Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm on Facebook. Really.

Disclaimer: Believe it or not, I composed this post before my brother's post, below, appeared. And he and I have never discussed Facebook (in fact, we haven't discussed anything at all recently). It's a total and complete coincidence that we both wrote posts about new networking technology at the same time. His post is great. Here's mine:

Recently I read a post on another blog that claimed that individual blogging is dead. According to that poster, the only two types of blogs that remain relevant in today's blogosphere are (1) the few super-blogs that have such huge followings that the bloggers support themselves financially (think Cake Wrecks, Go Fug Yourself, Bike Snob NYC, etc.), and (2) "group blogs" that can keep up a steady stream of posts that are both interesting and daily because they're the product of a pool of contributors. Individual and occasional bloggers like me are, in effect, a stagnant backwater that the Internet has passed by. At best. At worst, we are pathetic losers. According to this poster, what's happened is that individual blogging has been replaced by Facebook and Twitter.


My experience with Facebook began when two bloggers that I used to follow told me that they were giving up blogging so they could devote themselves to Facebook. I signed up on Facebook so I could continue to follow them. And since I was there, I also befriended a small number of other people.

So... is Facebook replacing blogging? To begin with, Facebook replacing blogging is like bricks replacing apples. Neither my two ex-bloggers nor anyone else I've seen on Facebook is publishing thoughtful paragraphs, or even multiple-sentence accounts of their lives and adventures, the way they used to do when they were blogging. They're just tossing out occasional one-sentence updates using the "News" feature, and maybe slapping up a picture or two. Facebook isn't blogging. Facebook is, well, a way for people to keep casually in touch with each other. Which is perfectly fine. But it's not blogging.

So this week I started poking around on Facebook to see how it could be used for real blogging, if one wanted to. And it seems that the "Notes" feature is what Facebook wants you to use for blogging. Although I haven't seen anyone who is.

If Facebook is truly the death of blogging, it's not because it's the equivalent of blogging. It's because bloggers got tired. Is that because not enough readers wanted to hear what they said? I dunno. This blog has a grand total of three readers. Is it worth my time to post my ::ruminations:: for three readers? Probably not. But, on the on the other hand, is it worth more to me than, say, letting Facebook followers know that I ate a Reuben for lunch today? I think so.

During my exploration of Facebook, I did notice that it allows you to mirror your external blog in your "Notes". So I signed up for that, which means this blog, including this very post, should also be in my Notes in my Facebook account. There's something deliciously self-referencing in all that. Not that I expect anyone to read it there, either.

One thing that's amazed me about Facebook is how thorough it's been at recommending people that I went to school with or used to know for befriending. But I haven't tried to get in touch with any of them, because I have this very-un-2010-like aversion to intruding in someone's life without an invitation. However, if you are on Facebook and would like to hook up with me -- because I am interested, believe it or not, in superficially socializing with you -- try this:

Gregory Smith


I suppose for people who keep a regular (not super and not group) blog as a way of communicating with others, Facebook is a better way to reach a wider audience. I continue to keep one because it's for myself. I consider it a searchable online brain that others are welcome to read and comment on. People who care to read about what I'm up to will come to my blog; my thoughts won't be broadcast to hundreds of my closest Facebook friends. And that's just the way I like it.

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