Jun 16 2012
I use Twitter, Facebook and other social media sharing sites to broadcast my writing and creative content to a wider audience. But I’ve noticed that more and more of my fellow bloggers have made a fuller transition to micro-messaging. Tweets are no longer amplifying the reach of bloggers; to a large extent, tweets are the only messages a lot of former bloggers are now putting out.
As one ex-blogger/current tweeter put it to me the other day, “I just found that a lot of my ideas could really be boiled down to quick messages. I was spending so much time writing long blog posts before and now I realize I was probably wasting a lot of time.”
That made me a bit sad. My first thought was that if this guy was writing massive articles before and felt that he wasn’t losing much, or anything, from expressing himself solely through tweets, maybe he just didn’t have that much to say to begin with. Basically, he never had much to say in the first place — and whether he recognizes it or not, a single line of text is enough to express how he feels about the things that are most important to him.
My second thought is that the guy probably did have quite a bit to say before — his articles can’t all have been 98 percent extraneous hokum. But now he’s willingly edited his thoughts down into an Orwellian Newspeak format that takes out much of the useful information that he wanted to convey. I think this more accurately expresses what’s going on here. Sadly, I think it is also an accurate description of what has happened to bloggers more generally over the last 3 or 4 years.
Brevity is the soul of wit, but at some point, the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
Why is this happening? I know from personal experience that while a social web fosters infinite inspiration for writing topics, it’s a double-edged sword; knowing someone has already written on a topic and seeing their words convey essentially what you were about to write, you’re tempted to link it, quote a couple of lines and call it a day.
Instead, knowing that someone has already written on a topic close to us ought to inspire us to dig deeper. Go below the surface. Take your ideas to the next level. As Kemp Edmonds noted in his presentation yesterday, Einstein once said, “the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”