One of the things I want to understand in a study I’m working now is the role of weblogs in an ecosystem of tools bloggers use to connect with each other. As part of this process I looked what changed in my own ways to connect with other bloggers as new tools appeared (=I looked only at those that appeared after I started blogging, changed something and are not “blog tools”, so email, IM, RSS readers and various blogsearch/indexes are not here):
|Tools (those in brackets I don’t use anymore)||Category||Changes in my blogging practices|
|Skype||Voice-over-IP integrated with instant messaging?||I was able to talk to bloggers I knew in a cases where a phone call would be impossible to justify (e.g. professional contacts from other countries I did not work directly together) – this definitely contributed to stronger connections and joint work with some of them
Since it was broadly adopted in my weblog network, it also replaced multiple instant messaging accounts that I kept to be able to connect with bloggers who used different tools
|del.icio.us||Social bookmarking||Weblog posts that included links to interesting resources disappeared from my weblog
Some of my contacts subscribe to my links, so they have an idea what I’m browsing even if I don’t write anything in a weblog (=I know that they know that I’m still alive 😉
|(Ryze, Orkut), LinkedIn, Facebook||Social network sites||For me those serve as contact management tools, helping to remember who is in my network, acquire their contact details or keep up with major changes in their life (e.g. work changes via LinkedIn)
Early tools in this category (Ryze and Orkut) resulted in all kinds of reflections about the differences between using them and blogs in respect to networking. Don’t know how much it changed how I connect with bloggers, but it definitely contributed to my understanding of weblogs as a medium to communicate and to connect.
|Flickr||Photo sharing||Easier integration of visuals in my weblog posts; ability to keep in touch with other bloggers via photos instead of a weblog text (especially handy for not loosing contact when I don’t have time to read blogs and knowing about more private and “out-of-blogging” sides of bloggers|
|(Plazes), Dopplr||Location sharing???||Weblog posts announcing travel plans and current locations (=opportunities to connect in person) disappeared from my weblog
I know in advance about travel plans of those in my network, so there are more chances to meet
|(Jaiku), Twitter||Microblogging||I use Twitter to share what I’m doing or personal news that are not worth a weblog post and to find out what others are doing without the overload of reading their weblogs. Also for “small talk” with other blogger that would be “too much” even in Skype chat and for direct interactions (usually instead of email or Skype).|
|Friendfeed||Lifestreaming||My own traces are aggregated there, so others could follow them in one space. Although I don’t use it systematically myself, I go once in a while to get a richer picture of my network or a specific person|
I can imagine that for others the picture would be different, but I guess that for many of us two thing are true: weblog is only one of many tools to connect with other bloggers and with each new technology the exact niche of blogging becomes smaller and better defined.