Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category

Has RSS Gone Mainstream?

Monday, May 21st, 2007

RSS IconNot even close. The technology is status quo among bloggers and the blogosphere alike. It is even used by the majority on online news agencies and portals. But it has yet to reach widespread adoption among the general public.

This question came about when I pondered whether RSS was now common knowledge or whether it still lived in the web 2.0 echo chamber as we know it…

So I tried my ‘web 2.0 test’ on a couple of friends. I asked if they knew what RSS was and what RSS stood for. In all case, the first answer was ‘no’ and the second was ‘no idea’. This proved to me that RSS has not broken into the mainstream and has a long way to go.

So why is taking so long to reach a critical mass?

My guess is not because the technology is overly sophisticated or complicated to use. It is more of a question of perception. The ‘perceived’ complexity of RSS is what intimidates people and dissuades them from using the technology. The concept of ‘pulling a content feed’ is not difficult to grasp. The terminology and context placed around the system is what deters most people.

If an attempt can be made to humanize the technology and make it more user-friendly, my guess is that the adoption rate will skyrocket as people begin to realize the true benefits and advantages. The day my parents can understand the notion of ‘pulling a feed’ or even ‘feed reader’ will be the day I know RSS has made it.

Twitter is the Future of Blogging

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Twitter logoThere… i said it. Twitter is the future of blogging. Why do I say this? Because Twitter prides itself on the downfalls of blogging. It streamlines the process and simplifies the concept.

What are the biggest downfalls of blogging? Why do people stop blogging or just give up on it? The two main reasons, in my opinion, are:

  • Not enough time (i.e. can’t post on a regular ongoing basis; too time-consuming)
  • Run out of material/content/topics

Twitter overcomes these two main hurdles, albeit not directly. People have been waiting for something like this to come along. And now they have something to sink their teeth into.
Obviously, posting a one-liner isn’t exactly an in-depth, researched blog post. But this is something different. Instead of posting quality content on a frequent basis, you are posting lesser quality content on a much more frequent basis. But let me backtrack and rephrase that. The ‘lesser quality’ content isn’t necessarily useless or without merit. It is all about reference points and relevance. By that I mean that the closer you are to the publisher and/or the better you know them, the more relevant the Twitter tidbits will be. Those unfamiliar with the publisher may likely find little value in the content.

In essence, Twitter is only useful as a personal blogging tool. Value is derived from relevance. Only if you are familiar with the Twitter user does the system provide usefulness. An exception is centered around celebrities and famous people, whom everybody wants to know what they are up to at any given point. But even then, we can relate to them as we see them on TV, hear them on the radio, or browse them on the Internet.
Having said that, traditional blogging is not dead. But the blogosphere will evolve into a much more editorial space. Fewer ‘personal blogs’ will be appearing. Instead people will turn to the most efficient and effective tool for such communication - Twitter, or something similar. Piggy-backing of the trends of text messaging and SMS have vaulted this start-up into the stratosphere.

Twitter will reign supreme. They took a simple concept and didn’t cloud it with extras. They kept it simple. People don’t have a lot of time in their day (or so they say), nor do they want to write a long, tiresome post. Twitter takes no time and no thought. Just tell us what you are doing RIGHT NOW.

Google Launches iGoogle - No, It’s Not an Apple Thing…

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

iGoogle logoLast week, Google officially launched iGoogle. This is nothing overly dramatic. It was a simple rebrand of the old Google IG with some added features, including comprehensive widget support. Google is looking to make a splash in the personalized, AJAX homepage space, which is dominated by such players as Yahoo, Netvibes, and Pageflakes.

What intrigues me the most is the new name… iGoogle. Of all the names Google could have chosen, they went the ‘Apple route’ and chose to throw an “i” in front of their brand. A smart move? Or a blatant attempt at jumping on the bandwagon? Who knows… but don’t tell me they hadn’t thought of the potential consequences or discussions that would come about before choosing the name.

I will say that placing an “i” before any word or name has been around on the net for quite some time. In these cases, the “i” was meant to signify “Internet”. But nowadays, everyone attributes the “i” to Apple products such as the iPod or iPhone (lawsuits aside).

Is Google looking to cause a stir and build PR? Is the “i” simply meant to convey the idea of a personalized page? Am I entirely crazy and this post is a waste of time? Any one of these may be plausible. But I would never underestimate or overlook the foresight of this search engine powerhouse.

Will Blogs Replace News Agencies?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Yes and no. Blogs will replace news (as we know it) for those who like to stay on top of the most current headlines. However, some prefer to sit, relax, and don’t mind waiting a day to read the headlines. These folks will not be phased by the speed and reach of blogs. Still, blogs represent others advantages and benefits that non-blog readers should be aware of…

Blogs (and the Internet in general) have turned the world of journalism and reporting upside down. Traditional agencies are scrambling to deal with this new medium. The days of objectivity are gone. Because bloggers are not tied to a news conglomerate or any rules for that matter, they are free to not only report the news but also express their opinion on it. This presents a whole new landscape and realm to the field of journalism.

Phenomena such as independent citizen journalism and moblogging have proven that the power of the crowd is much faster and more responsive than any news agencies will ever be. Anybody can quickly and easily snap a photo or shoot a video and have it online in minutes, if not seconds. Sites like NowPublic and even Twitter are streamlining this process. Add to that the fact that Internet users can pull RSS feeds via a feed reader.

The blogging food chain ensures that the news is disseminated among all levels of blogging. Initially (in most cases), an A-lister reports a story to their audience. Immediately, these folks blog the story and quote the A-lister. This process continues to occur and the story trickles down the blogging hierarchy, gaining an opinion and new angle at every stop. On the positive side, new perspectives and insight may be gained. On the negative side, the story may become so distorted and fragmented that it lacks the fundamental elements of the initial news story.

Contrary to what many believe, I do not think that social news sites, such as Digg or Reddit, will replace their traditional counterparts. This thought crosses my mind: “Just because the users vote something to the front page doesn’t mean it’s current or even a news story”. For that reason, people can discover cool things on Digg, but not browse the newest, most relevant news stories. In any case, surfing random links for hours upon hours is fun too.

My last argument for blogging isn’t really an argument. Rather, it is evidence. In the past, blogs have quoted newspapers on countless occasions. The Chicago Sun said this, the LA Times said that… But now, the tables have turned. Because of the power of blogs, the relationship with readers, and the reputation among A-listers, some newspapers are now quoting blogs! I remember a little while back, the New York Times quoted Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. This was a sign of changing times. Expect this to evolve from a shock, to a fad, to a trend, to the norm.

An interesting thought comes to mind when thinking of the revenue model for online newspapers and agencies alike? Historically, they have charged a subscription fee. But now, people expect things to be free. If a price is involved, the user is gone. It seems that most online news providers are moving to an advertising model. What else can they do?

Blogs and Elections

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Is there any significance between blogs and elections? Maybe not in the past, but I would wager that blogs will play an important role in future elections and politics in general. Having said that, the upcoming U.S. presidential election comes to mind. Candidates who choose to leverage blogs may be at an advantage. Those who choose to ignore this communication vehicle may find themselves behind in the polls come election day.

I had the pleasure of listening to John Edwards’s keynote speech at Gnomedex 2006. He spoke about the future of politics and how the Internet/blogs/podcasting will play a huge role in democracy. Edwards expressed a deep interest in podcasting. He said it would play a vital role in his campaign. Furthermore, Edwards has become known as a Twitter power user. Now, I am a huge advocate of the use of blogs, podcasting, and the Internet in general. But my concern is this: are politicians simply ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ with respect to these technologies? Are they simply trying to appeal to a new (perhaps younger) crowd? Or do they truly believe in the technology and the power that it instills? My hope is obviously the latter of the three.

Having said that, I do believe that blogs can play a siginificant role and have a huge impact if used sincerely and strategically. A full developed campaign, with open communication and a strong support team, can make huge strides on the net and produce exponential effects given the resources at hand. The breadth and leverage of the web cannot be ignored.

Many of the most popular and highest traffic blogs on the net are U.S. political blogs. These sites attract millions of visitors every day. Should a candidate successfully tap these online strongholds, their campaigns would immediately be given a boost. Dissemination of information and PR are two major advantages to any front-runner who succeeds at forging relationships with these online political powerhouses.

Stepping back a bit, the success of the candidate must lie in their platform and their presence. No Internet technology can make up for these important characteristics. Even if a candidate does outline a strong platform, my guess is that the Internet and blogs will sway elections in the future and play a bigger role in politics than people currently realize.