A book or a blog – and what then?

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Image by thorinside (Licence)

This week as I was subscribing to my 100th or so blog about personal development, I started to wonder how the power relations between blogs and books will go, and why the sometimes equally good information blogs provide seems like a quick snack to books.

Will you or me recommend a good post we have once seen in some blog, after the post is older than a week, older than a month, a year? I think not. And the funny thing in this is, where does the knowledge of these great posts fade after a while?

But, when you’ve read a good book, you probably recommend it to your friend. And it may be that the book has been written in the 90’s. Maybe in the 1890’s, and the content is still valid.

I started to wonder this issue about time and could it be, that blogs and the internet with its rapid motion could affect to books too?

I’m currently reading an interesting book about leadership by John P. Kotter and when I told about it to my friend, also interested about marketing etc., and mentioned that the book is from the 90’s [1990’s that is], he kind of snorted and said ‘Well, there still may be some good information in that’, like implying the knowledge was old.

It’s true that information and theories may get old, but still books by Plato or Toqueville or any other historical writer have thousands of things to say to us. The real knowledge in those won’t get old. People who are even implying something like this should realize that it’s all about applying the writer’s message to the current time.

The basics, the core, of a human being hasn’t changed, at least not that much. And to think, that people who lived in the 1700’s or 1200’s would be somehow more stupid than us, is false belief.

But to the subject again. I don’t know what will become of the blogs. Most likely blogs like this, if I stop writing it, will eventually fade away, drown underneath the information flood and nobody reads them in the following years.

What I’ve watched from the stats, almost no one is interested about posts older than 2 posts back, unless I’ve made a reference to them somewhere, either in my own post or someone else’s blog.

This was so clearly the case when I commented a post in Jari Parantainen’s Sissimarkkinointi blog [only in Finnish, sorry]. My post about using personals blogs as a marketing tool for companies, suddenly got a large boost and have been the most read post ever since.

This fading of older posts is sad in a way, and I see that this kind of behavior is the case with myself too. I rarely read post archives, but I read books written a long long ago. Why is that and why it seems that the old posts lost their meaning, or are not ‘interesting’ anymore in the long run?

Of course there’s the thing that in books the subject at hand is often processed more thoroughly and longer than in blogs, and maybe the writer has more credibility as her book has been published by a publishing company and he’s not just another self made philosopher.

This is often a problem for me when reading those ‘personal development’ blogs. I feel they can offer comfort and cheering up, but often they are written by a layman and you’ll never know how much the blogger has really processed the things he or she writes about or if they are just repeating what others have said.

In this kind of thinking, ‘is one a reliable writer or not?’ or ‘who really has something relevant to say and who doesn’t?’, may also be changing: writers aren’t ‘writers’, they are normal human beings and thus saying a blogger is somehow more unreliable than a real writer with published paper book is from the old times. Now everyone can have a voice, anyone can be a thinker in the web, if they choose to. Of course sensorship can sometimes still be a problem, even in the Web.

This makes you think that could it just be that ‘blogging’ is the new ‘writing’ in some form and a ‘blogger’ is the new ‘writer’?

But sometimes it just feels that reading a blog is like eating a snack, and when you want to enjoy a long lovely meal: you’ll read a book. The snack can be really good, but they don’t fill you completely; you need something more sturdy.

I wonder where this is going to lead, when in some time in the future all the generations have been born in to the internet age where Information is just waiting for your attention on your browser, most likely from your mobile device that is always with you; but the information is short, compressed and fast to internalize.

It seems that this ended to be a very long post – most likely the form is too long for a blog post, but what the heck, I do it for myself in the first place.

This matter is such a huge philosophical whale that I don’t believe I can totally comprehend it or most certainly can’t make any end statements of it. I can only make those obscure reasonings and hide my small capability of understanding behind it all.

‘Tweet this’

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We all have possibly noticed the social bookmark buttons that even the most boring sites have nowadays [even this one]. At socialmedia.com [the post behind the link has also some good points in it] I noticed how there was ‘Tweet this’ button in addition to the AddThis button and I began to ponder the benefits in this, or was there any. Well, once again it went to be a bit philosophical.

The Possible Sunny Benefits of ‘Tweet This’

In a perfect world, everyone is using Twitter, checking their network’s updates regularly, following their favorite brands [who already can be found in Twitter…] and even tweeting about them thus spreading the viral word about their doings – and the brand managers are happily rubbing their hands or crying ‘How anyone can control this humiliation!’ behind the scenes.

The concrete benefit in this kind of a button would naturally be that people wouldn’t always have to use copy/paste to get the URL to Twitter or use URL shortening services like TinyUrl – although when you press the ‘Tweet this’ button, the URL that is sent to Twitter is the original address and most likely a bit long one.

Should there then be a button called ‘Tweet this through TinyUrl’ button to get over this problem, I’m not that sure.

Realism in ‘Tweet This’

If people would always work as the best referee and advertisor in their social circle, messaging what to know about something right here and now, this little button would work well and benefit the community.

For example, I can see how this could possibly be used in really fast special offers; “Buy Halo 4 from us advance, only 1 hour lasting offer!” or “New models of (your brand here) shoes have arrived to the store, Come get them before they run out. Only 20 pairs to be sold.”, or in forwarding news if user would like to rapidly message to his community that something really relevant has happened in the world and you have to know it right now.

But this isn’t a perfect world, filled with only happy web 2.0 people. You need a reciever for you message.

Most people I know using microblogging services like Twitter, are people who work in the web/advertising/marketing/new media field or are otherwise interested in using services like these, and understand the benefits in these and thus are some kind of web forerunners in their social network.

But, there are still many people who I know, who don’t even know what Twitter is, how it works or what are the possible advantages in using it.

Maybe one day we all have an inner IM service we can use straight from our brains, but now there are many regular ordinary people out there believing it all ends in Facebook and Skype, and it can’t possibly get better from that.

We have people who don’t understand the benefits of using blogs or Twitter as tools for advancing their careers or in comparing what they could buy or what magnificent travelling experiences they could have and how they could do it without destroying the planet some more.

And, here’s a surprise, there are people who don’t need these services for those aforementioned things. People who want to buy, let’s say, car parts. Some of them won’t even like computers and the benefit for them in using Twitter to market themselves in getting a new job is still firmly in the future. We, those in the business, have that benefit.

I’m not saying that this will last for ever like this, generations change and people get more used to things. I’m merely advising people to think outside the box called ‘Social Media’.

This is a good reminder to the ‘professionals’ who may think that, even without doing any background search or afterwards measuring the results, if you just socialize it, it will automatically raise the revenue.

And yes, you can and have to measure results, if you think otherwise, you are not that smart. Human beings are so inventive when it comes to finding different ways to measure things that you can count on that when there’s someone inventing something new and innovative, there’s already someone inventing a way to measure its rate or how it affects on pregnant women aged 26-32 who eat 150 kilograms chocolate at 14 pm.

And once again I’m amazed how much lines can one get out from a single button. I think I’ll now take a walk in the real world outside, where there’s lots of potential people to tell what Twitter is. And I’ll tweet this post too.