We are in the middle of many massive changes in the use of Internet tools. Changes which affect how people communicate, work and even think. Change is sometimes good, for most it is hard. Some parts of the Internet are in a fast growth phase. Some parts are actually shrinking and even disappearing. Blogs grew fast up until the last two years (1995 to 2008), now blog growth is flat or even slightly falling. Social networking is hot now but we are already starting to see shift to private networks and other forms of Internet use. In the PC, OS and browser domains there is a trend of simplicity. Large desktop PCS are being replaced by laptops and even NetBooks. OSes like Microsoft Windows XP and Vista are being replaced slimmer versions (Windows 7) and simpler Linux versions. The cycles in technology are mostly driven by consumer preference and use with help from new applications (programs and tools on the PC.) These cycles affect writers, editors and communicators. In the early 2000s you can put up a good blog and have people flock to it. Blogs were new and innovative, everyone wanted to say they were reading or writing one. The same is not true today. The blogs are still being written and promoted but less people are interested. They became useful as focused channels. Corporations are starting to give their workers a free hand at writing and managing blogs. This is creating a huge amount of content from essentially a hidden world. The general public has moved to social networking sites like FaceBook and Twitter. Corporate workers are using Linked-IN specially in their groups. Add to this all the applications and blogs supporting and reporting on all the developments.
If you are writing for the general public you need to “ride the wave”. Keep up with where Internet crowds gather. By using FaceBook and Twitter you can get people to pay attention to you and even get them to come to your blog. Seth Godin who writes about trends in the use of media is a good example of how to “ride the wave”. He has a blog which supports his books. He is also using Twitter and FaceBook as a popular (i.e. general public, what is happening now) way to promote his blog and books. But Seth Godin is just one example of how to use popular or niche communication. If you are writing for a focused (or niche) audience a blog may be enough. Social media and networking sites, social tagging (Digg, Stumble Upon, Delicious) and blog index sites are useful to get people’s attention but they also take time and effort to maintain. By definition, if you are going to use a social media site to get attention you will need to post informative and interesting articles. If part of your work is keeping up with a specific domain, than posting what you already do is not a problem. But if you write a blog to promote a product, more information from different sources or creating original material for a social media site is more work. It may even take resources away from the original blog. This will not help your work or your product. This example is just the tip of the iceberg on how blogging, social tagging, networking and media are developing. Decisions on how to use the tools, make your message effective and sustainable and other optimization issues are sure to take a bigger role in the future. This brings us back to the title. Simplification of blogs and social media content has a place finally. The cycle of simple to complex to simple has taken about ten years in blogs. The same cycle will take less time with social networking sites (and content.) Let’s hope all this helps us in the work of informing and helping in more direct channels.