In Praise Of Blogs, Forums, And The Good Old Fashioned Social Internet 2.0

Recent world events driven by the pandemic have seen some organisations and individuals have to accelerate their online experience exponentially, to rapidly find new ways of communicating, learning and adapting.

Talk of the Web 3.0, smart devices and the Internet Of Things has been around for a while of course. It’s just got closer, quicker.

For me though, whilst I’m all for concepts like remote working and meetings for work, when it comes to personal use, I’m still firmly entrenched in the good old fashioned social internet of Web 2.0.

The new wave led by Facebook, Twitter, and later Instagram, have no appeal to me, mostly because their whole ethos is around publishing what’s popular right now, for maximum impact and engagement, at the expense of all else.

Yesterday’s updates – even hour old updates – are all but forgotten as new content hurtles through the stream.

It makes me appreciate all the more some of the original social platforms of the internet, which today might seem slow and old-hat to some, but that’s precisely their purpose and appeal.

Blogs, discussion forums, and Flickr– which kind of includes both of these plus more – provide us with quieter, more thoughtful and intelligent places to gather and converse at our own pace, or just to read and learn more about other people’s experiences of the subjects we love.

Even YouTube, which has more than its fair share of trash and toxic content, is still awash with interesting camera and lens reviews, from real people like you and me.

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Also with these older platforms, we tend to find on the whole that people are in them for straightforward and genuine reasons.

Simply because they’re into a certain subject, and enjoy sharing it and talking about it with others who enjoy the same.

They’re not to try to game the system, follow, comment or “like” just to try to garner the same in return and falsely bolster their apparent “popularity” or influence.

They’re not trying to make money from the completely arbitrary ads plastered over their pages – or allowing themselves to be a commodity, with their tastes and preferences gradually gathered and sold on to the highest bidder.

As I continue to explore older cameras (not even film cameras, but early digitals up to around 2012/3, what I call the golden age), I find tiny pockets of useful information, pictures and discussions – some archived from years back, but some new – written by people like us who are still enjoying older gear away from the breakneck speed and deep pocketed upgrade parade.

I think there will always be a place for these sites, because as people we will always be curious, drawn to exploring and collecting, and seeking others who do the same.

I’ve been blogging in some form since 2004, and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be.

Photography has been a fundamental part of my life for around 15 years now, so I can’t see it disappearing or even waning.

So all the time I’m photographing and exploring different ways of doing that, I feel I’ll want to be sharing it, and talking to others who are on similar adventures.

And blogs, forums and Flickr are the ideal platforms for these kind of conversations.

How about you? How much do you still use the old school Web 2.0 like blogs and forums, and what do you enjoy most about them? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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18 thoughts on “In Praise Of Blogs, Forums, And The Good Old Fashioned Social Internet 2.0”

  1. You are right about social media, I only do Facebook and sometimes Instagram, the first seems to be more and more full of anger, and the latter is the home of posers. The same people who get right in front of everyone at a scenic spot to get their selfie, while we wait patiently to get a nice picture of the scenery. The few blogs I follow tend to be much kinder, and relate mostly to the things that interest me.

    1. Steve, I wonder if because much social media is so short and quick that people give less consideration to what they’re posting, whereas with a blog post they’re generally much longer and would be reviewed/edited more closely before publishing. I think with the short posts it gives people less connection and responsibility, a few words and hit reply and it’s done and forgotten. Whereas if you said a similar thing in person face to face, well, you probably wouldn’t say it without a computer screen (and perhaps a false name/ID) to hide behind.

      I remember a funny video came out years ago when Facebook was first going more international and beyond its college roots. The essence of the video was what if Facebook was replayed in real life, and the guys in the video were running about literally writing (spray painting) on people’s walls, poking them in the ribs etc (can you still “poke” someone on Facebook, I never understood what it meant!). It did a good job of showing it was all a bit ridiculous back then, before it became as huge and morally dubious and sinister as it is these days…

  2. I started participating in online conversations with Usenet in the early 80’s. I am still in contact with online friends I made around the world. When a colleague at Bell Labs showed me the Mosaic web browser in the mid 90’s he said “this will kill Usenet” and he was right. Usenet is still there but my friends have departed and my ISP stopped supporting the NNTP protocol.

    The graphics of the World Wide Web are nice. I enjoy forums and blogs and particularly enjoy exchanging pictures with family and friends, But for serious conversations I prefer email, which is the closest thing to the old ascii based Usenet.

    As for the so-called “social” media, the few times I have toyed with Facebook I found it a confusing mess. And I don’t get the point at all of Twitter, Instagram, etc. The whole online communication thing seems to be in a downward spiral.

    1. Doug, I think I would have liked Usenet!

      Email is essentially like writing a letter, but electronically, and is generally free from any trends or quirks of a particular system. You don’t have to know anything about retweets or @, or Likes oe emoticons etc, it’s pure and simple words (plus attachments of course).

      I use PentaxForums a fair bit, and since discovering it maybe five years ago have always thought the interface was terribly dated and about 15 years overdue an upgrade. But for basic communicating and sharing of images, it works.

  3. I write a weekly blog and enjoy the process of writing. I also like to see the reading evolve over time, as an article gains traction and is cited more. Some things written a few years ago were barely cited then, but now get accessed hundreds of times a day. I’m fortunate in writing about a subject that is less technology-focused than photography. We still use broadly the same methods – and in some cases equipment – that worked 50-100 years ago.

    Posts are announced by Twitter and on Facebook, but I barely use Twitter for anything else and my Facebook account has a “I will not respond because I don’t read Facebook” announcement on it. Inevitably, some still post Q’s there 😦 This year only about 1% of traffic comes from Twitter and Facebook … usually on the day of posting. After that it’s search engines … and particularly if search engines index a discussion forum. These are great (I moderate one) as they have a community spirit and can be a fantastic source of information and support. However, month upon month forum activity is dwindling as more and more switch to the Zuckerberg’s “Death Star” and a “quick fix” … or a cat picture I suppose.

    Cheers
    David

    1. David, thanks for your thoughts and experience. I’m curious why you bother with Facebook and Twitter when it only brings you 1% of traffic?

      1. I just have WordPress automagically post to them both when I post (presumably via Jetpack). There’s no ‘bother’ involved. I also got my numbers wrong earlier … I was looking at referrals vs. total traffic, actually it should be referrals (from FB or Twitter) as a proportion of total referrals. It’s more like 5%. Most visitors come from search engines (~95% of which is Google), then WordPress Android, Facebook, Twitter and finally Pinterest. After that it’s just a long list of noise. Interestingly, and related to your post, very little traffic comes from discussion forums (fora?) which appear to be getting less and less active. WordPress Reader, which might be where I found your site, is also well down the list of referrers. Whatever that means … 😉

      2. If you’re using WordPress.com or JetPack with a self hosted WordPress (I am), your post get send to Reader. Reader is an RSS aggregator and everyone in the platform can see your posts. I think it’s a better referrer than twitter or Facebook.

      3. Yeh I use Jetpack, and until recently used WP Reader to follow a number of other blogs, before I switched to Feedly to try to consolidate all my reading in one place. Reader does a good job for WP blogs, I agree.

      4. Yes I’ve thought about setting that up before, my 35hunter posts being shared automatically to Twitter and Facebook to reach a new audience, but 1. I just didn’t really want to get involved in either of those sites again, and 2. I feel if I was going to be a part of them, I’d want to contribute and interact and be an active “citizen”, not just automatically dump more content into those already vastly overcrowded stream(s)!

  4. I used to love Flickr, but it appears to be a dead zone now. The only one we use is YouTube, I agree there is very interesting content there. Oddly, the only channels we seem to watch are from the EU. I can’t think of a single US thing that we watch. And my blogs are down to about three, mostly due to attrition. Most of the ones I kept up with have stopped publishing, or post very seldom.

    1. There is life in Flickr, but nothing like it was. Our TV habits as a family have changed quite significantly in the last year. It’s very rare we watch anything live, and probably 80% of what we all watch is on Disney+ or Netflix. And we watch a fair amount between us on YouTube, from exercise videos, nature stuff, science experiments, virtual tours of rollercoasters, nursery rhymes etc and camera reviews. Quite a range. The five terrestrial channels barely get a look in!

  5. I’m still very much enjoy the “old school” web. I still read blogs like this one written by people with a personal perspective. I have over 500 blogs in my Reeder app. In a sense, blogs are a strange mix of personal journal and long-distance letter. I get to travel the world, learn new skills, try out a new product.

    I, too was caught up with modern social media, wasting time on Facebook and Twitter. Now I rarely check Facebook and Twitter. Flickr lost relevance for me a while back. YouTube is just a place to watch “how-to” videos. I avoid forums. They seem to attract the types of photographers who define “real photography” as whatever it is they are doing and dream whatever they are not.

    I’ve been blogging for almost 18 years and photographing for about 30 years. My blog is mine. I control what content is posted. I don’t see that changing.

    1. That’s a good point about having control of your blog. How it looks and also who you invite in. With social media it’s always someone else’s outpost, their layout, logo, rules etc. It’s never your own, and all your “content” is just promoting them and making money for them, more than it’s for you.

      Yeh some forums are just guys obsessing over the fine details of cameras and lenses, all charts and photos of newspapers taped to brick walls and photograph at perfect right angles… It’s not photography. Plus it can get very snobbish and dismissive of anyone who doesn’t have the “right” gear.

  6. I read Twitter a lot (there are a lot of entertaining one liner merchants and links to stuff I am actually interested in–just remember to turn on ‘Latest Posts’ to stop their algorithm deciding on what you ‘might like’) but don’t use it for posting very much, other than by the auto-tweeting of a new blog item by WordPress.

    Fairly convinced that Flikr is fossilised. I did pay for a pro account on it once but let if run out, it just seems frozen in internet time and not a very current one at that. I’ve no doubt that there are the loyal members for years who hate to see it change, but blimey, will somebody at least polish and dust in there…?

    Never understood Instagram, deleted Facebook about three years ago, killed my alter-ego ‘quirky’ blogging persona on a humour blog, so mostly withdrawn into a shell of (very) occasional photo blog posting these days.

    I think I’ve just diagnosed myself as an extremely introverted misanthrope.

    1. Bear, thanks for your thoughts. I’ve never really found the funny people on Twitter, but the format is set up well for that. When I first used it (I don’t know, maybe 2013/14?) it was mostly for haiku, six word stories, and other concise literary forms. It worked brilliantly for that, with simple hashtags to group people and themes together. Then they had video, and extended the size of tweets, and generally mess up what made it great in the first place.

      Flickr still works for me, especially as a way to gather and organise my images. It’s way quieter these days, agreed, but I still have some worthwhile conversations there and follow some interesting photographers. Plus I still it’s visually well optimised for photographers, especially compared with some sites, ahem, Instagram.

      I relate a fair bit, as you know. The lockdown has meant less traffic on the roads, fewer people around, virtually no planes in the sky. All good for someone who likes his own company most of the time!

  7. I am basically with you, Dan… I’m on facebook only so I can contact friends/family in Brazil if I have to – and that’s for people who are not on my WhatsApp list. They know I’m hardly ever on and won’t respond for a while if they contact me on facebook…
    I cancelled twitter a long time ago and I’m not on instagram.
    On social media, on top of this whole thing they do about only wanting to show what’s popular, I hate the herd mentality and “cancel culture” where if you don’t write or even are perceived to think in a way that is deemed acceptable by those who want to be your new overlords, they’ll try to ban you and cancel you out of existence… well they can’t do that if I don’t exist as far as they are concerned.

    1. Thanks Chris. I read an excellent post this morning about a photographer leaving Instagram, and how rubbish he feels it is for photographers. It’s all about constantly getting you to feed it new content so they keep raking in money from ads.

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