Why Blog?

Floating around on the Internet right now, there’s a great piece by Tim Bray, called Blogodammerung, that asks, “Is blogging dead?” and if so, “Why write in the first place?”

If blogging is dead, then is there a purpose in writing, and otherwise producing content on the web?

Blogging isn’t dead.

Blogging never died, it evolved. Blogging means posting online (onto your WordPress) all the content you produce on and offline. Whatever you produce, be it words or pictures or videos, you can post it on your “blog.” (Yes, we know. WordPress is not just a blog.)

There are a million places for us to live and post online. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, now App.net, WordPress or Blogspot, and even Tumblr. Each provides a different format, either strictly defined, or open and extensible, for you to present yourself and the content you produce online. The constraints of each online medium affect the type of content that gets posted. Twitter forces you to fit your message into 140 Characters. Facebook allows greater flexibility, but owns everything that you produce.

WordPress sets no limits on your content, and you own everything.

According to the piece, there are at least 5 reasons that people will always write and produce content on the web.

  1. Money.
  2. You love writing and photography and code, etc
  3. To influence
  4. To entertain.
  5. To inform.
What we publish on WordPress is going to be motivated by each of those.

Money – Everyone has to get paid and to eat. But, I’d call the 20,000 of us who make our living with WordPress fortunate to work on projects that matter to us on a personal level. Money is important, but it’s not always the primary motivation.

Love – Those of us who love working on the web, writing or otherwise can’t really help it. Most of us would be producing the same content whether we got paid for it or not.

To entertain and inform – Here’s where things get really interesting. Twitter probably has the market cornered on informing because 140 characters constrains our message. Twitter forces short, declarative sentences that tell our audience what they need to know efficiently, then let them go about the rest of their business. To entertain, YouTube videos, Soundcloud Podcasts, and Flickr photos will overpower the long form essay or blog post. Hate to say it, but a blog post will never compete for raw entertainment value with Gangam Style. However, all of those integrate nicely with WordPress. Blogging is fueled by the growth of those mediums, not the other way around.

But influence may be the grandest reason to “blog. Garnering influence means building an online voice and thought leadership with every word you write, and every piece of content that you would share online. Bray thinks that writing, more than any other form of online expression, is the most influential because it allows us to combine “rhetoric and polemic and storyline…a few hundred words, organized into paragraphs, with a permalink.” We can make a case persuasively, and then make sure that credit is linked back to us as the author.

That sounds pretty, and I agree with it.

I also think that everything you post online is a way of garnering influence, regardless of the form it takes. I always come back to the fact that when people google me, or you, they won’t see our Facebook profiles. They might see a recent smattering of my tweets, but my WordPress is where I curate myself personally and professionally. It’s where you can see a historical record of my work and my life.

Bray leaves us a big tip to maximize our influence, and retain control of our content.

  • Own your space on the Web, and pay for it.

There are a million ways to produce content on the Internet. Every single tweet, Facebook update, YouTube video, Google+ post, and photo on Flickr or Instagram is a form of content that makes up who we are online. But where should you curate it all?

WordPress.

Everything is your content. Give it a nice WordPress home to live.

Find a good host that you trust with your online presence. That could be WP Engine, or it could be any number of great choices. As long as you get to keep control of your content, and you have the service that is important to you. It’s your content, after all.

I remember the first time I met Otto at the Kansas City WordCamp, he told me that he didn’t have a Facebook because he wants full control of his presence online. In order to control everything that he posts and produces online, he uses WordPress, rather than Facebook, to keep everything together.

Blogging isn’t dead. It is alive and well, driven by all our activity on every social network, on and offline. The definition of blogging has simply evolved to include everything from video, to images, code, and all the words we press every single day.