This is one of those peripheral ideas that’s been kicking around in my head for years but I haven’t had much impetus to talk about it lately. But Mike Elgan pointed out Jay Acunzo‘s post about whether or not to move his blog to Google+, which got me thinking about it again.
I feel pretty strongly about maintaing a personal Web presence that I maintain complete control of–thus, this site. However, I do think (and have for a long time) that the platform is long overdue for an overhaul. WordPress is pretty archaic compared with modern social networks, and the amount of work required to make it operate well in a social world is pretty absurd. The newer platforms like Posterous and Tumblr try to integrate social functionality as a core, but they’re pretty weak compared to more full-featured networks like Facebook and especially Google+.
What I really want, and what I’ve wanted for a long time, is a more decentralized approach to social networking. I want a fully-customizable front end for my presence on one or more social networks that I control and own, and can host on my own domain, and can take with me if I decide to move to a new network. Right now I can only do that by running my own WordPress instance, but I still think the day is coming when my blog will just be a front-end on my social network presence. For example, I’m going to cross-post this post on Google+, but that doesn’t make much sense. That means two sets of comment threads, for example, one here on my site and one on Google+. Facebook addresses this somewhat with their comment functionality, but #1 I hate Facebook and try to use it as little as possible and #2 it’s still just a bolt-on.
Ideally, I believe that blogs moving forward will be a personally owned and controlled front end focusing on a individual’s social networking activity. After all, blogs really were “Social Networking 1.0″ – a way to post your ideas, link to others’ ideas, and comment back and forth. And what’s unfortunate is that it used to be quite a vibrant community of writers and thinkers before Facebook and Google+ poached them all. But with a flexible enough social network–and Google+ appears to be heading in that direction–I think that trend can be reversed. It’s the reason I’m very interested in the Tent project, and why I was excited about Google Wave back in the day (boy was I wrong on that!)
I’m hoping that once Google finally releases a full Google+ API that somebody picks this up and runs with it, until then I guess I’ll keep blogging here and cross-posting to the social networks I’m active on, such as my Google+ profile and my Twitter profile.