Irregular Times started out on the web a long time ago, back when there was a concern about whether using images would slow down access too much. We weren’t blogging. We were writing. We were a rat’s nest, and it was a very comfortable place to be.
With the 2004 election, we started experimenting with blogging technology, and found that it opened up some new possibilities in what we could do, and in what our readers could do in return, writing back to challenge us and be challenged in return by other readers. I’ve become comfortable in writing through a blog format, though I still enjoy a basic html approach.
Yet, the world of processed writing has expanded… and gotten smaller. Networks like Twitter and Facebook encourage users to blurt out tiny bits of text and to link in to more extended ideas expressed by others, rather than created by themselves. Personally, I’m finding these forms to be of limited use. The majority of users who create accounts on these networks have abandoned those accounts within one month of signing up.
Still, I wonder – could there be something I’m missing, a utility that I just haven’t grasped yet? Should I reconsider this social networking approach? Might I get something out of tagging things in the world as friend or fan?
Last week, a group of programmers announced the creation of BuddyPress, a tool that could enable us to integrate features of the sort familiar to Facebook users right here on Irregular Times. That way, Irregular Times readers could build profiles, assemble in networks with each other, begin to publish their own materials in longer form than our comments form now allows, send private messages, and so on.
These extra features certainly would expand Irregular Times, but the question in my mind is whether that expansion would be relevant to the experience of the site. Would people actually use these features, given that other social networking sites are already available?
My instinct is to say no, to conclude that it would be a mistake to try to adopt Facebook features, just because Facebook has been successful with them. My inclination is to let social networking sites be social networking sites, and allow Irregular Times to remain… something else.
Am I missing the boat by not working to plug in to BuddyPress?