Bloggers losing ground as authority figures?

That’s the question asked (and slightly reworded here) by Brian Solis in Techcrunch this morning (story here; hat tip to twitterer Andrew_Arnold there).

Solis argues that new micromedia platforms like Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook are eroding the authority — and value? — of the traditional blog. (Seems odd to call blogging a “traditional” communication form, but traditions seem to come and go quickly in Internet time. Oh, well.)

Says Solis:

We are learning to publish and react to content in “Twitter time” and I’d argue that many of us are spending less time blogging, commenting directly on blogs, or writing blogs in response to blog sources because of our active participation in micro communities.

With the popularity and pervasiveness of microblogging (a.k.a. micromedia) and activity streams and timelines, Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and the like are competing for your attention and building a community around the statusphere – the state of publishing, reading, responding to, and sharing micro-sized updates.

Fair enough assessment. Now that many of my offline social networks (friends, family, work associates, high school and college classmates) have migrated to online sites like Facebook and Twitter, I find myself passing little electronic notes back and forth in the form of tweets and wall posts, rather than comments on blogs.

This new genre of rapid-fire interaction is further distributing the proverbial conversation and is evolving online interaction beyond the host site through syndication to other relevant networks and communities.

In most cases attention for commenters at the source post are competing against the commenters within other communities. Those who might typically respond with a formal blog post may now choose to respond with a tweet or a status update.

True again. But what about the source material so many Twitter users fall back on? They pull from blogs and retweet the links, in much the same way old-school bloggers would quote and link back to a news source. Just as I was about to lodge a protest along these lines against Solis’ argument, he turned the tables on me.

Authority within the blogosphere demands a new foundation to measure rank and relevancy that is reflective of the real world behavior and interaction of those who are compelled to link back to the post and extend its visibility in new, engaging, and prominent communities.

Ah, the old devil’s advocate post. It gets me every time. Solis is a blogger, so I should have known he didn’t really buy his own argument.

But what about measuring authority?

Solis goes on to philosophize about a new sort of Technorati-ish measurement for Twitter links, and so on. (Read the post if you’ve got 10 minutes to spare and are interested in that kind of thing.) But as this-here post shows — a blog post that links to a blog that was discovered via a tweet from someone I follow on Twitter — the social media sphere is far too interconnected. The various strands of the social media sphere are far too entangled to tease out and separate into disparate, measurable units. What’s really needed is an index that connects blog authority to Twitter authority to Facebook authority to FriendFeed authority to …

Or maybe Solis and I just need to get out more.

P.S. – Comments are fixed now, so feel free to leave me one.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

6 thoughts on “Bloggers losing ground as authority figures?”

  1. The thing about social media is, as you said, that everything feeds into one another. What moves the most traffic to my blogs these days? Posting links on Facebook and Twitter. How many people have friended or followed me after they first read my blog? Many.

    This differs from traditional media tending to be an either/or. I’ll curl up with the Sunday paper while listening to some kind of background music (chill, trip-hop, jazz) but wouldn’t do so while listening to NPR. Nor while driving. With social media, every conversational space is a room connecting to a larger structure.

  2. While I’ve started to use Twitter to share interesting and provocative articles that I might once have blogged about, I appreciate its limitations as well as its benefits. There’s a wonderful ability in in Twitter to exchange zingers, but none whatsoever to engage in any kind of thoughtful, in-depth conversation. You need a blog with comments for that exchange to occur. Not an either/or situation, but a both/and.

  3. Thanks for the insights, folks.

    Karine – Your question sort of hits home: Who cares about authority? I suppose “authority” is one aspect of measurement, and doesn’t everybody care about measurement?

  4. @karine & @andrew – I have to agree with Andrew and say that authority does matter because one of the fuels of social media is social proof. I’ve come across excellent people with great content who only have 60 followers just because they don’t know the right people or have the influence to push traffic to their blog. It’s this weird Catch-22 social media is stuck in. We don’t want to care about authority, but we end up doing so. It’s assumed that someone with 6,000 subscribers must provide more value than somebody with 12. I’m relatively new to social media so it’s been a bit of a transition to break-in as well. In all honesty I don’t know where I’d be without Brad J. Ward behind my back making sure people knew I had some quality things to say.

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