The difference between real time and blogs

There’s been a bit of talk lately in the technosphere about the role of blogs in the new real-time web. Louis Gray has a wonderful post on the subject that reflects my own opinion, “Blogging Is Still the Foundation In A World of Streams.”

The blog is the foundation and center for who you are – either as an individual, or a brand. While I believe the best bloggers in the world are participating outside of their blog, on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and everywhere else, to only participate in those areas leaves a gaping hole. The world of lifestreaming and real-time is fun, but it can be as deep as a soap opera in a world that still demands insightful documentaries and news reporting.

I think there’s another benefit to a blog: it’s a mandatory time out.

I’ve gotten into my share of online tussles over the years. Most are because I’ve hit the “reply” button in the heat of the moment. From where I’m sitting, the real time web is just a collection of knee-jerk reactions. Sometimes emotional. Tweets may be intelligent and interesting, but they’re rarely careful and measured. When started, the snowball is difficult to stop as folks are reacting to the initial spark long after your own anger has subsided. It usually goes along until all parties run out of steam or someone compares the current situation to the Holocaust, whichever comes first.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I work on a blog post it’s a process. I’m Googling for “evidence” to back up my position, or following links. I’m re-reading what I wrote, rewriting sentences as I build a case for my position on a subject. By the time I hit “publish” I’m usually feeling confident that my post accurately reflects my point of view with some amount of argument to back it up. Right or wrong, if I take someone on in my blog, I’ve at least considered the counter point first.

9 times out of 10 for hot-button subjects, I talk myself out of making the post as I’m trying to create it. I realize that the cutting remark isn’t worth posting after all. Salvation is a “delete” key away. For that reason whenever I feel myself reacting in the moment, I try and force myself to think of a blog post first…before I leave that comment. Even in those months that I wasn’t publishing much content here, I was still composing posts in my head as a way of getting my thoughts straight.

Not every blog post composed has to be published, but it’s rare that someone gives themselves the time and space to cool off when replying to a tweet or a FriendFeed thread. It’s too short, it’s too easy, it’s too quick. And that’s the reason why I think the so-called real-time web (Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc.) should never truly replace the old-school blog.

Blogging, by the very nature of its drudgery and delay, forces you to think of the greater impact. No matter how active I get on Twitter or Facebook, I need the very act of blogging to come back to and keep me sane…whether I hit “publish” or not.