the aoling of blogspace

| 7 Comments | 1 TrackBack

So I'm talking with one of my colleagues about blogs, and explaining how only twice in my life have I had this sense that a technology was about to become really important. We're both reminiscing about the early days of post-BITNET e-mail, and the first wave of web sites (remember O'Reilly's Network Navigator?). And then the conversation turns to "what happened to all that promise"? I remind him of the day the AOL floodgates opened and usenet and e-mail were never the same. What's going to be the effect on blogging when/if the exponential curve takes its sharp turn upwards? This LA Times article suggests some possibilities. Looks like "reaching critical mass" is becoming synonymous with "succumbing to the great unwashed masses."

1 TrackBack

Elizabeth Lane Lawley writes about her thoughts on the aoling of blogspace. What a scary thought. What a likely scenario.Looks Read More


I guess "critical mass" has a variety of meanings.

I think it always has. Critical mass isn't always perceived as a good thing. And not everybody wants to be part of a trend--sometimes it's more fun to be outside the crowd, looking in.

It will be fascinating to watch how the social landscape of blogs is changed as the population grows and becomes less technically sophisticated.

Other than maybe rendering comment sections unusable, I fail to see how a flood of "less sophisticated" users could kill the medium. How can their presence prevent "more sophisticated" people from finding like minds?

Depends on how effective the filtering mechanisms are, I suppose. When I wrote this, I hadn't yet seen the "ecosystem tools" that were springing up. As I've played over the past few weeks, I'm increasingly encouraged by what I've described as an inevitability of some of these connections.

On the other hand, oversubscription did in some ways kill off the community feel of usenet, and the personal feel of the web itself. They became increasingly homogenized and commercialized, and it became more and more difficult to sort the signal from the noise.

I suppose I'm only looking at my own experience with new technologies...from bbs to usenet to email to the web, etc. Each of those technologies started out feeling--to me--very personal, very social (Clay Shirky's been blogging a bit about "social technologies" in the guestblog on boing boing this month). As they became more broadly used, the level of personal connection seemed less.

The "more" vs "less" sophisticated label is probably a poor (and elitist) choice of words. However, the dropping of barriers has pros and cons. The population mix changes, the challenge of finding "like minds" increases.

The loss of the comments as an effective means of extending the communicative potential of blogs would be a nontrivial loss. I'm already finding myself much less interested in reading the blogs without comment functions (megnut, rebecca's pocket, etc). I assume they've dropped commenting because they became "too popular."

I think it is safe to assume that the time-honored method of looking at good weblogs' blogrolls will remain reliable, but I have to agree that there's going to be more noise in referer logs, and that Google-induced serendipity (through which, incidentally, I found your blog, googling for "Habermas blog") will be harder to come by.

Interesting. Google will, I think, be an increasingly problematic (though seductive) default tool for finding connectivity. As it becomes the default gateway through which all queries are passed, the risk of that privately run infrastructure becoming the single public tool for online searching worries me. I know doc searls posted a little about this recently...but someone else went on at more length, and I can't find it now.

[A quick search...on Google, of course...finds this related article from There are probably more. Worth a post later this week, I think, once I've done more poking around.]

Of course, there were other possible points of intersection by which you could have found yourself here, including the fact that I'm a participant in Brainstorms (occasional), and currently quite "intertwingled" with Jill Walker's blog, which is high on your list of links.

As to your list of links...

*Like the visual design.

*Love the "Dead" category.

*And am flattered to be listed among the living.

Remember the USENET saying "It's always September somewhere on the Internet"?

Can you imagine the nostalgia trips about the early days of the blogosphere we're going to be hearing a few years from now, when people are MSblogging over AIM to send each other spam?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on October 30, 2002 12:30 AM.

design trumps content was the previous entry in this blog.

I want this apron. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Category Archives