Archive for the ‘trends’ Category

What is a Blog? - PART 1

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Instead of spewing out another assortment of posts, I thought I’d take a step back and really mull over the concept of a blog. What is it? What does it accomplish? Why do we take the time to publish them? To many, these answers seem obvious. But upon further inspection, I think that there is more to this concept than meets the eye.

A blog isn’t a one-dimensional tool. It has multiple uses (which I will explore in later posts). But for now, let’s take a look at the definition of a blog from some highly respectable and reliable sources. 

Wikipedia’s definition:

“A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.”’s definition:

“A website that displays in chronological order the postings by one or more individuals and usually has links to comments on specific postings.”

Merriam-Webster’s defintion:

“A Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”

Interestingly,three different sources provide three separate views, especially the last one. Here are some key points to note:

  • The most traditional source (M-W) provides the most dated definition.
  • The concept of a ‘journal’ or ‘diary’ in real life does not provide entries in reverse chronological order.
  • A blog doesn’t necessarily have to have a comment section (ala Seth Godin). Some may argue this point.

All of sudden, what seemed like a clear definition becomes unclear. From my perspective, I think that Wikipedia’s definition, although somewhat vague, provides the most accurate and safe representation. A blog is essentially a “series of posts in reverse chronological order”. End of story. Whether the blog is personal, contains numerous authors, or has a comments section is irrelevant.

How would you define a blog? What do you think constitutes such an entity?

Note: In upcoming posts, we will explore the multiple uses of a blog, as well as the underlying motivation of bloggers.

A Look Back at My Blogging Predictions for 2007

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

In early January 2007, I made 5 blogging predictions for this year. They dealt with a variety of issues and topics from around the blogosphere. Let’s take a look at how I fared. But first, let’s review my predictions:

  1. Perception shift
  2. Bridging the gap
  3. Deeper niches
  4. More full-timers
  5. Increase in blogging tools

(For an in-depth look at each prediction, visit my initial post: Blogging Predictions for 2007.)

So here we go…

Perception shift - Hit - Regular people are starting to associate the concept of a “blog” with something other than a personal journal, i.e. news, analysis, gossip, etc… This shift will not only help in the proliferation of blogging, but also in the understanding the current environment.

Bridging the gap - Miss - I totally missed on this one. In fact, I believe that the gap between the A-listers and ‘the rest’ is increasing in size. After all, there can only be a select few that reign supreme.

Deeper niches - Hit - This one goes without saying. As the number of blogs increases, it is inherent that deeper niches will emerge. Expect this to continue.

More full-timers - Hit - As the mainstream begins to embrace blogs as another media source, career opportunities become real. An expert voice, a loyal following, a lucrative niche, and some targeted ads are a formula for success.

Increase in blogging tools - Hit - We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of blogging tools being created. Companies are providing a whole spectrum of solutions that deal with everything from feeds, to statistics, to search, and much more.

Wow… 4/5 ain’t bad, albeit my predictions were a bit safe. None were overly risky or outrageous. As for 2008, I’m not going to make a list of predictions. However, I can say one thing for sure. More and more companies will be embracing and implementing blogs as a way to reach out to customers and create stronger relationships…

Note: In light, of my last statement, I am going to insert a shameless plug. As of now, I am going to be focusing my consulting efforts specifically on blog consulting under the name Tagzoom. Services range from blog set-up, to blog design, to blog strategy consulting, and more. So, if you’re looking to set-up a blog or are in need of blog strategy consulting, be sure to let me know. Also, please pass this along to anyone else who may need a hand. For more info, visit the Tagzoom site. Thanks for your support.

10 Web Predictions for 2008

Monday, December 31st, 2007

In light of all the recent prediction posts for 2008, I present to you my list:

1. Google misses an earnings estimate; the stock drops a couple hundred bucks a share in one day.

2. An increasing number of mainstream musicians drop their record labels and sell directly online.

3. The term “web 2.0″ is outlawed.

4. The “semantic web” and start-ups in the space continue to stumble.

5. Twitter is acquired.

6. Facebook continues to set the bar and dominate the social networking space.

7. Technorati continues to suck.

8. Open ID takes off; more sites embrace the standard.

9. Google launches a job site (or acquires one… SimplyHired? Indeed?).

10. Wikipedia gains widespread credibility and acceptance.

Bonus: 37signals is acquired (long shot).

What do you think will happen in 2008? Am I on target or way off?

Web 2.0 Critics Are Partially Right

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

The blogosphere seems to have a distinct hatred for web 2.0 critics. These “anti-social media” crusaders, most notably Andrew Keen and Nicholas Carr, have a tendency to openly express their distaste for web 2.0. The naive and uninformed are quick to discredit their opinions and theories. However, the educated take an extra second to ponder their hypotheses with interest and intrigue… 

Let’s face it. Web 2.0 is an echo-chamber. You can use any cliche you’d like to describe it. “Drinking the Kool-Aid” and “preaching the choir” come to mind. At the end of the day, this group of idealistic web enthusiasts is often oblivious and ignorant to the downfalls of web 2.0.

The most commonly cited argument against web 2.0 is the notion of “mediocrity of the amateur”. This notion states that a small number of unique, knowledgeable voices is more powerful than a group of semi-knowledgeable, amateur voices. The most obvious example of this is the perpetual ‘encyclopedia vs. Wikipedia‘ debate.

The concept is more clearly defined in a popular Nicholas Carr post entitled, “The amorality of Web 2.0″. In his essay, Carr clearly outlines his arguments and criticisms of web 2.0. Some are hard to justify, while others are hard to accept. My favourite quote from the post, and one that has stuck with me, is the following:

“… free trumps quality all the time.”

It rings true all over the web. Nobody is willing to pay for anything anymore if there is a somewhat comparable offering available. As noted, this still stands true even if the substitute is of lesser quality. Cost will always edge out quality, especially on the web.

Now, I’m not siding with either party. I’d like to think of myself as an advocate of web 2.0, who is aware of its limitations and potential faults. Lack of an open mind is not only short-sighted, but may also be costly in the business world. I’m not stating that everyone should revolt against web 2.0. Rather, I’m saying that we should all be willing to take a step back and see things from an opposing perspective.

The Evolution of LinkedIn

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

LinkedIn logoAs announced earlier this week, LinkedIn is getting a facelift. The plastic surgeons, otherwise known as web developers, are reshaping the experience in an attempt to create a more ’sticky’ experience. The business social network believes that user engagement and attention need improvement. Therefore, the new launch is focused on creating that ’sticky’ experience that will have users returning on a more regular basis.

As expected (by me at least), the changes look like they drew inspiration from Facebook. Most notably, a ‘news feed’-like feature highlights the home page. Emphasis is also being placed on internal messaging. This function has been given the most prominence on the home page.

Here is a link to a screenshot (courtesy of TechCrunch): New LinkedIn home page screenshot. At present, the new changes are in BETA… of course.

On a side note, the company is looking to launch an API in the very near future as well. Stay tuned for that…

My guess is that LinkedIn was stuck in a conundrum. Like Facebook, LinkedIn placed tight controls on the system. A lack of customization ensured that the network didn’t end up looking like MySpace. However, the company is beginning to loosen their stance on this issue for obvious reasons. First and foremost, Facebook proved that it can be done in an elegant, yet functional manner. So why mess with something that works?

Let’s pull back for a second here. There is an important, recurring trend that I’d like to highlight:

Everything in the social network space seems to be moving in the direction of Facebook. After all, Facebook arguably pioneered two of the biggest advancements in social networking history - the news feed and the platform. These paved the way for huge progress in the industry. Consequently, rivals followed suit. Now they are playing catch-up…

Now, I’m not a LinkedIn power user. Don’t get me wrong - I think it’s a great service that has a lot to offer. But it’s all about connections and contacts. Almost all of my colleagues (and friends) use Facebook. Not only that, but I also find it much more productive and less confusing than LinkedIn.

For further analysis, be sure to read posts from my fellow Canadian tech bloggers Mark Evans and Mathew Ingram.

In addition, for those interested, I wrote an article a couple months back begging the question, “Is Facebook the new LinkedIn?” Feel free to give it a read.