Is Blogging Evolving Into Life Streams?

Top Bloggers Spend Less Time Blogging
I’ve noticed a gradual change in what we know as blogs when Scoble and Shel wrote the book on Naked Conversations. Both of them are now focused on micromedia: Shel has an upcoming book on Twitterville, and Scoble spends more time promoting Friendfeed than his own blog. Secondly, I just learned that Edelman’s top blogger Steve Rubel has retired his traditional blog, and it’s now a life stream, which aggregates content from any source. Of course, I don’t need to mention that many of the top 100 blogs all look like mainstream media, with a team of writers, photographers, and editors.

It seems as if blogging is becoming old hat, or at least evolving into something smaller, faster, and more portable. I’m with Louis Gray, (who has finally blogged his stance –great graphics) I’m not going to give up my blog, instead, I think of it as the hub of content, and the rest of the information I aggregate (notice the Twitter bar up top and the Friendfeed integration below). To me, joining the conversation is certainly important, but it doesn’t mean the hub (or corporate website) goes away.

More Lifestreams Mean More Noise
As more and more people create content on microchannels, we experience more ambient intimacy, but also a lot more data. For example, Scoble pointed out on our panel last night with Mark Silva and Kevin Marks that the iPhone has resulted in 400% increase in uploads to YouTube. I assure you, we have no time to consume all the content created just from our immediate friends and family –the hours in the day stay fixed.

Steve Rubel’s switch to using Posterous (the tool that fuels his lifestreaming) makes sense for him. Why? he’s slowed down on blogging and increased his activity in Twitter and Friendfeed. But what’s going to work for him may be a detriment for others, this  increased volume of smaller content the need for analysis and journalism matters even more. When you look at Steve’s new stream, it’s actually heavily on target with the same content as he’s had on his blog, it’s just published faster and quicker.

Opportunity For Those That Can Distill Noise to Signal
Yes, you should certainly socially pollinate your corporate or blog content to other communities, using tools like sharethis, however these should also be hooks for people to find your content.  For me, I’m going to respect the needs of my community, and keep on blogging to distill what I think is important.

Key Takeaways

  • The trend for people to create more content is afoot, as a result aggregation tools like lifestreams, activity streams, and newsfeeds (and a new form of a social/email inbox) will take center stage.
  • You should certainly join the conversations where they exist, but this doesn’t mean your base of quality content should erode, there are long term branding and search benefits.
  • As a result, we’ll start to see new tools emerge that help to find the signal –not noise. Those who can filter out what’s important will matter more:, by using a: blog, delicious, or tweets to let your community  know what’s important.
  • Expect the same heavy pieces on this blog, but feel free to spiral with me on Twitter and Friendfeed and whatever tool comes next.  I’m going to leave the choice to you.  I want to keep the signal high for my business minded community. Needles –not hay.

Update: I gave Scoble crap last night in person over beers for not keeping his blog up. He takes my challenge and rebuts me in Friendfeed. This proves my point he’s losing his thought leadership, his voice is lost in the noise –what do you think? Update (A few days later): Scoble has come to his senses, and is putting focus on his blog now.

Steve has responded from his blog –in paragraph form, so really, he’s actually still blogging, although aggregating other interesting info in his “journal notepad”, I prefer his method over Scoble’s –he’s also retaining his brand from his own domain/URL –although he made his readers re-subscribe to RSS.

To be clear, I admire and respect both of these guys for leading the next movement.

77 Replies to “Is Blogging Evolving Into Life Streams?”

  1. I think it’s less of an abandonment of “traditional” blogging and more of a growing chasm between mainstream media and lifestream media. You said it yourself, the popular blogs are becoming more and more like mainstream media, just a little faster. They thrive on breaking news instead of unique opinion or trendsetting.

    Lifestreaming, on the other hand, has traditionally been related to daily goings-on in a person’s life. Rubel moving to a lifestream model is an example of someone adopting the method but keeping it professional. I’ve been lifestreaming professional content for about 6 months and find it refreshing.

  2. Blogging is not performed for the purpose of News anymore like it used to few years ago. It’s about opinions today.

    The same thing happened earlier to Newspapers. They used to deliver fresh news to masses. But since they have the competition of electronic medium (in terms of text, not talking about TV which we watch, not read), newspapers became all about opinions, comments and analysis.

    This is a way to find a place for blogs in the Twitter and FriendFeed world.

  3. Heh… I was about to write a very similar piece over on my blog. I’ve seen the pattern in my own writing. I am now posting less on my blogs and more on Twitter (and from there into Friendfeed). Now in my case much of this has to do with a new job role and new child (our second), but I’ve seen that I’m not alone in that trend.

    A large part of it is the ease, I think, with which we can all post into Twitter and other micromedia. The side effect of doing so, though, is that you also get sucked into *reading* the microblogging stream and then of course replying. And I have found immense value in those conversations and interactions.

    However, I definitely agree with you that there is value in longer pieces that provide context, analysis and just generally dive deeper into topics. Such posts are, in many cases, the *content* that gets then distributed and discussed in micromedia/microblogging/microsharing.

    So please do keep on providing the great posts you do here. I’ll keep on going, too, although the pace these days is admittedly slower.

    Thanks for writing this,

  4. I’m glad that you’re planning to stick with your blog. I get the value of lifestreaming and it might make sense for some, but I also think it makes the creator lazy. Blogs, when written well, provide thoughtful, filtered and thus, IMHO, more valuable content.

    Anyway, there’s a place for everything and I value the place of well written blogs.

  5. Jeremiah – I like this post. We still need places to synthesize and analyze all the content and data being created. I believe blogs, online newspapers and magazines still have a place in the ecosystem to provide this level of analysis. I am active on Twitter, Facebook and my own blog, but still like to sit back and read the New York Times, Wired Magazine, Fast Company, BusinessWeek and many books that provide perspective on the era we are living through today.

    I really like Twitter for the real-time, instantaneous information flow and life stream, but I do feel we need more depth.

    Thank you for the insightful post.

    Bert DuMars
    VP E-Business & Interactive Marketing
    Newell Rubbermaid

  6. Any bozo can write 140 characters. Blogs of any quality require a little more thought.

    I think the real-time stuff is great. But just as the presence of CNET and Google News does not eliminate the need for books, the presence of Twitter does not eliminate the need for blogs.

  7. Bert, Josh

    The same thing goes for companies, the opportunity to aggregate the important signal in a marketplace (from writing devices in Bert’s space to technology) will be key.

  8. Lifestreaming was my first tweet this morning. Great for publishers, but what and how’s the utility from the reader’s end? One to many – many friends and followers in many places and formats all at once – means it will be easier to distribute many good stuff and gigabytes of bad stuff. Great tool if you use it right. Not holding my breath on that bell curve. We’ll definitely be APIing these types of aggregated-distribution tools into our software. Keep feeds super focused on what our various audiences are following. Look forward to hearing tools for flipside of LS, the streamed, not just the streamer. Curious to learn more about the tagging caliber of LS.

    Andre Yap
    CEO Ripple100
    Social Software + Metro-Centric Media for World of Mouth

  9. HAHAHA! I love the Followcost site. How annoying will it be to follow @jowyang?!

    BTW — I hope you prefer my FB profile pic over my Twitter pic. 😀

  10. Spot on Jeremiah, I’ve already had to remove Steve Rubel from all my rss feeds due to him filling them entirely in the space of one morning! A shame, I enjoyed his insight, but I think its a bit self indulgant for him to expect us to want to hear from him every five minutes. He seems to have gone overnight from being a valued resource to being an annoying distraction! If my top 5 daily blogs follow his lead there would be no physical way to digest all the info, things would be published faster than can be assimilated.

    Note to Life Streamers – we have lives too, your turning what was an interesting read on peoples lunches into a full time job to keep track of!

  11. Thanks for writing this post Jeremiah, I like your thoughts on this one. From the readers’ point of view I hate the shift towards more life streams instead of blogposts which I’m much better able to filter. The stream of info just becomes too much noise and I feel I’m either missing things beacuse of attention to certain people is leaking away, or missing things because I skip formerly interesting people from my feeds.

    On the other hand.. I can’t read all the interesting stuff anyway and I’m pretty happy with my Delicious filters and link tweeting tweeps. Still like the thought of being able to filter some myself though so keep up the quality blog pls!

  12. I saw Steve’s posts about the switch to lifecasting and, like Dan, was going to write something on my blog, but I think you summed it up well.

    Did you see the Hitwise statistic that more than half of Twitter traffic (56%) is sent to other content-driven online media sites? It’s a good reminder that there still has to be some content to “share,” less these microsharing tools become rather boring.

    I like Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. for helping me to discover new bloggers, tools and resources that I might not find on my own, but I can’t imagine all these little media snacks taking the place of the blogs posts I read regularly. Good content takes time to write and to consume. I’m not sure we’re ready to move away from that just yet.

    Of course, Steve and Robert likely have other goals when it comes to sustaining their communities.

  13. I think most people always wanted that gold standard of social media – extensible conversation. Most did not have, as you and (occasionally) I do, a desire to work out equations, forward arguments and so on. Most want to chat, exchange, go to the online equivalent of a party. I certainly have found that I am more selective about what I blog since I have alternative outlets for the smaller, squirrellier, more dynamic aspects of my personality.

    For those who need a blog, I think their approach is largely the same as the bummed-out poet in John Donne’s poem, “The Triple Fool.”

    I thought, if I could draw my pains
    Through rhyme’s vexation, I should them allay.
    Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
    For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

  14. Thanks for writing this piece, Jeremiah. This adds some much needed diversity of opinion to the blogging vs. lifestreaming conversation.

    While there are significant shifts in communication that underlie Steve’s move (shorter attention spans, more demands for attention, increasing popularity of micromedia, etc.), I can’t help but wonder if an “official” switch to lifestreaming just codifies a de facto lifestream.

    If you like Steve Rubel (or Jeremiah Owyang or Robert Scoble or Scott Hepburn or Oprah), chance are you subscribe to his blog, follow his Tweets, read his status updates on Facebook and have lunch with him in real life.

    Isn’t that already lifestreaming?

    And, even though Steve will be aggregating and streaming his life VIA Posterous, I’ll still CONSUME his stream primarily via Twitter or Facebook (or more likely, Tweetdeck). Why? Because those platforms let me aggregate multiple people’s streams/conversations in one place.

    This is an important topic, and one I admit I haven’t wrapped my mind around entirely. Thanks for offering analysis that gives this subject some depth.

  15. I think it is still the old case of appropriate tools for the individual and his specific needs and time management skills as well. For some the immediate and short nature of Tweets and shares via delicious/digg/stumbleupon/friendfeed etc are more convenient and adequate, for longer thoughtful pieces and analysis such as your posts blogging will remain the modality of choice.

    And that is why the debate will carry on, neither side will necessarily be right or wrong, it depends on your needs and inclination whether you microblog or lifestream or blog full length. And this is where the strategy part becomes important, whether for your own personal brand or as community manager or strategist in the employ of someone else.

  16. I would say that blogging definitely is, there are people like Perez Hilton and John Chow actually becoming millionaires from their blogs. What’s up with that, it’s crazy!

  17. I think that this is a revolution in the making. We never had this kind of data before meaning that now people talk about what they think, what they want and how they feel about things. These data can be analyzed and many interesting insights can be extracted (with Twitter being a personal favorite)

  18. Very respectful, constructive, and intuitive post, Jeremiah. I agree 100%. Frankly I see opportunity here – as more people leave blogging it gives me opportunity to build my own voice through my blog. There are fewer people to compete with, so long as I utilize social networks and viral technologies to distribute that voice. My blog will always be my central hub for all content I produce though – everything else revolves around that.

  19. BTW, you couldn’t have put together a better panel the other day. Each of you have such unique perspectives, but are very well respected in your industry. I know each of you personally and would have loved to have been there – thanks to Louis Gray for taking notes. If you see Silva again tell him hi for me.

  20. I just looked at Steve Rubel’s “lifestream” and don’t get all the fuss. He is posting 3-4 articles a day of varying lengths, with most consisting of links, photos, and quick commentary. This is how a lot of people (Kottke, Dave Winer, Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit, etc.) have been blogging for years and years. I’m not sure how Rubel’s discovery that a blog doesn’t have to consist of long essays is news.

  21. I agree, as you say, “…When you look at Steve™s (Rubel) new stream, it™s actually heavily on target with the same content as he™s had on his blog, it™s just published faster and quicker…”

    The key change is faster and the reason this is a good move is we, in the community, have less time for reading posts. While they should still be written when necessary, we need to be even more selective than in recent past over what we spend time on.

    A quick stream of comments, links and questions fits the new rhythm of our lives now. We have given up on ever reading every word from every relevant writer, we need to dip into subjects, skim thru available resources.

    Also, we can impact our community best by streaming our “headline news”, being a presence in many places, we no longer can expect to capture readers with “sticky” content. The flow has made us all non-stick.

  22. Jesse thanks. There’s a smart strategy which retains your blog as the hub, but aggregates and provides hooks to other conversations. The complete other route is going completely distributed and losing your hub all together. There has to be balance –both ways.

    Stephen, I think Steve actually is doing it pretty well.

  23. I noticed the same trend and see myself participating in this way also. I used to write substantive posts and commentary on my old WordPress blog, then I switched over to Posterous and now my posts are mostly snippets, quotes, videos, and photos. I also spend more time on Twitter. I know that what I’m producing is a lot more “noisy” – I get fewer comments that I used too for example – but it’s just so much more convenient and blogging for me is much more personal. I think you’re spot on about this is being an opportunity for those who choose to keep up their old blogs. Yours is one of the few I read – it’s extremely relevant, honest, and thoughtful. And call me old fashioned, but I can’t make any sense of FriendFeed and I’ve been filtering my Twitter feed to fewer and fewer users to reduce the noise.

  24. I have been blogging for 7 years. I also regularly post to Twitter & Facebook, but for me, the blog is my repository of quality content. As a professional writer, I create short stories 800-1000 words long with beginnings, middles and ends. I think it’s important that writers still have that kind of voice. At the same time, I’ve noticed that most of my comments now come through FB not on the blog itself. Ironic since I have thousands of readers of my blog but “only” 500 FB friends (and about the same Twitter followers).

  25. No reason a blog can’t be a lifestream but that’s not necessarily content. Or content folks will be seeking out via searches and word of mouth for success.

    I’m keeping my main blog, started another, and am contributing to two others. None of them is lifestreaming. That’s what I use Twitter and Facebook for.

    Blogging isn’t dead, but it’s become ubiquitous. It was geeks and the hardcore to begin with, now everyone has a blog. The original bloggers are somewhat moving on to what’s most effective for what they’re trying to communicate. Today that’s micro-tools like Twitter and Friendfeed. Tomorrow it’ll be something else.


  26. Hmmm – I am indeed an avid Twitterer – and occassionally post musings – and share useful links etc. The majority of stuff I read on Twitter however, tends to link to someone’s blog post. The resources you use and leverage are surely down to what your objective is. If it’s about brand building and sharing knowledge – then a blog is a perfect resource for that. Snippets in Twitter really don’t compare – however, Twitter is a really useful resource for promoting your posts. I’ve written a post about social media integration and what piggy backs what – and also a post about blogging frequency. I see micro blogging and blogging as two totally separate mediums – which whilst complimentary – don’t overwrite the other!

  27. Blogs are psuedo websites. Blogs are many mini free ebooks aimed at creating authority so the writer can back-end sell consulting services or the like.

    Scoble doesn’t need to boost his blog anymore because he already “owns” his brand. Same with Israel–although he still works very hard on his (macro) blog.

  28. Why are blogging and lifestreaming mutually exclusive?

    I doubt I could ever explain something like health care reform in 140 characters, and the links I post are so complex that most readers can follow them. I do a lot of geek-to-human translation, and it requires some time and effort. But then I post the results to the lifestream places. I have a tumblr, but all it does is log my more evanescent posts to Twitter and other places as a feed. I feel like I do life stream, and certainly make too much noise for many people who follow me. How will more noise help? It just leads to fake fights like whether Arrington is leading the mob or whatever. And I say that with great love for @scobelizer.

  29. I would use livestreaming and social networks as an added feature for your blogs. I don’t think blogging will be replaced, just enhanced. Video is a more personal way to express your thoughts, as text can easily be misread, but many people prefer reading to watching video. It’s all about adding your personality in ways you feel comfortable.

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  31. Sorry, late to the conversation.

    Facebook as the simple ubiquotous lifestream platform, no? It has evolved to the point where I aggregate compelling content from Huffington Post or GigaOM and read it / comment on it when I want to. I can transmit my own thoughts and connect those I feel should be connected. I can enrich my comments with photos and video. I can manage lists and provision those I want to provision. It is a rich RSS.

    I don’t have time to visit individual blogs. I want information to come to me.


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  33. Nice post, really blogging is the most fantastic and innovative work for all to post his/her life experience and information and share with world wide internet users.

  34. Nice post, really blogging is the most fantastic and innovative work for all to post his/her life experience and information and share with world wide internet users.

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