Leading tech and marketing analyst Jeremiah Owyang wrote a blog post today that has inspired some interesting conversation; he argues that with the recent departure of a number of the key big names in tech blogging from their posts, the Golden Age of Tech Blogging has passed and it’s a new era. He cites my leaving RWW among others, though I haven’t entirely left. (I’m just focused on building killer research mega-tool PlexusEngine.)
Many people believe that no such change is happening, either. There’s a continuum of constant change, but tech blogging has never really been about just TechCrunch, Mushable and ReadWriteWeb. There are many other important tech blogs, always have been and always will be. ReadWriteWeb 2.0 is going to rock, too, by the way.
Either way, things are certainly changing. There are opportunities for new blogs and bloggers to rise into leadership positions. I thought I’d take a few minutes and offer three bits of advice about things I think could help make the new era of tech blogging even better than the last one. I just think these things would be nice.
It’s sad that so few tech blog posts add the kind of value that can be added by including links to high quality off-site resources. It’s ok to send readers away, they’ll appreciate the pointers and they’ll come back. Some of the biggest sites on the web just aggregate links to other sites – why not combine that form of value with original content on blogs? Not only are the links valuable for readers, the research required to assemble those links is a big value add as well. Compiling research and links to other sites is a fine art. I know everybody wants to see more of this. Who on earth would believe that a single blog post’s author knows everything a reader wants to know about a topic?
This isn’t just a matter of principle, either. Outbound links can be good for search engine traction, though that’s not 100% clear and it’s not clear how much weight they carry relative to inbound links. As Google’s Maile Ohye said several years ago, “Thoughtful outbound links also help your credibility because it shows that you’ve done your research and have expertise in the subject manner. You visitors may therefore want to come back for more analysis on future topics.”
Research, Including on Company Founders
One of the things I learned from Michael Arrington when at TechCrunch is that it’s always important to look at the backgrounds of founders of companies you’re writing about. Almost no one does that anymore though, I too often forget myself, but it’s so often a missing part of the whole story!
As VC Roger Ehrenberg once wrote, “There can be tremendous inefficiencies as founders ascend the learning curve, especially in areas that are not necessarily related to or interesting given the founders’ backgrounds.” Conversely, a founder’s background experience indicates the ways in which they are most likely to be particularly efficient.
The time and pageview pressure these days leads to short blog posts based on little more than the first impression of the blogger was left with after looking at a website themselves. It’s like the what, the why and the when of a news story gets adressed but the who gets too little attention.
One of the things I have learned from Richard MacManus at ReadWriteWeb is that news is always more interesting when you adress the long-term platform implications of anything. When might a certain app, trend or news development make possible in the future? That’s one of the most exciting parts of the story.
A contrary perspective is that, as investor Rob Go has written, the word Platform could be “the most meaningless and overused phrase that entrepreneurs and investors try to use to make companies seem more important than they are.” Maybe, but from a journalistic and analytical perspective, thinking about companies as parts of trends, which will hopefully lead to future opportunities, seems like something that can never be a bad idea.
Maybe all of this is just a way to say “I think tech blogging should be more like the way I like to do tech blogging. But these three ideas sure would help make the next era of tech blogging even better, I think. Maybe no more listicles, too. (Blog posts with numbered lists! Ha!)
For what it’s worth, I should mention that all the outbound links in this post were added lickety-split with the help of Plexus Engine. Sign up now for beta notification – it’s coming along really well!