Happy New Year! 2017 was a busy and eventful year – both professionally and personally. In many ways, 2017 was the most challenging and best year to date. I'm excited about 2018 and optimistic about what it has in store.

I wanted to thank you all for reading my blog in 2017. Entering 2018, I plan on setting a New Years' resolution of using social media less, and blogging more.

I've been blogging for over 12 years and have been using social media for about 10. Both are black holes for content, however, I feel that blog content at least has a chance to "survive". My blog posts have made a bigger impact than my social media posts. It's not just me. I've seen many bloggers get sucked into social media. Many of them stopped blogging altogether, and they've lost their impact.

Blogging also helps me clarify my thoughts and deepen my thinking. The consistent practice of blogging has helped me grow. Social media doesn't encourage the same kind of deep thinking or thoughtfulness, and as a result, hasn't provided me the same personal growth.

This too, seems to be a universal phenomena. President Donald Trump has infamously relied on Twitter to communicate everything from policy decisions to mockery of opponents. He went so far to call the nuclear-armed Kim Jong Un short and fat on Twitter. This level of recklessness would be harder to accomplish in a long-form blog post on Whitehouse.gov.

Last but not least, the large, centralized social media companies don't sit well with me anymore. It's undeniable that these companies have provided a forum for people to connect and share information, and in many ways they've had a huge impact on human rights and civil liberties. However convenient or impactful they may be, their scale, influence and lack of transparency is of growing concern. In the summer of 2015, I predicted that their data privacy issues and lack of transparency were going to come to a head in the next five to ten years. It didn't take that long – Facebook's unsavory involvement in shaping public opinion started to turn the tide against them in 2017.

We can't have a handful of large platform companies control what people read. When too few organizations control the media and flow of information, we must be concerned. If we allow that to happen, we risk losing what has made the web the most important network in history – a decentralized platform that enables anyone to have a voice.

The web we build today will be the foundation for generations to come and it needs to remain decentralized. It's true that a decentralized web is harder to build and more difficult to use. Frankly, it will be difficult for the open web to win without better data portability, more regulatory oversight, better integrations, and more innovation and collaboration.

At the end of the day, I want to be part of the change that I wish to see in the world. To support this vision, I want to build my audience here, on my blog, on the edge of the internet, rather than on centralized platforms that are outside of my control. So going into 2018, expect me to blog more, and use social media less.

Comments

Dries:

I actually think it would be fun to add some kind of "Like"-button to my blog posts.

Ryan Szrama (not verified):

Solid post and rationale. I've been feeling the same for some time, as my blogging essentially stopped as I put more thought into multiple-paragraph Facebook posts and short form link commentary on Twitter. It's easy and fun to use those platforms, but I've added little of value to the web ... there's great value in the (semi-)permanent linking of ideas, events, instructions, etc. via hyperlinks from site-to-site that I've all but ceased to create.

Here's hoping I can join you in your quest both for my own sake and for the sake of the web.

Jorge Melo (not verified):

Awesome post Dries.

Probably descentralization is a word we all are going to read and listen a lot more in 2018.

Happy new year my friend.

Charles Edward… (not verified):

Great insight about social media. Happy 2009 Dries !

Jen Lampton (not verified):

I share your concern for a decentralized web, but these days I find myself worrying less about large platform companies having all the content, and more about the "access of evil" preventing anyone from reading anything else.

I hope you have a post on net neutrality planned, as I'd love to read your thoughts about where the US may be headed, and if or how internet businesses here would suffer.

Dries:

If you're worried about a handful of "digital distributors" being the primary way for people to discover news, and the extraordinary amount of control it gives them, please have a look at https://dri.es/digital-distributors-the-supermarkets-of-the-web and https://dri.es/digital-distributors-vs-open-web-who-will-win. These blog posts are a few years old, but I believe they are still relevant, and they speak to the concerns expressed in your comment.

I've written a few posts about Net Neutrality (see https://dri.es/tag/net-neutrality) but a longer, more in-depth post is probably in order.

Kevin Kaland (not verified):

Interesting decision, Dries. I may also experiment with distilling my technical learning into my blog (which is very out-of-date) and save Twitter for fun and questions.

Are you on Mastodon? :)

DB Hurley (not verified):

I love this post. I've also found myself disenchanted with all the social media channels not only for their content (or lack thereof) but also with the consolidated social corporations behind the platforms. I couldn't agree more with what you shared and look forward to more of your blog posts. And thank you for the encouragement to do the same!

Liza Kindred (not verified):

Ahhhh yes!

Thanks for putting this so succinctly. I've also started moving back into blogging, and away from social. I do love connecting with people, learning, and sharing thoughts... but that doesn't really seem to be what FB or Twitter are for these days, anyways. My goal for 2018 is to create as much content as possible, and I certainly want to be able to capture and own it.

Also –– I really enjoyed people's responses when I posed the question about what might be next: https://twitter.com/LizaK/status/936631841943146496 (I know it's ironic that I asked this on Twitter... ;)

Always enjoy your blog posts, Dries! Looking forward to reading more.

~Liza

A.I. Sajib (not verified):

I agree with you. Back in around 2006, here in Bangladesh, there was a trend of blogging communities and that gave birth (and in some cases, recognition) to a lot of bloggers who wrote eye-opening content. However, with Facebook's popularity still rising, and most people refusing to go anywhere but Facebook and YouTube, the blogging trend has died. I see so many brilliant topics on current affairs that are written in Facebook status -- not even Facebook Notes, but merely status -- that are sure to get lost in the stream months after they are published that it almost makes me sad.

I agree with the term "black hole" and will associate it with social media, particularly Facebook. Blog articles survive. They come up in searches, news articles, links from one post to another and so on. I've never found something on Facebook that wasn't shared by someone I follow. So it means if I wrote something, five months from now, for someone to find that post, someone else on their list has to share it on their timeline. What are the chances of that happening as opposed to that person finding my content through search and other means?

Bryan Ruby (not verified):

I wasn't going to comment because I wasn't too sure I was going to be able to add anything but "me too". What I've found is that I hit this four year cycle where I find the value of blogging ( http://bryanruby.com/blogging-still-matters-1945 ), get burned out, and then after a few months of not writing I rediscover the joy of blogging again.

Dries, I'd be curious what you think of Medium or WordPress.com where blogging are their focus yet they are centralized? Is centralized blogging better than centralized social media? Is there such a thing as decentralized social media vs centralized social media?

Overall though, for all the reasons you list in this post, I'm increasingly finding less value in social media and have started to return to long-form content. I think there is an entire new digital generation out there that was brought up on social media and videos ... just waiting for a this "new" medium of personal blogging to come along.

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