Blogging and Other Social Fixtures

In his blog post, It's the End of Blogging as We Know It, Norman Birnbach discusses Jason Calacanis' announcement that he would quit blogging and stick with sending messages to a mailing list of friends and followers. Norman goes on to say that he agrees with TechCrunch that this move won't matter, because someone will just post the emails from Calacanis in a blog.

I believe this is completely correct. And it comes down to a very simple reason. You can't close Pandora's box. There are millions of people worldwide blogging. The blogosphere has developed into this complex web with its own etiquette, memes and niches. You can't get millions of people to stop doing such a routine action with a simple announcement.

The only way to stop blogging as a worldwide activity is to change it or replace it with something different. But this is already happening. Some people have changed from blogging to twittering. Others no longer do simple blogging, but social networking with a blog as part of the activity. Others do video blogs on YouTube or Digg articles to scratch that social itch. And if the Internet has taught us anything, it's that something new is just around the corner.

Online interaction and social media is now part of our culture and one Internet personality who only has recognition in tech circles is not going to change that.

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  • Mark Zorro

    Norman, what’s important I think is the ability to keep a level head while opening up human foibles to personally examine them. The source well of great humour is happiness, but today a lot of our humour suffers from collective anxieties, so we use humour to infect each other, rather than prod, push and realize what we are personally examining is not a collective thing, but a different viewpoint of an elephant which usually mostly harmless. I am just waiting for a techie song about the A-List, which no one has written yet, but we have already heard the Richter Scales sing about “Here Comes Another Bubble” This posting is more than simply the channels we use, it is equally about rolling ones eyes at the attention we give to the A-List but also how we still need to congregate in social conferences to worship at the new alter of social software. The only internet culture conference that has remained true to its roots is ROFLCon but beyond that personally I think A-List conversations and conferences where A-Listers are exalted and fawned, these serve as an amusement me, and so I keep promising myself that I will remain silent but then belch up more words, and I can see how that can be problematic also. I therefore recognize now that I have an social acid-reflex problem with what I can only refer to as “Digital Idolatry” which includes all that spin that emanates whenever experts express things in a way which is above the world I live in, rather than with the world I live in. I can’t stomach it when I see experts begin to look inwards for answers that are and will always be out here, amongst the people I share this world with. When it comes to channels, Bruce Springsteen once said, 57 channels (and nothing on) well, that’s only true, if we don’t know what we are looking for or we know but we can’t avert our gaze. It isn’t Kevin’s posting that got me on this explorative soapbox, it’s the red meat of an A-Lister as well as verbally grouping people as an amorphous collective as if we need some special protection from a higher power and we are deemed to be the same, which in turn brings me back to that bull thing we all sometimes hark on about. I am not a part of an amorphous group, I am just ordinary joe who hopes I don’t get myself hung up by things that don’t really matter, so I can focus on the things that do, and I do feel good about writing this response or opinion, because it is helping at a personal level to reflect on what matters to me, so, Norman, my exploration or reflections are never about seeking agreement with me, but simply an exercise that sometime much later, will serve to make me a bit more wiser about my own ability to discern appreciation, and I do that by thinking out aloud - I know, a grossly and maybe even a tad disgusting little social habit......M.

  • Norman Birnbach

    I agree with Mark -- that the difference between blogging and microblogging is merely the channel, which is not a meaningful difference.

  • Mark Zorro

    Norman - the punk rocker, the hippie and the rap artists are not quite dead yet either. The measurable I consider worth noting is whether anyone on a local high street knows who Jason Calacanis is? What people on main street do IMHO is far more relevant to overall economic viability of western culture than what people do with blogging. If blogging is the post office and online video the porn store, there is a great wad and bunch of human life that is still way under-represented online but which you can still find in abundance if you take a quick quiet stroll down your local broadway. I would suggest you should get outside the relatively few islands of online excellence and the majority power law curve of online human behaviour and take a quick dip back into the high street to check out how regular folk like me still live their lives. Then feel free to jump right into this fabricated bubble of high flyers, perpetual news and link seekers and of course the lowest common denominators that Calacanis has apparently now seems to be aware do exist. It is quite OK to unplug oneself from the narcissists and plagiarists who maybe lacking original thought, but it is also quite a gigantic leap to understand the web like a Rafat Ali or a Peter Theil does (genuine entrepreneurs who know how to play this game well), so take a huge intake of fresh air and pontificate whether if there is any difference between human beings out here where I live and human beings down there where your supposition points to blogging being some new form of liberating freedom. There is only one central form of liberating freedom as far I can tell in the western world from which all other forms of liberation are connected, it's called a grocery shopping cart and ones own personal ability to choose freely and with carefree abandonment, what to personally put into it, but of course the local credit card company can soon awaken any one of us mere mortals from even that particular gratifying delusion. The only people who should really deeply care about what media device anyone of us is looking at or using is the publisher, Nielsenettes or those people webbie-people call monetizers of eyeballs, because the rest of us simply have shopping bills and credit card statements for the aforementioned shopping bills......M.

  • Norman Birnbach

    The interesting coda to Calcanis' retirement from blogging is that he continues to use Twitter. I guess Twitter is not dead -- yet. Until something supplants it. Here's an additional point: it's taken a long time for print to get to its on-the-edge-of-doom point -- but it might not actually die. Radio continues to survive long after it was written off. But I'd bet that Twitter and other Web 2.0 vanish before print and radio do, if only because print and radio have a long tradition. I use Twitter, but Twitter is the latest trend. If blogging is dead, how much longer can Twitter expect to live? (PS: I don't think blogger is quite dead yet.)

  • Manjit Syven Birk

    Why shouldn’t he reject mass behaviour, Calacanis can survive as a going concern without the persistent flow of mass behaviour and so I think Calacanis is saying that he does not need mass behaviour in his own life because he is tired of it and then cites why he is disillusioned about it. There are many media properties who cannot survive without being dependent on some form of mass behaviour so I applaud Calacanis, because he is doing more than blogging about not blogging, he’s defining his own imperative that he no probably no longer seeks or subscribes to wormy sycophantic or maybe worse, even gormy psychopathic-like behaviour. Mass behaviour (or the culture of followers) as you so rightly suggest could be viewed as a pandora’s box and I think woe to her or him who gets sucked into that pandora’s box. Calacanis is no Andrew Keen, he’s not taking sides, but simply detailing a reality pertaining to his own interactive life, as he sees it. If the counter-culture gave us cyber-culture, cyber-culture is hopefully beginning to close the very loop which originally gave it both much meaning and birth. (so I say Blessed be the Hippie Generation for their great contribution to this utopia). As for Pandora’s box, according to Wikipedia, it contained all the evils of mankind, so I guess that is as an apt analogy for mass behaviour than any I could ever have personally inferred or suggested. In an interactive universe, the megaphone is an absurdity for those who still think that media still constitutes as an acceptable form of social interruption. Personally Jason Calacanis isn’t saying he is shutting up or shutting up shop but simply using email as his preferred channel, for he seems to have just found out what I have known for some time, that the curse of popularity is a right royal waste of ones own time; and just like the psychiatrist in the movie “Good Will Hunting” said when Will jerked his chain, “I have better things to do with my time”, My personal view of media, however, is more akin to Will Hunting’s refrain "You ****** people baffle me. You spend all your money on these ****** fancy books, you surround yourself with them, they're the wrong ****** books." And in my case “the wrong books” constitutes opening up Pandora’s Box as a surrender to mundane mainstream realities, rather than sit back and simply appreciate and pay attention to why someone would engage a blog about not blogging and then coming up with an answer that may be personally useful. At least this is one more reminder to me why “silence is golden” and also an intelligent maturity in modernity (especially when I achieve total complete mastery over the wagging uvula – which obviously from my response here, is an artform that I am still in the process of fully mastering)......M.