Blogging Lifestreams 2012 and My Personal Cloud

January 2, 2010

in Blogging, Conversational Blogging, Knowledge Innovation, Location & Context, Mobility

Yesterday I was tweaking my blog and generally updating myself with plug-ins and what others are doing with them. When I started blogging back in 2002 I was already thinking about lifestreams. Over the years I’ve blogged about and tried out Linkblogs (before bookmarking / del.icio.us) to both track content I see, help share it, and along with my own content create a searchable knowledge store for me. As a consultant this has been incredibly useful. Nothing credentials your thinking better than what you wrote and shared, sometimes years ago.

Yet that was then… and what is now? What’s happened to Blogging Lifestreams? What happens if we jump ahead a couple of years too?

Questions  on Lifestreams

Have we made progress? What should my cloud look like? Why personal? What content would make it more interesting? Is it easier or more difficult? Is there still a point? Are we better or worse at remembering or harnasing our lifestream?

Progress, Lifestreams and the Blog – has this happened?
Yes, Yes and Yes!!! Yes we’ve continued to wire up the world. Blogging and particularly the status updates / microblog have made participation easier. Blogging or the Blogosphere was open at least in connecting each other up. Trackbacks (remember that!) were a great way of linking posts and retaining your commentary. Links were currency. Comments as always were wonderful, an affirmation that it wasn’t all for nothing. Yet blogging was perhaps a daily ritual for a few. It took time to generate good content. (In fact it still does and there is often a paucity of it).

And, along the way, something changed.

a. Presence and the Buddylist: Once we used IRC channels (some still do), and yahoo, AIM or MSN. Along with e-mail lists there were plenty of private conversations…. the back channel (IRC which became the public channel in many conferences). We learned that online indicators, (online, away, DND etc) weren’t really indicative of status. We still contacted those we were comfortable with. Or sent them a “please add me” on Skype, plus a chat message and suggested we talk. Until Skype, real networks of strangers that weren’t strangers wasn’t really possible. The communcation costs were too expensive. Yet the number of people that met at a conference, that talked on Skype for hours after reading each other’s posts and making comments is not just a legend. It is fact. These are connections that happened “outside” one’s buddylist.

b. Real-Time:
Then things sped up. Twitter turned up. It took a couple of years and all of a sudden people could Tweet or microblog. Potential for posts went up. Two types became important. Those that pointed to interesting content and those that answered questions or made direct comments. Unfortunately, Twitter broke or borked #fixreplies re @messages. Still the obvious was there. Just like many forums moved to blogs, many comments moved to Twitter. No serious blogger blogs without Tweeting today. Even if it is just the titles of their blog posts.

Increasingly it is Twitter Search and lists that turn up content of interest. Twitter is faster than the news about many things. Concurrently Twitter also works effectively on the mobile. It’s easy to Tweet but not blog on a mobile. Even better if there are video or audio elements. Use a great smartphone and one of the good apps and it is easy to photoblog, audioblog, videoblog and more. Unfortunately, all that content is being sent off to other sites. You lose control of it.

We also have “notification services” eg Boxcar or Notifications on the iPhone that enable even more ‘instant’ updates. It’s powerful. These tie back to Twitter or Facebook. Conversations happen in real-time. Opt-in or Opt-out.

I made the point back in 2002 that bloggers could learn faster. Now the world learns faster through Twitter and nobody seems to doubt it. Add in Facebook and it’s confirmed!

c. The Personal Cloud

If you have used Twitter search and followed your name you quickly find that things you may have tweeted disappear. In fact many have lamented the issues with losing pictures on Flickr, or when another photo service closes down. In the meantime the Internet Archives is trying to deal with shortURL’s like bit.ly/xxxx. Twitter is expanding the number of people sharing data exponentially. The question is really two-fold. Does this world scale effectively, or are we better off making a different choice. PKM was all about Personal Knowledge Management.

The Personal Cloud is about more than that. Increasingly you have no control over your data, and often can’t export it. Try searching for it. Really do you think Google will turn up your important tweets with friend x? It won’t. Even Twitter can’t. These things should perhaps have a half-life. Yet put that life under your control. All my Tweets end up back in in my blog. I’ve also increasingly recognized the importance of capturing my pictures, and more. While there are benefits to a SlideShare community or Flickr, or even YouTube if you store your data there it is outside your control.

I increasingly want my Blog to manage my Personal Cloud. I want it to place content where ever I want to share it. In fact it has to become much better at managing the number of signals I want to release and share.

d. Cloud Management and the Mobile

The mobile has won. I will control and update my cloud through my mobile. With a few enhancements all my content can go that way. Whether you use TwittelatorPro, EchofonPro, or Tweetie2, you have the IM and signaling client in the palm of your hand. You also have the location element available to you. Thoughtful blogs are shrinking. Content is being aggregated. The NYTimes, Engadget, Gigaom, The Guardian, and many more are all providing authoritative content that is easy to share. I read it on my iPhone. I tweet it and share. I have the link to the content saved etc. It is now searchable on my blog too.

A singular gesture.

Contrast sharing a post via Twitter and doing the same via GoogleReader. Reader is too hard. By contrast going to a blog and hitting a TweetThis button is easier. The most important sources will be an app in the palm of your hand and what your friends turn up, or what what searches are returning on matters of interest. Add a twitter qualifier to that (eg x RT, not to be missed) and you have more than enough to keep your informed.

Unlike yesterday… conversations that matter lie outside your buddylist or following list. We’ve made the connections with those we read and understand. We keep reading their blogs too. Yet their tweets are more important today. They are the things that keep us in touch. Knowing who my friends talk to is important. Twitter is continuing to bury that.

e. Signaling.
This has become or been a passion of mine. Phweet is my example of how to quickly and with little friction escalate conversations rapidly to voice / video exchanges. Andy Abramson wrote the other day about Visual Communications. When you look at QIK and Ustream it become easy to see the power that exists with video in real-time. We just aren’t good at it yet. When locations / GPS data is included, signals outside the buddylist become more important. Twitter is important as a pipe at least for now.

There are some things I’d like to see.

1. Take the TweetPress idea (can post Twitter related pictures direct to my blog rather than Twitpic) and enable me to host all my Tweet related content. Eg Videos, Audio, Photos, bookmarked content (permanent copy like furl.net used to do) in my WordPress install.
2. Make it easy for me to tie my blog identity to my TwitterID. This is my public persona anyways. Now make it easy to subscribe to both Twitter and RSS/Atom ie the Feed a the same time. When I do… I want to get the capability to capture all content in the feeds I follow and then view with @messages and without @messages etc. with some basic filtering.
3. I’d prefer to do all post to Twitter via my blog using a TwitterApp and TwitterPlug-In integration. However if my blog is capturing all the “content” behind the links then I can capture the tweet and thus bring the two together.
4. Tweetback. Can’t we change the comment format. Eg a Tweet comment and a Tweetback comment. Eg one is just an @message and the second is an @message with URL to the comment body content. There are many ways this @message could be handled. Of course it really requires an oAuth log-in. But that would be fine… I’d again get “readers” like mybloglog that I could display with their mini-profile. Eg give me Tweeters that read my blog. Today I don’t want to leave you a comment. I want to leave you a Tweet. Even better if it is a supertweet which captures the content of the detailed comment back on my blog.
5. Location: GPS / Maps. I need to generate URI’s that contain GPS / location information. I must be able to bring location based data into my blog posts. Eg that location information that is published via Twitter in the Tweet. I must also be able to bring that GPS info into any blog automatically via feeds / feeds aggregation. (if blogs and tweets and bit.ly are tied together perhaps my posts can just aggregate their info and use their GPS data???

Quantity or Quality? Or Availability and Access?

When I founded and began writing Skype Journal I found I needed 3 to 5 posts per day to really drive traffic. At the same time Nick Denton was creating some of his very successful blogs (eg Gawker) and they followed much the same path. It’s still the same… you need a lot of content today to keep readers coming back. Yet many have gathered many followers via Twitter that exceeded anything they ever managed to achieve on a blog. I wrote posts on “Conversational Blogging” and today those conversations are in Twitter. The nice thing is.. they are effectively available to anyone. No need to follow or be followed. Just a simple @message. It’s much tidier than making a phone call and yet just as easy. You know their TwitterID. It is effectively the Social White Pages without phone numbers. In that way Twitter has usurped the trackback too.

Progress?
I posed the question have we made progress. Yes of course and yet it is slower than I’d like it to be (as always). WordPress is definitely my content platform of choice and yet it doesn’t really help me all that much yet in the world that is emerging. In my view WordPress is moving too slowly.

Twitter Apps on mobiles have accelerated the pace of learning. They have also opened up communications and begun to redefine it. I’m increasingly likely to make posts that matter via these Apps. When will TwittilatorPro or another allow me to use the XMLRPC interface to post a “super tweet” to blog and twitter simultaneously?

2012: Here Yet? Updating
Then I will be celebrating 10 years of blogging. Actually, blogging will continue to disappear. We know it as publishing already although on a personal basis, signals, updates, shares, pointers, links, messages, replies, are more likely to be what we really do. Lifestreams remain and will be more documented and better maintained than ever. Blogging… well it just got the conversation started. Still does and it is a good POV, funny story, or something current, very personal, or instructive that gets attention.

And yet, here I am 2010 and I’m still wedded to the idea that my blog has real value – even if only to me.

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