Thought leaders like Steve Rubel and Erick Schonfeld perceive a major shift in web publishing. They see digital content moving from an architecture of pages towards information that is distributed in real-time streams.
According to this argument, the traditional web is based on the way we use books, magazines, journals and other static media. The hierarchy of information is structured and editorialised, whether this is done by dedicated content editors (BBC News) or the site’s users (Digg).
In contrast, the ‘stream’ presents content in a dynamic and fluid way, driven by immediacy and organised by ‘now-ness’. Examples of platforms that publish as a content stream include Twitter, Facebook, Posterous and Friendfeed.
Our way of consuming this content is different too. It’s impossible to ‘catch up’ with a stream of content, as anyone who follows more than 1oo people on Facebook or Twitter will know. Instead you dip in and out of the stream, and if you miss something, it’s gone.
This is because, as Steve himself admits, publishing via blog or lifestream requires a corresponding switch between reflection and immediacy. I believe that good communicators need to be capable of both.
This is one of the reasons why I work hard to balance time spent on Twitter and Facebook with more traditional long-form content, including books, essays and full-length articles. Indeed my channel for this activity is not Twitter or Friendfeed, but a blog: The Culture Club.
To summarise, I’m a big believer in content streams, but I don’t see blogs and other forms of ‘reflective’ content dying out. To be a good communicator you need to embrace both.