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Is Twitter Making Us Dumb? Bloggers, Please Come Back

By Rich

When I first started the Securosis blog back in 2006 I didn’t really know what to expect. I already had access to a publishing platform (Gartner), and figured blogging would let me talk about the sorts of things that didn’t really fit my day job.

What I didn’t expect, what totally stunned me, was the incredible value of participating in a robust community holding intense debates, in the open, on the permanent record. Debates of the written word, which to be cogent in any meaningful way take at least a little time to cobble together and spell check. I realized that the true value of blogging isn’t that anyone could publish anything, but the inter-blog community that develops as we cross-link and cross comment.

It’s how Mike Rothman and I went from merely nodding acquaintances at various social functions, to full business partners. I met Chris Hoff when I blogged I was rolling through his home town, and he then took me out to dinner. Since then we’ve paired up for 2 years of top rated sessions at the RSA Conference, and become good friends. Martin McKeay went from some dude I’d never heard of to another close friend, with whom I now podcast on a weekly basis. And those three are just the tip of the list.

Blogging also opened my world in ways I could never have anticipated. This open dialog fundamentally changed opinions and positions by exposing me to a wider community. Gartner was great, but very insular. I talked with other Gartner analysts, Gartner customers, and vendors… all a self-selecting community. With blogging, I found myself talking with everyone from CEOs to high school students.

At least I used to, because I feel like that community, that experience, is gone.

The community of interlinked blogs that made such an impact on me seems to be missing. Sure, we have the Security Blogger’s Network and the Meetup at RSA, but as I go through my daily reading and writing, it’s clear that we aren’t interacting at nearly the level of even 2 years ago. Fewer big debates, fewer comments (generally), and fewer discussions on the open record.

I’m not the only one feeling the loss. Every Tuesday and Thursday we try to compile the best of the security web for the Securosis Incite and Friday Summary, and the pickings have been slim for a while now. There are only so many times we can link back to Gunnar, Bejtlich, or the New School. Heck, when we post the FireStarter on Monday, our goal isn’t to get comments on our site (although we like that), but to spur debate and discussion on everyone else’s sites.

As you can tell by the title, I think Twitter is a major factor. Our multi-post debates are now compressed into 140 characters. Not that I dislike Twitter – I love it (maybe too much), but while it can replace a post that merely links to a URL, it can’t replace the longer dialog or discussions of blogging. I’m too lazy to run the numbers, but I’ve noticed a definite reduction in comments on our blog and blogging in general as Twitter rises in popularity. I’ve had people flat-out tell me they’ve given up on blogging to focus on Twitter. Correlation isn’t causation, and the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but anyone who was on the scene a few years ago easily sees the change.

When I brought this up in our internal chat room, Chris Pepper said:

It’s a good point that if you have a complicated thought, it’s probably better to stew on it and build a post than to type whatever you can fit in 140 characters, hit Return, then sigh with relief that you don’t have to think about it any more.

Dear Bloggers,

Please come back. I miss you.

-me

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Comments

What’s Twitter?

By Dave Funk


The Darknet site? Didn’t realize who was behind it… I can definitely start linking it in more (yes, I read it… have for years).

By Rich


Haha I’m still her, no one comments much on my site anyway.

By Darknet


Good post Rich. I hope this encourages the return of original security content on the blogosphere. Bring back all the cool security tips n tricks and the funny anecdotes. I don’t buy the ‘we are swamped’ or ‘too busy to blog’ excuse; its just that the instant feedback on twitter has spoiled us so all we need is similar acknowledgement on the blogs. Commenting on the blogs keeps the bloggers going and that is what we all need to do to keep each other motivated to write 1000 words instead of hundred and some.

By Jibran Ilyas


No!

By Amrit


Fooled ya! here is the link: http://www.ashimmy.com/2010/05/calling-all-security-bloggers-come-out-come-out-where-ever-you-are.html

By Alan Shimel


OK Rich, I put up my post joining in the call to come back, come back, where ever you are. Here is the link:

By Alan Shimel


I’m going to chime in with my two cents about why I think security blogging has dropped off in the recent years.

1. Mobility:

Everyone is a lot more mobile these days, probably due to new opportunities thanks to blogging, or just smart phones themselves. I think the problem is within the blogs themselves. Has everyone modified or enabled a scaled down version of their website/blog so it can be displayed on a mobile phone? Viewing some security blogs on a mobile device just isn’t pretty and makes it difficult. Not having the ability to comment easily on a smart phone probably hurt the discussions/debates as well. I think that’s how Twitter came into play, because of the short format of their messages, it was easier to adapt on a mobile phone and lets people connect quickly. However, to move on from Twitter and have more deeper and engaging relationships, people should move on to blogs after Twitter.

Some possible solutions:
1. Tumblr might be an answer to rally the security bloggers together.
2. Disqus might be a way to rally all the comments/debates.
3. I’d recommend following some people outside of the security blogging arena, as some Twitter users have found success at getting others to engage on their blogs via Twitter and Tumblr.

2. Economy/Society

Everyone has to perform more with less these days. I don’t think people have the time to comment, which is not a negative statement, it’s unfortunate. There is a lot more information to consume coming at everyone at much faster rates than before. I’m referring to Twitter mainly regarding the information fire hose. There are so many possibilities, ideas or new things out there.

I’ve found that Facebook is about people you use to know in high school. Twitter is about new people you want to meet (to replace those you don’t talk to on Facebook)

By securityphile


Ds,

I was an early Twitter advocate and still love it. Embracing it isn’t the problem. It just doesn’t work the same, and there is no way it can provide the same value. Even the people I’ve talked with who have left blogging for twitter agree.

Different tools for different jobs… People haven’t migrated because of the perceived value, from what I can tell.

By Rich


Evolve or die…

I used to really love usenet, I read dozens of news groups each day, and actively participated in many of them.  I don’t anymore.  Usenet is dead.  Its file sharing was replaced by P2P, its information sharing was replaced by blogging.  I’m sure usenet killed something that came before it, just as the telegraph killed off the pony express. 

The point is that if you focus on the venue and the reason that people are at the venue, then you miss the point.  If the masses can get the same perceived benefit more easily from Twitter that they could from blogs, they will migrate.  It is your challenge as a content creator to migrate ahead of, or at least with, the audience, or you will lapse to irrelevance. 

You can’t long for the good old days when the world came to your prefered venue, that’s just not productive.  Again, evolve or die.

By ds


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