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The Blogosphere lives!

There was a reason we used that ridiculous word to refer to the loose collection of bloggers: Back in the early 2000s, we were reading one another’s blogs, responding to them, and linking to them. Blogging was a conversational form made solid by links.

It’s time to get back to that. At least for me.

Tweeting’s great. I love Twitter. And I love the weird conversational form it enables. But it’s better at building social relationships than relationships among ideas: I can easily follow you at Twitter, but not ideas: hashtags (lord love ’em) let us do a little tracing of tweetful interactions, but they’re really more for searching than for creating dense clouds of ideas in relation.

Facebook’s great. I mean, not so much for me, but I understand it’s popular with the kids today. But there again the nodes are social more than ideas. Yes, you can certainly get a thread going, but a thread turns the post into the container.’s great. I actually like it a lot, and publish there occasionally. But why? I don’t use if for its fluent writing experience; these days I prefer more rough-hewn tools such as Markdown. Medium is a comfortable way of publishing: posting something in an attractive form in the hope that strangers will read it.

I’m in favor of all of these modalities: the shout-out of tweets, the social threading of Facebook, the old-school-made-new publishing of But…

Blogs are — or at least were — different. They are an individual’s place for speaking out loud, but the relationships that form around them were based on links among posts, not social networks that link among people. I’m all for social networks, but we also need networks of ideas.

Bloggy networks of ideas turn into social links, and that’s a good thing. An entire generation of my friendships formed because we were blogging back and forth, developing and critiquing one another’s ideas, applying them to our own circumstances and frameworks, and doing so respectfully and in good humor. But the nodes and the links in the blogosphere form around topics and ideas, not social relationships.

Blogging was a blogosphere because our writing and our links were open to everyone and had as much persistence as the fluid world of domains enables. You could start at one person’s blog post, click to another, on to another, following an idea around the world…and being predisposed to come back to any of the blogs that helped you understand something in a new way. Every link in every blog tangibly made our shared world richer and more stimulating.

Appropriately, I’m not the only person who misses the ol’ sphere. I came across a post by my blogging friend Thomas Vander Wal. That led me to a post on “Short-form Blogging” by Marco Arment. He links to the always-interesting and often awesome Gina Trapani who also suggests the benefits of thinking about blogging when you have an idea that’s about the size of a paragraph. Jason Snell, too. Jason points to a post by Andy Baio that’s exults about what could be a resurgence of blogging. In the comments section, Seth Godin raises his hand: “I never left.”

Isn’t it obvious how awesome that is? A clickable web of ideas! What a concept!

So, I’m happy to see all the talk about shorter posts as a way of lowering the hurdle to blogging. But my main interest is not in getting more paragraph-length ideas out in the world, although that’s good. But it’s especially good if those paragraphs are in response to other paragraphs, because I’m mainly interested in seeing webs of posts emerge around ideas …. ideas like the value blogs can bring to an ecosystem that has Twitter, Facebook, and Medium in it already.

Blogs aren’t for everyone, but they are for some of us. Blogs aren’t for everything, but they sure as hell are for something.

(And now I have to decide whether I should cross-post this at And tweet out a link.)

10 Responses to “The Blogosphere lives!”

  1. Sometimes I approach the network of ideas a little differently — and unfortunately with something resembling anxiety. There is a kind of opportunity cost at every potential click. I get frustrated when node A points off to multiple nodes B-Z. You can only follow one of those trails at a time. I would love it if the browser could somehow keep track of the click-hierarchy on such a journey, so that I could easily orient myself along the path of clicks. As it stands, the and buttons envision the journey as one-dimensional: your path is a line. It would be great if it could envision a journey of clicking links as a terrain or a tree. Then you wouldn’t need to limit yourself to a single, linear path. I feel like a tool of this kind would really encourage both the serendipity and the taxonomy of ideas that clicking around can engender. Anyway, that’s my paragraph-sized idea for this lunch break.

  2. … That is supposed to be “the BACK and FORWARD buttons …”

  3. Yes David!

    I was just looking at my “launch page” – a webpage I made with lots of tiny icons, kind of like iOS or Android apps, but buttons to launch websites – some my own blogs, others social nets, web tools, etc. It’s got 120 buttons on it! It’d take me 2 hours just to spend 1 minute on every site!

    Like you I do think just about every platform does something useful for some group somewhere. But so many of them are silo’d. And we have so little time. IDK if it’s not too late for the Blogosphere to still “compete” with the Socialnetosphere, but I do think that powerful ideas, paragraph length or longer or shorter, on individuals’ homes and not Mark Zuckerberg’s or anybody else’s condo complex (or slumlord housing) can be the most meaningful.

  4. I notice that a number of the sites you linked to here don’t allow comments. I guess that works in the context of the “reply post” which you’re sort of arguing for. Maybe comments are a bit like a tweet? Still, so much of what I perceive as the power of the blogosphere is in having the ability to discuss right then and there.

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  6. Great post! I’ve also returned to blogging after a long absence. I had a blog called All Day Permanent Red that was mostly part of the post/ex-academic bologsphere.

    Alas after writing many thousands of posts I neglected it, lost my domain name (happy to see it sold for a few thousand bucks), and even lost hundreds of pages of writing due to the loss of two backups. But, ah, that’s really not wanted to say here…

    I’ve just written a reply to your post on my own blog, but I don’t think trackbacks are on — or if they are even still a thing anymore. Don’t hate me for posting a link to it here, though your comment system just might eat it.

  7. […] like David Weinberger, Thomas Vander Wal, Marco Arment, Gina Trapani, Jason Snell, and Andy Baio have been calling for a […]

  8. […] via Joho the Blog ยป The Blogosphere lives!. […]

  9. […] Weinberger recently wrote a post The Blogosphere Lives! Thomas Vander Wal wrote More Short Blog Pushes. Gina Trapani wrote Short-form blogging. And Jason […]

  10. […] The Blogosphere lives! […]

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