The One Way Nature Of Blogs

There’s a woman who reads this blog regularly who I went to high school with 30 years ago. We were two of the "smart kids" in our grade. We took the same classes and had a pretty similar experience in high school (it sucked). Both of us went on to really great schools, blossomed, and have gone on to leave fulfilling adult lives.

She emailed me yesterday about a small problem she had with my Donors Choose Bloggers Challenge (reminder, I still need some help getting to $25k). We traded a few emails and in one of them she said:

That’s one of the great things (or maybe not) about blogging.  I haven’t
seen you in almost 30 years, but I am fairly up to date on your business
and family etc…  Of course, you know nothing about mine so it’s pretty
one sided.

It’s true. She knows a ton about what I’ve been up to and I don’t anything about what she’s been up to. I asked her if she blogged. She doesn’t and then sent me a two paragraph email update which I read with interest. Her point was she’s got nothing to blog about. That’s for her to decide, but I am not so sure.

I read blogs all the time from people who leavehave lives that many would say are not worthy of blogging about. They are some of the best blogs I read. It’s not so much about what you do, it’s about what you think and how you share those thoughts with everyone else.

But until everyone has a blog, this medium is still going to be pretty one way (me talking to you). That’s why I love comments so much. I want every commenter in the entire blog world to have a single page where all of their comments are captured. Then they’ll all have a blog that I can subscribe to. And it won’t be one way any more.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Silverbrow

    That’s a fantastic idea. Is there anyway to do it with RSS or Twitter like system? I always forget about half the comments I leave on people’s sites, usually only remembering when I look in my stats and see the referring link. It’s particularly useful if you comment on a wide variety of blogs. My main universe are food blogs but regularly stray off into business, tech and political blogs. No doubt lots of people do just the same thing. So the question is, is a comment aggregator feasible given all the different blogging interfaces?

  2. Tony Alva

    I have no idea how you managed not to have fun in high school. I familiar with the story of the dude that terrorized you that you wrote about and can related, but we were terrorized too, but still managed to drink fully from the cup.I enjoyed this post. I have a blog that is largely unread but for a few. I still enjoy writing it for no other reason than to keep family and friends up on my thoughts and goings on. I’ve got a music player that now allows me to accompany my music posts with the song(s) that I’m discussing. I love making stuff like that work. True to what you wrote, a couple of folks from my faithful readership have made overtures about firing up their own blog, but always make the same comment about having nothing to blog about. My response is always the same, “If you’re alive, you’ve got something to blog about”.

    1. RacerRick

      High school sucked. I wasn’t terrorized, but it still sucked.

  3. Thomas Purves

    Essentially this is what facebook is for. Despite the once rapid growth, blog-writing has never penetrated the greater part of the population. Tools like facebook however, make the type of social presence broadcasting you talk about much easier and accessible for a much wider circle of people.At the same time facebook is also “competion” for the personal content of blogs and the flavour of bloggosphere itself changing.I wrote a little more about this here.…”Have you noticed the blogosphere growing quiet? The pros and the a-listers and the corporate blogs are still at it as strong as ever. But tumbleweeds blow through the empty feed folders of personal friends. Flickr too is fading away. Maybe it’s just summer and we’re all outdoors, as we should be, instead.But I think it’s Facebook, first twitter, but now much more powerfully Facebook is sucking all that personal stuff, all that social presence and ambient intimacy behaviour and desires (usecases for you techies) out of the blogosphere and in to it’s fearsomely purpose-designed and boxy blue and white world.There’s a flavourshift in the blogosphere. The olde flavour of blogging is leaving us.When you think of it, (personal) blogs never really caught on anyway.Compare this one data point, my blogroll: 21 my FB Friendlist: 249…”(since I wrote this now 300+ and growing, close friends with blogs still 21)

    1. Dan Entin

      I tend to agree with Thomas. I find that I am updating my Facebook status far more often than my blog and I know that my friends are reading what I’m up to because I’ll get a wall post or message from them in response.

      1. fredwilson

        i am curious how old you two are (thomas and danentin). I don’t really use facebook as hard as i try to. is it a generational thing? i blog, read blogs, twitter away incessantly, but only visit facebook about once a week. and i have 193 friends on facebook and 363 unanswered friend requests. so it’s not that i don’t have a social network there, it’s just that i don’t find it useful.fred

        1. Thomas Purves

          I am 31, but I am also Canadian. The Facebook demographic is much different in Canada (and everywhere else in the world _except_ the USA) where here facebook is more representative and not dominated by the college crowd.Also 1 in 5 of all Canadians(!) is on facebook, so we’re an odd case in that regard, or an interest petri dish for looking at the future of a society saturated by social networking.That being said, some of us are beginning to show signs of facebook fatigue. All the new apps on facebook are starting to dilute the social value of facebook with a lot of social spam and not especially entertaining distraction. Hopefully, facebook will somehow address this.Either way however, the point holds that facebook has grown far faster than blogging and it has cannibalized a lot the more personal and social side of blogging behaviour.

        2. candice

          I don’t know if it’s age based. I’m 26 and don’t like facebook that much, and I’m even taking classes. My boyfriend is a year or so out of college and hates facebook, though he has a blog. I know several hundred people who are on there, but it’s just not that useful to me, too much upkeep. My page is on autopilot.Twitter on the other hand, is no work whatsoever, and great.

        3. Dan Entin

          Sorry – only first saw this reply now (disqus is cool but I wish it notified me when there was a reply to my comment).I am 32. I was a moderate Friendster user in the past, created a MySpace account a while back but was horrified at the user experience and then created a Facebook account as soon as it opened up but have only recently begun using it more. It’s not as useful a network for me as I’d like as many of my friends (even those who had used Friendster) are not (yet) using Facebook. But I have 127 friends vs. 1 on Twitter (again, I think recreating networks for media platforms is impractical).I think people use their FB status updates in a variety of ways but you’re right in that they’re less blog-like in content, but I think they can be more than just like an IM status. If you want to see what mine look like here is the feed:

    2. Jimmy Soho

      The above comment kind of defeats its own argument. You are commenting here on a post from Fred, you’re not commenting in facebook.

  4. Aarjav

    That’s a great idea (aggregated comments = blog). Also, type alert: “..from people who LIVE lives..”

  5. RacerRick

    Disqus is on the way. Those guys are good.A better “trackback” system is needed, too.

  6. Benja

    Awww, I know it’s a typo. But please don’t leave a fulfilling life just because you’ve got nothing to blog about. Sniff! 😉

    1. fredwilson

      Oops. Gotta fix that. I realize that typos are a regular ocurrence on this blog and apologize for thatFred

      1. RacerRick

        Someone should run an editor service where they proof blogs and have ability to log in and change grammar, spelling etc.

  7. Fred333

    Great post. That is so true about blogging being one sided medium. I guess that is why the Web 2.0 concept will hopefully fill that void.

  8. Aruni

    Great idea. In the meantime, feel free to read my blog. 🙂 As I’ve gotten into blogging I’ve discovered it takes a certain type of personality to do it…one that really enjoys doing it. I used to think there’s no way I could blog, who has the time, why would people want to read what I write…but lo and behold almost 6 months people actually visit and read the site. Who knew? But I enjoy it. It’s fun. It doesn’t feel like “work” for me…it’s sort of tapped into something I never realized was inside of me to do.

    1. fredwilson

      That last line summarizes my feelings exactlyFred

  9. Dhru Purohit

    Lucky for me (and the 20 something generation), Facebook is the vehicle. I can think of only a had full of friends that don’t use Facebook that I’d like to “stalk”.I wish the FB kids would get into twitter though. For some reason that hasn’t caught on. I have 800 or so friends on FB and 7 of them are using twitter. I wonder why that is? Yes, a decent amount of them use FB’s “status update” feature, but mostly to describe their moods rather than where they or what they are doing.I’m on a mission to get more young folk on twitter. I think FB could make it much easier if they only sync’d their status updates with the option of updating via twitter.

    1. Dan Entin

      What’s the value in using Twitter if you’re updating your Facebook status? Like you said you already have your 800 friends on FB why try and get them to join another network when you can already achieve the same thing with Facebook itself? If it’s the mobile piece you can update Facebook status from your cell phone web browser and save yourself the SMS charge.

      1. fredwilson

        there is something about twitter updating that feels more like blog posting. facebook status updating feels like updating status on IM to me. but maybe that again is a generational thing as i alluded to above.fred

        1. obscurelyfamous

          I’ve always seen it that way as well. There’s this mini-blogging experience to twitter (similar to making a small post on a tumblog). I’m glad that my tumblr and my facebook status gets updated with just a single tweet action.

        2. vruz

          I agree Twitter may be the closest thing to blogging, without the overhead and involvement that proper blogging requires.

  10. charlie gower

    I absolutely agree. Anything can be interesting if delivered or considered in an interesting manner. I’ve had some of the best conversations about things like crisps – what kind of crisps (I think that’s chips to you) would make good boats for example. As any comedian will tell you, it’s in the comments, doesn’t cocomment do a good job?

  11. Andrew Weber

    Hi Fred. I love reading your blog.I’d be very interested to know some of the blogs you read that you mentioned in this post.

    1. fredwilson

      well i’ll start by recommending tony alva’s blog and jackson’s bloghttp://agropragmo.blogspot…. also like Blue Girlhttp://bluegirlredstate.typ…and chartreuse is a little better know, but for some reason never appears on techmemehttp://chartreuse.wordpress…you’ve inspired me to write a post on blogs like theirs which i promise to do at some pointfred

  12. Rick

    If people only blogged when they had something to blog about, then there’d be no Web 2.0.

  13. robjohnson

    Intense Debate provides the ability to subscribe to anyone’s comments across any intense debate enabled blog. they also let you define your friends in their system and provide a feed of all your friends’ comments. disclaimer — I know the guys and think they’re pretty smart.

  14. oraboy

    I agree with the sentiment Fred. Blogs are a one-way, asynchronous communication medium so they’re not the best way for people to stay in touch, connect & engage (billboard vs. meetings).Blog comments are great but they are still asynchronous and don’t allow for real conversations (swapping sticky notes on the wall vs. having a discussion). IMHO, next innovations in this space would allow for more real-time engagements between the blogger and his community of readers.BTW: I’m sure there are many people (like me 🙂 that are faithful follows of you and your blog that you don’t know about… maybe you can do a quick survey asking people to tell you if they read your blog and why. Contribute a few cents into the google-reader-blog-popularity-stats going on in the blogsphere.

  15. Chris O'Donnell

    I disagree that the asynchronous nature of blogging is a bug. It’s a feature! The odds of me being available at the same time as one of my readers is slim. I’m busy, they are busy, we could be separated by multiple time zones, etc. The ability of a conversation to happen in spite of those hurdles is the real magic of blogging.

    1. oraboy

      I agree that is part of the magic of blogging and it’ll never go away.But there is value in a something complementary that allows people to congregate at a particular time and engage in more real time conversation …

  16. David G

    Great post – personally I far prefer leaving comments to writing blog posts.CoComment used to do a fairly good job of archiving comments e.g. you can see my (Zillow related) comments here:…. Unfortunately, they’ve overdone it a bit lately and I find the site too noisy – but yes, organizing blog comment content is a huge opportunity.

  17. Jimmy Soho

    Hi Fred,Therefor we need a commenting service. You should be able to say: hey, instead of managing the comments myself, have the commenting service manage comments to my blog. Via the commenting service you should then be able to see all past comments of a commenter across all blogs. If this commenting service is open enough I’m sure all the major blogging software would support this[ . ] Have this blog software manage your comments[ X ] Manage my comments via the world wide commenting serviceJimmy

    1. fredwilson

      that’s disqus and that’s why i’ve moved to their service from typepad’s own comment system

  18. vanelsas

    Hi Fred, I feel exactly the same as you do. I like interaction, and one of the ways to do that is look past the blog posts into the comments. If people take the time to write up a comment than it shows interest to me, and for me a reason either start following them or at least reply to the comment. I wrote a post a few days ago in response to Tim O’Reilly’s comment that the blogosphere is becoming a self fulfilling prophesies with everyone looking at the same sources and scooping the same news. Interaction is a way to get out of that vacuum, it creates new ideas, new relationships. If interested you can find it here:http://vanelsas.wordpress.c

  19. Kevin Traywick

    At one point, several of my geographically-distant friends kept blogs and I actively tracked them. It became easier with some tools but eventually, it felt like work. I went back to rotating through the phone list and calling them on Sunday which, for me, is more intimate and far more compelling – I mean, some of them can really tell a story! – I guess my point is two-fold, one, I think blogs work against your personal relationships by reducing the need to interact but do a great job at letting me get to know in a stranger at a distance. For all the hyperbole about Web2.0, in this world full of misunderstandings between strangers, that’s pretty great. My second ponit is that if you try to keep up with all your friends by reading their blogs, you’ll have a 6th job this week Fred.

  20. Abhishek

    Fred,I completely agree with your sentiments on the subject. Interestingly I have been thinking about this problem for quite some time. However when I read the news about Automattic (WordPress developers) acquisition of Gravatar, I thought this problem can be solved.WordPress can do it in a straightforward way. Here is my assessment. Take a look and let me know what you think.…Abhishek

  21. Andy Parker

    Fred,I love your blog and read it all the time. Quite honestly, I don’t know how you do it. I’m a busy guy but I suspect you’re equally busy and yet you still have time to blog, twitter, comment on music, post photos. And you are one of my sources for “really interesting stuff”. I hope I figure out how to do it someday 🙂 But thanks so much for your time, energy, focus… I truly appreciate it.