I’ve just been clearing out my RSS reader — one that I’d bolstered in 2009 with a collaborative list of marketing blogs suggested in the first useful Google Doc I think I ever saw (bravo Mat Morrison.)
Scything through the dead feeds, with posts as far back as 2006(!), it struck me just how different the world feels today. Perhaps it was something in the clumsy blogspot and typepad themes but there’s a sense of non-threatening innocence and honesty to many of them that feels at stark contrast with today’s HTML5-powered wonderblogs.
People leave comments — sometimes loads of them. Sometimes sad notes asking for one last post from that anonymous source. Of course, most of this discussion has shifted away to Twitter and beyond. But even there, I feel less and less community than when I started just a few short years ago.
Perhaps it’s because nobody told these people to blog or tweet. Back before every graduate was informed that spreading their opinions online would help them get hired, there was something in the thrill of experimenting and trying to break things.
In fact, the only reason I ever managed to squeeze any value out of Twitter was when I got bored of watching endless tweets from Stephen Fry and followed 2000 people to in a fit of rebellion to dilute him. Turns out that (after deleting a fair few of those people) there was a lot of value hidden in that haystack.
Everything today is relatively so polished and professional. You always had gimps trying to use “exciting” free ebooks to get you to fill forms with contact data — but the openness and generosity of the local community had an attractive clarity to it when I was just getting started.
Of course nothing’s really as pure as it appears in retrospect. But nearly five years on, I look for those precocious interlocutors who were just messing around to see what they could do and perhaps they’ve drowned into the noise.
Or maybe I’m just getting sentimental in my old age.