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This Week on teh Interwebs

LeWeb and the Lay Blogger

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This is an English version written for LeWeb ’09 and for which a French version exists at the Lausanne Bondy Blog. I am reproducing it here for safekeeping as an author under the Berne Convention
for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
. For reposts of the English version only, you are kindly asked to also seek the permission of the LeWeb editorial team and credit that site accordingly as well as further credit the LBB. For trackbacks and links for citation of the English version only, always use this link. In doubt, original credit should still always point to the Lausanne Bondy Blog.

I am one of the least-specialized of the “official bloggers”. For the Lausanne Bondy Blog, I’ve written about makeup, minarets, and domestic violence. I don’t talk tech. So why LeWeb? What is a general public blogger doing at “the” European tech conference? The answer is simple: the real-time web is now. As a citizen journalist and a blogger, moving forward means being where the news is- be it for a recent vote in Switzerland, or for the recent changes in technology which may affect blogging. So here I am. I came to LeWeb to learn about what this conference means for the end-user, for those of us who need to manipulate and use new technologies, but don’t necessarily need to know all that goes into it.
Back in the early days of the internet, I remember using BBS as a teenager, I remember the Coffee Cam, I remember doing my first web search in 1997…far from being a tekkie, I always wanted to be on top of, and use, the technology of the time. I am the typical end-user. 2010 is no different- I want to know everything about Twitter, Facebook, Pearltrees, and use these tools to better inform myself and be a better blogger. I came away from LeWeb with a few general thoughts confirming my own personal truths about social media and the real-time web in general, and more specifically its role in blogs and blogging.

When blogs first started a few years ago, they were about information. While comments always existed, they were one-sided affairs. But now, blogging is more and more interactive. People tweet posts, they facebook posts and put them on FriendFeed. What used to be a static URL is now transmitted in various iterations by dozens if not hundreds (or thousands of people. Social Media applications and the real-time web have changed the way blogs interact with their readers. But unlike blogs, Twitter and Facebook and the like are ephemeral. A blog page remains searchable months and years after it is published, whereas a Tweet or a status update gets lost in a matter of hours. Twitter being down – or off and on for most of the first hour of Day 1- is proof that blogging is not dead (echoed by @stephtara on many occasion). However, can one simply “blog” in 2010? Because social networks and the real-time web involve a fundamental shift in community and identity which blogs now need to take into account.

Community: I write for Lausanne, about Lausanne, but we have readers all around the world. Our community of readers is not defined by Lausanne’s geography. Maybe for a love of Lausanne, but our presence is worldwide. Social media will only increase this phenomenon. Each of our readers has their own community. So each time I post a link in my facebook feed, my high school friends in Louisiana, my college friends in Canada and in France, who would have never read the LBB otherwise, check out what we have to say. And the phenomenon repeats itself for each of our bloggers and each of our readers, exponentially. Likewise, this worldwide community picks up Lausanne news which previously would have stayed local. For example, a shop in Lausanne just mounted a minaret on its roof, and it was considered newsworthy enough to be picked up by the French site rue89.com, who was likely alerted to this minaret by one of its readers in Lausanne. Social media allows you to interact with static web pages and blogs in a way that was not possible in the early 2000s and gives local news a global reach.

Identity: Social media blurs the lines between our offline and online identities. As Her Majesty Queen Rania said in her keynote, the web is more human than ever before, and personal. But even more so, our thoughts and actions are increasingly online and under our real identites. Ten and fifteen years ago, internet users tried to protect their identities- now we use Facebook and Linkedin under our real names. And this is how we interact with our “communities”, which are no longer tied to where we live, but are instead the ensemble of our experiences- college friends, people met on trains or in meetings, and all this under our real names. The real-time web is no longer an AOL chatroom in 1998. It’s a place where we aren’t afraid to blur public and private personae.

So what does this mean for the Lausanne Bondy Blog in 2010? It’s not my decision to make. Beyond what our community asks of us, I’m just one blogger in the fabulous, heterogeneous, young and multicultural team in Lausanne who will continue to transmit and create the news our community, be it in Lausanne or online, needs.

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Author: Nicole Cunningham

American Expat and convert to Islam living and working between Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland.

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