The Knowledge-time Continuum

star trekWhen I kicked off this blog almost a year ago, I found it really easy to think of topics about which to write. I was new to social media and what I discovered, I wrote about, as I learnt, I explained how to. There was a sort of innocence in the approach and subject matter as if it was the first time anyone had noticed this stuff. That’s probably why it was so popular. Those even newer to the subject than me did not feel intimidated!

Don’t get me wrong. I went in to blogging the right way round, listening to the conversation before tapping out my posts. If that were not enough, my links alone showed that I was aware of what had been written before. But you could not keep me down. The sheer thrill of those early months made me so excited I just had to add my pennyworth to the blogosphere. The strange thing is that, however unoriginal my subject matter might have been, people found my blog and read it in increasing numbers.  

One year on

But that period has come to an end. Today I am in the midst of “blogger’s block”, a period when the ideas for new posts has deserted me. It is more unsettling than I imagined though very much more rationale. For the simple fact is that having learnt so much, I have stopped coming across facets of social media that are new to me. My source of posts, therefore, has dried up. New subject material is going to have to come from a much more original source within me. Or will it?

I spent over 20 years in traditional print journalism and a year in the blogosphere. You’ve heard it said many times that old media had a monopoly on content – if you did not like the local paper you read or B2B magazine, you did not really have much choice to go elsewhere. But what old media also had was a monopoly on the timeliness and longevity of that content – a story did not exist until the editor published it and the same story remained active only as long as the editor chose to do so. 

The blogosphere has changed all that.

Content no longer belongs to one medium. And the timeliness and longevity of content has now stretched to be as long as anyone person is interested in it. And people are interested in subjects at very different times from each other depending on their experience and exposure. So if you had only stumbled upon the blogosphere within the last year, you would find many of the posts in this blog essential reading. But if you had been blogging for anything more, you would probably find many of the posts in this blog somewhat familiar. “A list of Google Reader Shared Items,” you might say. “Are people only just discovering them?”Or “Six types of Tweets if you Twitter everyday. Mmmm, does Twitter really need such analysis?”

The Law of the Blogativity

Just like Space-time Continuum, the Law of Physics that describes time being relative to an object’s speed, so Knowledge-time Continuum is the Law of the Blogosphere which describes this phenomenon. In essence, it states that:

however many people are in front of you in knowledge or understanding of social media, there will be some, if not more, people behind you relative to your knowledge.  

And:

since the number of people within social media is only every going to grow, there will always be more people needing to read what you write.  

So for some, what you write will always be tiresomely unoriginal. But for others, those who are only starting to make a step into the future, you will always be dashingly and seductively interesting.

Indeed Knowledge-time Continuum is not just a law relating to blogs but one also for social media. Take this example. You start following really useful people on Twitter who introduce you to new ideas and teach you what to do. The faster you learn, the more followers you attract who are a week, a month a year behind you. And if the people you once followed on Twitter are not learning as fast as you and continue to Tweet out links to the ABC, then you find yourself looking for fresh Twitterers. 

How do I prove all this? Follow the analytics on your blog. My most popular posts (Five people to follow on Twitter in 2009Six types of Tweets if you Twitter everyday and A list of 10 social media habits that I am stopping immediately) become not just more visited but visited by more people more frequently as time goes by. It is not that the posts get any better or my arguments any more intelligent (far from it, I wince a little on rereading them!). But rather the longer life they have, the more Google shoves them up the search engines and more people find them. Indeed the more people discover just how much they don’t know about social media (and remember a lot more people than that don’t even know what they don’t know), the more people will end up on my blog.

Which type are you?

Indeed I would go so far as to posit three types of people within the blogosphere.

  • The latecomers (0-12 months). They’ve just discovered how much they don’t know. 
  • The late early adopters (1-3 yrs). They’re already hardened by a few knocks but they’ve stayed the game.
  • The early adopters (4-10 yrs). Way out front with great analysis of what’s happening to us all.

All three overlap- the linked in, connected blogosphere could do nothing else – but I would go further. All three are like cogs, one pushing the other on, and sometimes pulling it back. But none operating without the other.

Picture 3

Of course none of this helps my blogger’s block! But I have come up with a list of ideas for my next posts. They are not going to be about the actual kit of social media, as I have done in the past, but rather how you can measure and assess its success.

Photo credit: As you said

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About John Welsh

John Welsh has spent his entire working life in business-to-business media, first traditional publishing, having edited three magazines over 14 years, and, second, exhibitions since 2007. He started this blog on 22 June 2008 and ended it on 18 May 2010.
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