This morning I got yet again a spam inviting me for a ‘link exchange’ between one of my weblogs and in this case a music site I have never heard off and without any relation to my writings. Where have those people been living in the past decade, I wonder. They have become for me a symbol of a past era.
We often look at the traditional media, the tree-killers and other dinosaurs, as the people who are hopelessly left behind in this fast-changing world of Twitter, Facebook and other online conversations. But the problem is broader, a lot of people just made the switch into the online world, but have no clue how fast that world has changed since they started to work online, only ten, fifteen years ago. I call them the blogroll generation.
They still see the portal as the holy grail of online communication, use a CMS that was revolutionary fifteen years ago, refuse to go mobile and as the ultimate extreme, they try to increase online traffic by maintaining a blogroll.
Those people are often not targeted, and of more stubborn, in the debate on online innovation. You still have the odd people who can barely answer an email, journalists who do not want comments on their articles or otherwise try to ignore the audience they say to serve from their ivory tower. But they know they are a dying kind, they know they are hopelessly outdated and will disappear when their children beat them again in a virtual life.
But what about those people who made the switch to an online life a decade or longer ago and think that was it, in terms of online innovation. They stick to their now outdated online guns.
There are some ways to recognize these new dinosaurs. They use Twitter at best as an alternative blogroll and wonder why nobody is retweeting them. And they are still struggling with the question whether they should include their competitors in a blogroll.
For those who might not know what a blogroll is, a short history. When search engines started in the last century, they were initially lists of online resources, a list of links. The more links you had, the better you were as a digital service. Weblogs and websites started to do that too, offering a useful service to their visitors, often focused on specific subjects. Search engines started to become more sophisticated and one criteria for the second-generation search engine was the number of links you would have from your weblog. We called that static list of links a blogroll. The first generation on SEO’s (search engine optimization) focused on that feature.
The first digital generation grew up with a blogroll and I never have counted the hours I have spent in those years fine-tuning this at the time useful online tool. But it was still a left-over of the old media thinking, where you hoped more and more people would visit your platform.
With the diminishing value of platforms, both digital and non-digital, now the online debate has splattered into all directions. The concept of a portal has changed, although the blogroll generation often finds is hard to accept. Those links should now enrich you blog entries, since few visitors will visit your digital dwelling through the front door or home page. But just like other changes, you can always think that in the past things were better. But there is no way you can stop change and innovation.
From today I will call them the ‘blogroll generation’. I’m trained as a historian and a journalist and I know that giving catchy names to past eras makes it easier to discuss them.
- Blogroll (professorbainbridge.com)
- New Blogs for the Blogroll! (shanshantastic.wordpress.com)
- Finally Started a Blogroll! (makingbabygrand.com)
- Working on Links and the Blogroll (doingthewritething.wordpress.com)
- Additions to my Blogroll & RSS Widgets (kestalusrealm.wordpress.com)
- 17 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Blogrolls and Link Love (blogworld.com)