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The Future of Website Design. It's Called a Blog.  

:: Sunday, January 08, 2006 ::

The line between a full blown web site and a blog is changing. For the moment, it's still possible to tell a blog from most websites because of the way the page is designed. But, you won't be able to tell the difference much longer.

Corporate Greed Marks New Territory

Fading fast are the days when the focus of blogs was to "Let me tell you about my sucky day". Today, there are two blog power sites that are filling the new Blog-Age. One is Performancing.com and the other is Andy Beal's new company, Fortune Interactive and their Blog Marketing division.

Marketing. Return on Investment. Corporate communication. Media kits. Knowledge management. Customer service. Wasn't this what web sites and Intranets were for? When did blogs lose out to the whims of corporate endeavors?

Keeping Up With the Joneses

I'm not one of those folks who buys a boat just because my neighbors bought one, nor do I compete for the greenest, dandelion-free lawn in town. However, I know I'm buckling to the pressure of the New Blog Sensation. I want to know where the appeal is to "professional blogging". If my blog is going die, I want a damned good reason for euthanizing it.

I wrote about my concerns before, in When Did Blogs Sell Their Souls to the Devil?. I can feel the power of revenue generation pulling at me. I know I'm about to be assimilated by the new Professional Bloggers club because their tea parties are so, well, in vogue.

Community Centers Are Us

I don't think the rush to own a blog is doing blogging any favors. Community Centers, which blogs have evolved into, are just web sites. There used to be a difference between a website and a blog. Blogs rely on different software and require different forms of support. They look pretty much the same, in that you can tell them from websites.

I think we're moving into the next generation of web site development. It's not about the blog "uniqueness factor" anymore. It's a "blogging type of website" growth spurt spurred on by those who see the benefits of:

ease of use
cheap software
cheap support
meets a new kind of audience
generates a new passion for what made the Internet so exciting in the first place - networking and creating communities

It's no wonder corporations and businesses want in. But, since they do, and are, the nature of blogs is changing. There is less of a distinction between a website and a blog.

Bathwater, Babies, and Blogs

With so many millions of blogs, competition is fierce. This has created a new set of problem solving, such as networks, communities and search engines and directories just for blogs. Consider the rape of blogs, where content is scraped for someone else's gain.

Try finding the witty writers now. Try locating niche blogs with brilliant insights and a nose for knowing good topics to cover and the talent to write about it.
When blogs are special, they are a Blog. When they get mixed up with business requirements, they are simply web site tools.

Take my local newspapers for example. They present the news as they always did on their gigantic web sites, but now they offer "bloggers" as the new "Columnist". Each column is a blog, with ads of course, and a place for comments. It's still a column, in my opinion. It is not a blog with its own brand, its own presence and, well, perhaps even, freedom of speech. When you have to write for the PUBLIC, and the target market is EVERYBODY, every word could be a potential bomb. These blog writers have Editors.

The Old Thrill of the Accidental Blog Pop-In

The other day, by way of searching on some logs to see who was finding this blog, I found myself at the web site of a New York city self-proclaimed "sex worker". (I'm not kidding.)

I read the first post in his blog, and was instantly entertained with a hilariously descriptive story about how his date one night, who happened to not be a paying client, was a very loud "Screamer". He was mortified that everyone in his apartment complex could hear her during their throes of passion. Later, as he was taking her home, a neighbor happened to come out of the apartment across the hall and looked right at him. He now believes he has to move away. Not because of the "business" he is in, but because he's embarressed at his date.

This is kick-ass authentic blogging at it's best. I loved the story. The writer wrote with such talent that I'm unsure of his real occupation. This is the magic! It's more alluring to me that I'm unsure who this blog author really is and it adds to the charm of his blog.

In fact, that is what blogs are. When you leave one, you want to talk about it. You want to return to it. You care about what the blogger has to say.

Where do we blog to now, in 2006?

I'm hoping to find the balance between growing a blog and letting the medium blossom into something that gives back something productive (like a paycheck, brand, reputation, news source) and contains the magic that once was called "a blog".

Note: The inspiration for this post is credited to a conversation found in the Performancing Member Survey. Specifically starting with How Do You See Blogging Changing in 2006?

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 1/08/2006 05:10:00 PM

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