About a year ago I set out on a mission to correct the fallacy that blogging is dying. It wasn’t from standing on a soapbox and yelling at the oncoming storm, no it was much more subtle than that. Most of my inspiration came from my brief exposure to what Twitter was, and how I turned out using it. Primarily, I use it day to day to track other bloggers and their postings. Its an easy way to bookmark a blog post on my phone when I’m at work, or in a line somewhere.
I took the opportunity to slave over making this flowchart because it shows the inherent problem that’s truly at the root of the problem facing the “perception of decline” in blogging. Remember when I mentioned bloggers are to blame for it? Well gaming bloggers are more so at fault. We don’t talk about each others posts enough. We barely link to each other, and when we do we do it via antiquated systems like blogrolls. Basically the problem boils down to a few key points;
- People stop blogging (though new ones do take their place!)
- Blogrolls are typically copied. Go take a look at the NBI 2014 class and look at their blogrolls.
- Veterans don’t link to new blogs because; insert x excuse here.
Combined together you’ll start to see a trend. Bloggers die off, new ones come in, they copy the old out of date blogrolls, no one new gets into the good club. Veterans complain about how blogging is dying.
As comical as this cycle is (more sad than anything) the solution is not easily apparent. Also lets be clear; not all veterans are like this. There are more that follow this pattern then not, however. I also assume that blogrolls, the primary method to this point of discovering new blogs, actually work. To the contrary the traffic I receive from the few blogrolls out there I’m on, generate only 1% or less of my monthly traffic. I am sure other bloggers are nodding in agreement at similar observations. Why is this?
Lets imagine a blogging waterfall.
The water is full of fish. Some of the fish are red, some green, some blue. Some are big, some small, some so tiny you can’t see them. They all swim off of this waterfall in a giant cascade of fishmageddon.
You, the fisher, really like to eat red fish. What do you do? Well you have to go to the waterfall because thats the only place to get red fish. For hours you watch the waterfall until a red fish flies off the edge. You catch it, but you’re exhausted. You spent two hours watching a bunch of carp (get it?) just to get your treat.
Hopefully you’ve guessed where I’m going;
Blogs come in all sizes, shapes and popularities. Being forced to watch them all for something that interests you is silly. Where can you turn? Google? Most of the content you are looking for won’t show up there; at least not unless you enjoy diving in 200 pages deep into search results (if you can even figure out what to search for). Immersing yourself in the blogging waterfall is painful. You literally have to sit and hope someone posts an article you’re interested in. Its insane.
So lets talk about what we can do. In my own recent project I tried to solve this by minimizing the deluge of the waterfall by installing filters of a kind. Want to look for ESO, but not just at ESO sites? We can accomplish that. Want to find something about PVP, but not about a specific game? We can do that too. Limiting this to relevant, recent blog opinions? Yea, we can even find a way to pull that off.
Scr.ee isn’t new to most of the people who are reading this. But its something I’m proud of because thus far none of the people I’ve shown it to have thought it was a complete waste of their time. Why is that? Its because many of us are frustrated with the status quo and it offers one potential solution to the woes I’ve described at length in this article.
What does it do?
Basically any blogger can put in these little #hashtags into his blog post and Scr.ee finds them, compiles them, and displays them in order of when they got posted. Think of it as a site that everyone, equally, gets their fair chance at 5 minutes of fame; everyone gets to be on page one of search results (if only for a short time). Its pretty neat and the testers seem to be taking to it. In our first month I tracked over 500 hashtags from only 13 blogs.
So earlier I mentioned being able to potentially make the blogroll obsolete. Heres what I’ve been working on.
The first image here is a screen shot of what you see when you head to http://scr.ee/beta/ and it basically shows you whats been going on during the last 30 days in the blogosphere (at this point blogosphere is defined as 26 gaming specific blogs ;p). At the very top in bright white are 5 hashtags; elderscrollsonline, nbi2014, etc. These are my personal “favorite” #hashtags. You can favorite any hashtag you like by clicking the little star next to the hashtag when you click into a hashatg;
After that, your favorites will always be at the top of the page (if posts were made in last 30 days) for quick reference. Yet this alone isn’t what’s going to replace the blogroll.
Instead of tracking and linking to blogs who “might” share your same interests, or who “might” post about a similar topic; what about instead linking to any blog who comments about #wildstar ? Scr.ee is going to try to solve the blogroll problem by creating custom RSS feeds for you based on any article that meets your favorite hashtag list. Most blogs allow you to input RSS feeds into your design, and so adding a custom RSS feed into your site parsing out a bunch of nifty relevant blog posts might be useful right?
The big problem this solves is two fold. First; you no longer need to maintain, update, delete or otherwise look at a blogroll solution anymore. Two; newcomers don’t have to worry about pestering people or getting left out. The cycle of circulated-out-of-date blogrolls becomes a thing of the past.
Pretty cool right?
When people say blogging is dead, the only truth to the statement is that blogging the way they use to is dead. It will take new ideas, new solutions, and new approaches to problems no one wants to address. Passionate bloggers, of which many are currently driving the Newbie Blogger Initiative, are the key to eliminating this false perception of “blogs are dying”. We each have our part to play to make the blogging community even bigger and better than it is right now. I hope you’ll join us. We have a lot of work to get done.
This is Part 2 of my ongoing series belittling the idea that blogs are dead; Part 1 can be found here;