Is it me, or is it quiet out there?
I haven’t posted here for ages and ages, mainly because I’ve been in the first three months of a new job, which is always a mad time. I’ve even found it quite hard to keep on top of my Bloglines feeds, so have been generally feeling out of the loop. But when you join a big company like Yahoo!, you inevitably find it hard to scope out the outside world, mainly because Yahoo! feels like a world unto itself.
So I’m easing myself back into the stream. And I’m finding….well, not much at all really. Key commentators that I used to read avidly just aren’t posting very much, or if they are the stuff they’re posting is less and less earthshaking than it was.
An obvious explanation is that everyone’s busy. But I think two other subtler forces are at play which might have implications for Web content and community.
Firstly, people are getting smarter at handling partial attention. See Jeremy Zawodny’s post Getting Back in the Saddle as an example of how people have just downsized the amount of incoming data and material they’re handling (Matt McAllister has a fascinating alternative riff on this). This seems to be at least partly a reaction to the gluttonous orgy of information acquisition we’ve all individually been on for the past couple of years. But let’s be honest – we’ve all been dealing with an entirely different colour of information availability for a while now. It’s like the oxygen quotient in air was suddenly ramped up, and we breathed it in only to find it made us all a little sick.
How will this map out across the general population – the unearly adopters? A lot of assumptions have been made about people’s capacity to consume media, and some of those assumptions may well have been out of whack, as they were based on what we, the early adopters, were consuming. And if we’re feeling engorged, you can bet the average online punter is also feeling more than a little queasy.
But there’s something even more subtle going on, specifically about professional industry blogging. It seems to me that the explosion in Web creativity that was unlocked by the emergence of standards, and RSS in particular, around 2002 came at the same time as the emergence of blogging. And what did these new bloggers write about? New forms of publishing, standards, APIs, the decline of old media, the emergence of citizen journalism, the whole paraphernalia of emergent media which standards-based platforms unleashed.
And it’s here. It’s already with us. It’s live. The biggest two launches from Yahoo! in the last month have been Video and Tech, both of which are essential poster children for the Web 2.0 generation, packed to the gills with user generated content, folksonomic tagging, open corporations (Video has a link to the team blog at the top right of every page), Ajaxy goodness and real people. When the biggest Web company on the planet is already throwing these shapes, it’s easy to see why some of my favourite commentators have got little new to say. And why Tim Berners-Lee is already moving on to talking about Web 3.0.
So maybe there won’t be a whole lot on this blog from now on. Or maybe I’ll find something else to talk about. Or maybe the Next New Thing will explode from out of left field (in a Windows Vista payload, perhaps?), and we can all trackback each other again like it’s 2005. We’ll have to wait and see.