Blogs vs. Social Networks: How Identity is Shaped
So much of writing is about the author shaping how he or she is to be perceived; it's about ethos, persona, and voice.
What's fascinating in this early Internet age are the increasing number of places and ways writers can write. All the print forms persist -- articles, papers, books, profiles, newsletters, and more. And added to these are new ways of being via writing: blogs, social networks, twitter, wikis, discussion boards, and e-mail. All these forms require words to be written, but where and how those words are read change how writers create a person and how readers perceive the ethos of the writer.
In a Gawker post called "Was Blogging Just a Fad?," Scott Rosenberg describes a key distinction between blogs and social networks:
A blog lets you define yourself, whereas on a social network you are more likely to be defined by others. Sure, blog readers can write comments — but the blogger can delete the comments, or disemvowel them, or turn them off entirely. Sure, a blog is dependent on the links you point outward and those that others point in; but it has its own independent existence in a way that no amount of messaging and chat and interaction on a social networking site can match. A blog is not necessarily better than a Facebook profile, nor is it worse; it is, simply, different.
All writing is part of a social network, of course. But Facebook and other online social networks accelerate the social. Researchers have found, for example, that what you say in your profile is not taken at face value by members of the network; how you are viewed is determined by the accumulation of your activities in the network. The wall posts you make, the status updates you write, the comments you make on the walls/updates of others; the images you share, and so on. Hundreds of discrete, relatively micro writing acts accumulate to create a pointillistic composition of your identity.
Whereas a blog, as relatively longer form done in a technological environment that the blogger can control more fully, is more about the writer as he or she attempts to define themselves in broader, often richer, strokes.
What's really interesting to see are writers who work across several e- and print media delivery methods. Do you know them more or less depending upon which technology you read them in?