best expression to date in Hotlinks, which I really think needs only to be abstracted into a more generic service to take over the world.
So the form of the linklog content dictated a new functionality that weblogs weren’t particularly adept at dealing with: Typepad had to use a workaround to bring in dynamic content in its templating system [It’s still not easy for a ‘novice’ user to integrate]; and you couldn’t get a sense of how this link meme was networked. Moreover, it annoyed a whole heap load of people who were used to writing and reading in a certain way: it broke blogging social norms as well as blog functionality. It doesn’t help that RSS readers don’t offer ‘filters’ for different ‘types’ of content [probably because the content itself is readily tagged inthis way – how would you tell the difference between a link log post and a ‘normal’ post?] and most people don’t categorise their content in the feeds.
Tom goes on in one of the comments to the original post:
we broke up our weblogs across different platforms to improve our
ability to manage certain types of content but still pump it out in an
easy-to-archive, well-organised consistent weblog-style format. But at
the moment our aspirations and the reality of splicing these systems
together are far from the same…
So how are people dealing with this? Well from my use of the interweb it seems that people are starting using seperate feeds for different content forms. But it is less than ideal – as tracking use becomes harder and a blog often functions as a "identity portal" – it’s ‘you’. And if ‘you’ is fractured it changes the concept of what the blog is ‘for’, no? Anyway, there are some really interesting questions that this throws up – namely on the concept of blogging [what it ‘means’ to the people that do it – the ‘why’?], how MSN Spaces and the mainstreaming of blogging is changing it’s use, and the functionality that personal CMS need to start employing… as an aside quite some people I know have moved away from blogging software per se to livejournal as it offers more of a ‘community’ of diarists/writers rather than a disparate group of indivdual bloggers posting all manner of stuff.