December 29, 2008

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009 On the Social Web

By Eric Berlin of Online Media Cultist (FriendFeed/Twitter)

I spent the weekend recovering from holiday activities. I did manage to do some housework, watched The Sopranos Season Five (a key component of the holiday loot), and consumed a deluge of "end of year" blog posts from around the Interwebs.

I love this kind of thing, and it was fun to try to get a Big Picture take on what some of my favorite writers and thinkers are writing and thinking on the eve of the new year.

Plans for 2009
Many one-person blogger operations did an end-of-year assessment of how things went in 2008 and looked at changes and upgrades for the year ahead. It was a chance too for personal writing styles to shine, such as was the case with the curmudgeonly yet loveable Steven Hodson:
While not the most important (that one will come in a minute or two) I want to thank Duncan Riley at The Inquisitr for being willing to hire a cranky old fart. While much of the tech blogosphere is centered around the warm and fuzzy goodness of things like Web 2.0 and social media Duncan gives me the freedom; and the rapidly growing platform, to poke as many holes in that hot air balloon as I like. Thanks Duncan.
Rob Diana reported that he plans on "bringing the geek back," or focusing more on technologies and APIs that drive the social web, while also committing to shorter posts. Jason Kaneshiro of webomatica, a blogger who writes about tech and pop culture, discusses how he will look to balance posts out between tech (Apple, iPhone apps, digital video), movies, and television (more Mad Men reviews, yes!) in '09.

Louis Gray brought his own unique perspective on this kind of post, turning in 10 Things I Wish I Would Do Better On the Web Come 2009. These include commenting more on his own site as well as others, becoming more active on Twitter, and spreading the love (read = attention and coverage) to more sites in the coming year.

And I turned in my own State of the Blog report, in which I talk about my desire to "chase quality" and "follow passion."

Predictions were big, both reviewing how those made for 2008 panned out as well as prognosticating out on 2009. MG Siegler of ParisLemon graded himself highly on correctly predicting the rise of social network aggregation and that NBC would return to iTunes, but not so much on Digg getting acquired or Apple releasing "a new kind of mouse with multi-touch capabilities."

Meanwhile, Adam Ostrow of Mashable reports that his 2008 predictions both "rocked" and were "highly accurate," noting the growth in Hulu's popularity, Facebook's now mainstream status, and blogs becoming "hot acquisition targets" (Ars Technica, PaidContent). For 2009, Ostrow sees Google Chrome's market share increasing, a "big newspaper" going all digital, and Facebook and MySpace ramping up their own acquisition efforts:
As startup consolidation continues, look for the two biggest social networks to become aggressive acquirers. The reason? Both have ambitions as not only media companies (side bet: look for Facebook to buy or take a stake in a big music app), but as identity providers. One sure-fire way to gain market share as an identity provider is to buy up popular but profitless sites and make their own identity system the standard. This is exactly what Google and Yahoo have done with properties they’ve acquired through the years (see: Flickr,, Blogger, FeedBurner, etc.).
Steve Rubel predicts that The Web 2.0 Blogs Will Be Fine in 09, pointing out that "these sites [will] diversify their revenue streams beyond advertising and events. Research is a good area and one that probably leaves other, older companies exposed on price." (Do any sites refer to themselves as "web 2.0 blogs" these days though?)

And Duncan Riley at The Inquisitr believes that 2009 Will Be The Year of the Uber Blog, noting that large web publications such as ReadWriteWeb, Silicon Alley Insider, and Gawker Media are moving toward an "uber blog model":
The reasoning behind the move is remarkably simple: it’s easy to sell ads on one blog vs many blogs, for a couple of reasons. The biggest is simply traffic: having one big blog means increased traffic to the core blog making the sales pitch more appealing. Second, advertisers will often want to target the one blog and not buy the subsidiary blogs; maybe not always, but none the less common in my experience. If you have one big blog with various streams you’ve got better odds of getting high value advertising against all the content.
ReadWriteWeb, for its part, takes the temperature on 2009's social media outlook from a number of well known figures, such as Chris Brogran, Dave Kellog, and Om Malik. Interesting tip from Malik (pulled from GigaOM) is on financial web community Tip'd: "If it can get itself embedded into the financial blog ecosystem the way Digg has plugged in the tech world, Tip'd could become a daily destination."

Staying with RWW, Richard MacManus clued me into a fun slideshow from TrendsSpotting highlighting social media influencers predictions for 2009 (embed not working unfortunately but check it out here).

The great debates ahead
Whatever happens, we know there's going to be no shortage of things to talk about, hash over, debate, and bitchmeme about in the year ahead. One of the most interesting topics I came across that in some ways combines all of the above involves Robert Scoble's post, called Did I harm my blog by FriendFeeding this year? Not only did it open up a flood of discussion on FriendFeed and elsewhere, but in my view is intriguing because it touches on a bunch of themes that bloggers, microbloggers, and social media superfans will be thinking about for some time, including:
  • Social media balance – Which social media destinations will bring back the most value on time spent?
  • Influence – Is it better to be a big fish on FriendFeed, a "think piecing" blogger competing against the bigs, or something in between?
  • Monetization and ownership – Does it "pay" in all senses of the word to spend a great deal of time and passion on sites that you don't own?
  • Distributed conversations – How do you best harness ideas and conversations in this new distributed age?
Just some food for thought as we enter the final bend on 2008.

And happy new year everyone!

Read more by Eric Berlin at Online Media Cultist