convergenceI‘ve written elsewhere about what I think will happen, must happen, to weblogs before they’ll be ready for business prime-time. I am less certain about what the future holds for personal weblogs, but I thought it would be fun to guess.

One thing I am certain about is that neither Microsoft, nor we pioneer bloggers. will determine this future. In the world of consumer products, everything affects everything else, so we need to take a step back and look at how the mainstream are going to be presented with, and use (or not) weblogs. Here’s what I think will happen:

  1. The television and the PC are going to converge one way or another; their functionality overlaps too much, and they have too much to offer each other, for anything else to happen. The killer apps that will pull them together will be interactive apps: games, the videophone, polls (for American Idol candidates, not the POTUS, yet), shopping, directories/catalogues, and the ability to change cameras, pan and tilt when watching sporting events, travelogues etc. Whether broadcasting as we know it still exists in 2010 will depend on both the stubbornness and innovation of broadcasters.
  2. The weblog will be one of the suite of apps that will be made available to all with TV/PC convergence, probably as a non-killer freebie. Each user will get a simple word processing/publishing app that will allow them to write letters (and stories and essays) with embedded graphics and send them off via e-mail, while saving them in either a private or public indexable archive. The public archive will be the ‘vanilla’ weblog of 2010. People who want more ‘publishing power’ will be able to purchase add-ons, and those who write for the reasons we do, who have not already discovered weblogs, will sign up for these. Even if that’s only 10% of the population, that’s 600 million blogs, public archives that will subsume personal websites and constitute at least half, maybe as much as 90% of all the content on the internet.
  3. Weblogs will be indexed and categorized and rated and promoted by many groups in many ways for many purposes. As Shirky’s power law prevails, anyone who wants their weblog to be seen by a significant audience will attempt to get it rated by a recognized authority, and those authorities and that recognition will inevitably be more formal than today’s A-lister blogrolls, and probably more democratic as well. This will allow a select few to break through to prominence. But for the vast majority, if you want to be read you’ll have to do, by analogy, what writers did in the past — get your writing published in one of the select (e-)journals that have an established audience. There’s just too much competition to be discovered serendipitously, no matter how good you are at self-promotion.
  4. Some weblogs will achieve fifteen minutes of fame. Although most of us will settle for obscurity and readership of less than 150 (the magic number of close acquaintances any of us can hope to muster per the Tipping Point), there will be break-out blogs that will achieve fleeting fame for some special research, insight or artistic creation that is unique and original, not available anywhere else. First to blog intelligently about the next Matrix movie or Harry Potter book will be as famous as the producer of a small break-out indy film or recording. For awhile. In fact, nextgen weblogs might be the tool of choice for promoting your indy film or recording as well.
  5. Weblogs will also serve as proxies, place-holders for you, for when other people are looking to establish or join a community of interest on any subject under the sun that human beings might care about. If you live with a unique type of dog, or have some unusual disease, or write songs about or photograph body piercings, expect to be found and contacted by all the others that share that joy, fate or interest. In the future we will wheel in and out of communities as often and as easily as we change our shoes. And as dictated by our attention economy, 90% of the communities to which we belong will be inactive 90% of the time. But be aware of the strength of weak ties — they will play a major role in determining which relationships and communities most impact your life.
  6. Blogging will be much easier, but few will do it. I base this prediction on the large number of young people who have abandoned their blogs. Blogging is hard work even if the tool is as easy to use as a pencil, and it can’t compete with chat or IM (especially as these go multimedia) for the immediacy and intimacy of communication. And that will remain true even if in the future only techies will need or want to write HTML code. The only acronym we’ll need to know in 2010 is WYSIWYG.

This has some interesting implications for application developers and for consumers as well. It is not inconceivable that whetever becomes the standard text editor/publishing tool by 2010 (see point 2 above) might replace MS Word as the ubiquitous PC app that all others must export to/import from. Given the bloat and HTML-unfriendliness of Word, that would be a welcome change. In addition, if people start using TVs as IP videophones (especially if it’s a PIP option so I can still watch my quirky movies) expect to see convergence of e-mail addresses and phone numbers, or at least some transparent mechanism for getting one from the other.

So, bottom line, blogging’s going to get easier, more interesting, and more ubiquitous. But it will still be lonely, and hard to become popular. Some things never change.

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13 Responses to THE BLOGOSPHERE IN 2010

  1. Art Jacobson says:

    Dave…I really enjoyed your perceptive comments about blogs and blogging.I seldom play “the age card,” and as a matter of fact avoid it wherever possible, for fear of coming off like Father Christmas or somebody’s old uncle. The truth, though, is that I started blogging to make sure that I didn’t lose touch with people who were very much younger than myself. It’s been a big disapointment to start following a blog…obviously some young person’s…only to find that after four or five entries it has been orphaned.You’re quite right: Blogging is hard work. Perhaps blogs, like youth, are wasted on the young.

  2. Dave Pollard says:

    Now you’re making me feel old ;-)I used to write voraciously when I was younger. I wish I’d kept more of what I wrote then, so I could edit it now, keeping all the passion and removing the pretentiousness. I wonder if the next generation of writers/bloggers will destroy their work only to regret it later?

  3. Dave,Great post as usual. I pretty much agree with your insights. I, the newbie, and my four or five ardent readers find them a bit depressing as well. (re: Shirkey’s Law and the Tipping point). Oh well, getting old can’t be avoided at least for the lucky ones that is.regards – rich

  4. Rebecca says:

    You *used to * write voraciously?? Considering your current output, it must have been a veritable deluge! ;-) Blogs *are* hard. I write voluminous emails to friends, filled with observations, rants, musings, and experimentations. But I find writing to an empty audience very difficult, so I created the blog was for practicing that. It’s been an interesting exercise thinking about how I am motivated to write and why more writing ends up in my sent-mail folder than in my blog.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Rebecca: I have a picture in my mind of two or three of the readers of each of (a) my business posts, (b) my creative writing, (c) my environmental philosophy, and (d) the other miscellany that clutters up my blog. I write to them, in the same style I would send them an e-mail. Makes it easier for me, the same way that when I’m doing a teleconference I always have a photo of someone in the audience in front of me, and I talk to the photo, imagining that person’s response.Your writing is very unpretentious and lyrical, so your practicing must be paying off.

  6. Cindy says:

    Some of the things that you mentioned is old news in Europe, at least in The Netherlands. We use Teletex (text displays on TV) to check flights, weather, news, stocks, local activites etc. It is one-way traffic but it is there. And very useful especially for the older persons who might not have the skills of using PC. I could be wrong, but I think in France phone-book as well. And all these way back more than 10 years. While in US I did not see similar system as ‘teletext’. Don’t think because US has more PC at home (US is not the top countries in that sense) I think is more ‘money’ at work.

  7. Dave,another step towards the future of weblogs. I’m not sure it won’t be easy for young people to communicate through weblogs as soon as instant messengers and mobile phones will be able to publish to something like a web page. But the real challenge will be to use weblogs as social proxies and taking advantage of global positioning systems to receive and provide location-sensitive information about our interests or simply our shopping lists! I see these social proxies easy accessible from any kind of device, from laptops to PDAs, to wall-mounted tablet PCs that will become the only communication tool used in our homes very soon.

  8. M. L. Foster says:

    Hmmm… My original intent was to post about Dave’s bullet point about young people and how they have abandoned their blogs. If people have something to say I believe they will find a way to say it. Perhaps they become regular posters on more popular blogs or maybe they will find a place in a group blog. I hope so as like Dave I enjoy seeing their viewpoint.As per usual, I have followed links to the other bloggers in this comment thread. I started to choke when I read Zelig’s comment and had this vision of someone in netspace monitoring my movements. But his idea about how in the future offers of goods and services might come to you at your convenience is not such a bad idea.Rich builds a pretty good case for Bush being insane. I wish I had a map with all those pins in it where I have been.Keep on blogging.

  9. Dave Pollard says:

    Cindy: I’ve noticed teletext while traveling in many countries in Europe, but I’d be interested in knowing how much it is used, since I don’t find it at all intuitive, and, as you say, it’s all one-way. What part of Holland do you live in?Zelig: Interesting point. Question is, will people want to have a transcription of their chat/IM conversations posted somewhere? To what purpose? As for weblogs as social proxies, I see them being used more for people-to-people connections than commercial purposes. To me it makes more sense to have my ‘standard’ freezer & refrigerator and cupboard contents programmed into those devices and have them wirelessly call the store to order and have delivered whatever I’m short, bypassing both me and my blog proxy entirely. As for wall-mounted TV/PC’s, their prevalence will depend on the social conventions of the next generation — it may be that the screen will be mounted on the inside of eyeglasses instead of on a wall (more personal, more portable, cheaper, crisper, but also less social).

  10. Dave Pollard says:

    Marie: There are still many, many blogs full of teenage angst where others have fallen by the wayside, so we will be able to eavesdrop on a whole generation for a while to come. But I think more and more will conclude that they just don’t like having to work that hard to write, when other forms of communication are simpler and more intimate.

  11. Jon Husband says:

    Iwonder, then, if the other forms of communication will make our culture, and so our lives, simpler and more intimate?Seems to me the process is well underway, via TV and movies.Will the aspects of our lives that depend upon writing, and expressing ourselves other than orally or visually, take on more importance and more depth? Or will they become more ignored, and more marginal – the refuge of seekers and thinkers – in the drift-dive culture and life of an era in which we are surrounded by digital media?Are we becoming like scuba divers in an electronic acquarium that has a strong current?

  12. Dave Pollard says:

    Jon:I think oral/aural traditions of communication will always outweigh written language, in their impact and importance, as they always have done. Stuff written down is merely (and importantly) an incubator of thought and ideas. Most of what most people do and believe, they do and believe because of what they have been ‘told’ (orally) or persuaded (also orally). All we do as writers is produce scripts, and hope that those that like them and use them get the lines right.

  13. Tom says:

    Funny you should mention that blogging about The Matrix could lead to “fame” on the level of a small indie film production. I don’t know how many people go see the average small indie film, but my Matrix blog has gotten over 80,000 visits so far. It is certainly more than I ever expected from a simple hobby. And you are right that blogs can be a lot of work, probably too much work for many people to stick with it.

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