The Continuing Shifts of Online Writing, Reading, and Thinking

Will Richardson announced this week that he has "decided to pretty much bring [his] run at Weblogg-ed to a close." Instead, he'll be using Tumblr to facilitate his sharing and provide a space for him to disseminate his thoughts.

Being one of the first to join the educational blogging scene, I see Will's abandonment of traditional blogging as a clear marker for the beginning of the end of long-form educational blogging. While I don't think blogging will disappear entirely, I have noticed and experienced a substantial shift in how people prefer to collaborate - and even share deep thinking. I elaborated further on these shifts three years ago, as I began to flesh out my own thinking on the matter.

Around that time, I took a graduate-level course on the diffusion of innovations from Dr. Gary Straquadine, one of my favorite professors and teachers with whom I've ever been able to associate. As I explained to Dr. Straquadine my efforts with blogging and OpenPD, he was naturally fascinated by the diffusion aspects of these technologies and seemed genuinely impressed with the potential afforded by these once-emerging collaborative techniques.

At the same time, he asked me pointedly, "Darren, do you think you'll still be blogging five years from now? Do you think it will be as popular then as it is now?"

Shocked that he might be suggesting that blogging would one day have an end, I defended how immersive and incredibly powerful the technology was and how I had hoped all teachers would embrace its use. He then expressed his apprehension in blogging's long-term shelf life and his heartfelt confidence that improved innovations would eventually and inevitably come along.

He was right.

While blogging, for me, has been an incredible experience and convenient method for collaborating and sharing deep thought, other tools have emerged that now make some of this sharing easier. Will Richardson is moving now to Tumblr because its "flow" better accommodates his preferences. Similarly, I've changed some of my procedures by using to automatically push my shared items in Google Reader, along with my comments, neatly and nicely to Twitter. Posterous makes it dead simple to grab content and comment, although I haven't yet used this tool to its full potential, and the Diigo bookmarks I add to a specific list likewise push to Twitter. Flow.

Regardless, I continue to appreciate this space, the feedback you're willing to give me here, and the platform traditional blogging provides me when I need to elaborate.

In the end, I'll be curious to know how many of Will's original followers decide to move with him over to Tumblr. We're becoming more flexible in the tools we use to share information; are we equally flexible in our manner of acquisition? (Currently there are 18,461 Weblogg-ed and 69 subscribers in Google Reader. Perhaps Will would be willing to share his actual subscription numbers in the future.) Furthermore, I wonder how our increased tendency to share snippets of thought alongside snippets of 3rd-party content will continue to impact our level of truly deep thinking - presumably forced (or more openly embraced?) by the constraints of blogging as our once-preferred medium.

As a society, if our move toward more convenient flow also translates into at least equal levels of shared deep thinking, then I'm all for it. If not, however, then the increased-ease-of-use for increased-shallow-thinking trade-off will be harmful in the long run.

My challenge for you now is to help me understand just how harmful it will be.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Creative Commons License
Original content distributed on this site is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.