The end of blogging
The way we communicate is changing at a breakneck pace. And don't expect it to slow down.
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- I'm not blogging as much as I used to. Part of it probably has to do with the job - it's just tough to find the time. (Despite what J.J. Cale might tell you, it's not easy to let it all hang out after midnight.) But I think a bigger reason simply might be that I have literally been Facebooking and Twittering (some say frittering) all my content away! I get a thought, I meet someone interesting, I go somewhere cool, and then snap crackle pop, I put it up. Crazy right? But more than that, what are the implications? As Joni Mitchell might say: "Well something's lost, but something's gained."
Of course it's more complicated than that. First this whole deal has been going on for ages (well for nearly 12 months at least.) Go back to "Is Google Making us Stupid" (The Atlantic July/August 2008.) What are the implications of more short bits of information and shorter attention spans?
That kind of stuff. The big point though is for some time now everyone has been complaining that blogging is making "real" journalism obsolete. Well guess what! Now Tweet and FB are making blogging obsolete! Or at least making it seem slow, clunky, and so ten minutes ago. What's next? Seventy character Vulcan mind-melds? Next time I see you, I'll just nod. I'll know what you're thinking. I'll know what you mean.
The latest issue of New York Magazine has a cover story on this sort of: "In Defense of Distraction," but the joke at the Fortune morning meeting today was, "yeah I started it, but I just stopped after a while." Ha ha ha. In any event it is top of mind because right now the ability, and worse, the demands on us to constantly not only be in touch but to report back (to what/whom?) is accelerating. That's right, not just growing, but speeding up. And in my experience clutter and anxiety will rise commensurately.
It won't stop any time soon either. Think of it as a virtual sequel to the 1970 book "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler. This pop-psy classic postulated that the rate of change in society was - yep you got it - increasing. And that humans had a tough time with "too much change in too short a period of time." Writ large today, right? I always thought though that after acceleration comes inevitable deceleration. At some point don't trends end and reverse? Well yeah, but maybe not in your lifetime.
The answer/solution here is unclear, but coping is absolutely necessary. One way is to drop out or draw the line. You hear it all the time: "I will not text my kids, I will not join Facebook or Twitter. I will not buy a Kindle." And that's fine. But if you're like me, you're a bit of a "please-sir-may-I-have-some-more" machine. And now you have devices and services coming (in and) out of your ears. So, coping to me becomes an extreme form of compartmentalizing. (Ah, men are so good at that, right?) The more volume and diversity of journalism and media in my life the better.
So I am reading "Cause of Death: A Perfect Little Guide to What Kills Us" by Lucy Autrey Wilson, Jack Mingo and Erin Barrett, a new book from George Lucas Books and Simon & Schuster, that George turned me on to. I am reading "The Rest is Noise" by the amazing Alex Ross (that Dan Okrent turned me on to.) I am reading Kate Kelly's "Street Fighter's" on Bear Stearns, (after reading "House of Cards," by Bill Cohan on a Kindle.) I am getting turned on to cool websites and blogs by Jessi Hempel and Jesse Eisinger (what is it with Jessi/es and blogs?) I am on our website all day and others too, and watching and going on CNN and CNBC and MSNBC. And reading the WSJ and NYT and Wash Po and the NY Po and the Huff Po, and McPaper, but not all of them every day.
And I am discovering and listening to Roy Hargrove and Benny Golson. I am seeing beautiful 19th century American paintings at my pals' gallery MME, which is part owned by Hugh McColl. And meeting with Enrique Salem of Symantec (SYMC, Fortune 500) and representatives of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Nan Zhang, the young culture editor of ChinaDaily.com. And editing the best business magazine in the world. And finally yes I am Facebooking and Twittering. And even blogging still. And yes I have to fight this feeling - this reality - that I am falling further and further behind. And I am trying to make peace with it.