I went to the Weblogger Meetup in San Francisco last night, but only one other person showed up. I think that it just isn’t going to happen at all. During December lots of people showed cause the crew from Blogger.com were there. But besides the people that Jason Shellen invited, and the people that I invited, there wasn’t anyone new. This time around I sent out some emails and got not much response, but figured that there might be people there anyway. I was wrong. Not a big deal, communities shift over time. I guess there just aren’t many people into the technologies looking to meet.
The question does still remain about the Meetup site. It doesn’t encourage people to really communicate. It’s very difficult to talk, one member to another, to try to find out what is going on. I’m sure that Meetup likes this, cause long lists of people make it look like they’re very active. Even if less than ten percent of the listed participants actually show up. So I am somewhat curious if another form of organization would help out getting people together, or are people just not interested at all? I just ran across SFBayBloggers in poking around and looking to answer that question. Hard to tell from looking at that site how active it is. There do seem to be some recent entries in the discussion forums at least.
Another possibility is that now that blogging is passe for the technically elite, they’ve either lost interest or have started working somewhere that they do this as a job. Both normally lead to people being less interested in meeting up informally about the topic. I see the whole blogging issue as just starting out really. Sure, the geeky work of getting blogging tools up and going, and coming up with some new formats and categories of metadata is starting to mature. That is the relatively easy part though. Create some tools to make a website easy to update, big deal. Guestbooks for sites have existed almost since the first support for HTML forms in browsers, they’re pretty much the same thing. Bring up a form, write an entry, see it online. Easy.
The harder parts are trying to bring about the real changes that stem from this. Now that it is easy to update a website, and we do have ways to link sites together, aggregate content, and mark up individual entries; how do we actually use this system without it falling apart? And falling apart can mean anything from people losing interest, to spammers taking over commenting, to information overload making it impossible to find what you’re looking for. But as is the tradition in Silicon Valley, now that the technical problems are solved no one is interested. There is a new medium here, and there are new ways to use it. It does enable all the methods of communication that the geeks used to spout off about, but it doesn’t yet do so for the average user. It still takes a geek to be able to understand the medium well enough to work with it as envisioned. Maybe everyone thinks this is the cost of entry, and how to avoid information overloading the system. Me, I just think they’re not looking at the question at all. There are lots of unsolved problems around blogging, and a lot of them really have nothing to do with “blogging technology” at all. They have to deal with use of the data as information, use of multiple discreet points of information production being used by large bases of consumers, and basically defining a new form of media. This just isn’t interesting I guess. No wonder tech has remained in the ditches for so long. I would have hoped that the bubble bursting would have taught people that technology alone is not enough to sustain the industry. It takes connecting technology to real world problems, and then FULLY solving them. Not just pointing at a technology and saying “hey, you can use that to do what you want”. Unless it does exactly what users want it isn’t completed yet.