I can’t tell you why it took as long for weblogs to happen as it did, except to say it had absolutely nothing to do with technology. We had every bit of technology we needed to do weblogs the day Mosaic launched the first forms-capable browser. Every single piece of it was right there. Instead, we got Geocities. Why did we get Geocities and not weblogs? We didn’t know what we were doing.
One was a bad idea, the other turns out to be a really good idea. It took a long time to figure out that people talking to one another, instead of simply uploading badly-scanned photos of their cats, would be a useful pattern. That useful pattern has churned out entire online communities of interconnected people interacting on 2.0 websites every day. The numbers are STUNNING, with Google reporting in it’s Social Media Webinar, “86 million users on social networks” with 78% over the age of 18 and the number is expected to grow to 115 Million in the next 2 years.
The evolution of 2.0 software, as talked about by Clay Shirky, has lead to a new type of communication, and as you can read from his keynotes “”A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy” it poses a big challenge for website owners and designers, bloggers, as well as a more and more “Connected” society.
You cannot completely separate technical and social issues.
Our whole society is becoming more and more plugged in, as noted in this years “future of the internet III” survey from Pew.
The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic social relations.
It’s up to us to determine what kind of actions we will choose to make. We’ve all been to a blog post where a flame war has sprouted, or just random insults fly… The question about our future is will it be the case of “Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fudgewad” as Viginia Nussey of Bruce Clay noted in her article “Let’s make intolerance intolerable“, or will we take her advice and “be a smarter, wiser, bigger person”….
One of the lessons that Clay Shirky teaches us is that owners of 2.0 sites actually can design platforms that encourgage good behavior, by adding member recognition, kharma, and a profile system. However, a site owner can’t just step back…your online community has to be engaged. So as a blogger, site owner, or moderator, you need to remain engaged in your community to keep it viable.
As users, we need to see ourselves as members of our online communities and work together to encourage a positive experience. Desphinn bad comments, thumb down knee jerk flame comments and take the time to read your comments before you post them.