The deep rainforest jungle of the web
With the hyper-social nature of (we)blogging, a truly unique social age has arrived, where all members of the community can participate in creating, changing, and recording history. Instead of obscure events long past, history has become yesterday’s blog social posts. We capture history in social media as we live it, and like a rainforest, our culture is thick with life.
When you think of a rainforest, abundant life and variety defines it. The tallest trees provide a canopy for other plants and organisms, the tree tops even buzzing with life. In the social ecosystem, (we)blogs are the gigantic trees of content that support the world below them, growing taller and larger because of the rich fresh content they provide. Bloggers also make up the thick lower levels of the forest.
This connection came to me as I reflected on a journey I traveled. I was 20 when I spent a year working in the Dominican Republic. You know, the country that shares a border with Haiti. On that tiny island, the ecosystems are diverse, desert to rainforest.
I remember well the first time I entered the jungle. It was disorienting at first, with the trees, mosses, plants, and creatures. There seemed to be no system, but random and unimportant plant life. The quantity of life overwhelmed me, but I noticed a beauty in the chaos. I felt the words of Anton Chekhov:
A tree is beautiful, but what’s more, it has a right to life; like water, the sun and the stars, it is essential. Life on earth is inconceivable without trees. Forests create climate, climate influences peoples’ character, and so on and so forth. There can be neither civilization nor happiness if forests crash down under the axe, if the climate is harsh and severe, if people are also harsh and severe. ... What a terrible future!
I love the way that Chekhov captures the connection between the forest and civilization. As I took in the jungle, I realized that there was a complex system, but a chaotic one that appeared random. Different tiers and levels coexisted, each depending on the other for continued survival.
I looked down at moss so deep and green that it appeared unreal, a Photoshop trick, with tiny dark green fibers closely knit, and then stood up to see a giant avocado tree, huge, making me feel as small as the moss. Water flowed and pooled randomly, getting my feet wet as I walked into a giant spider web.
The social web reminds me of this dense forest and its complexity includes not only businesses, but millions of bloggers writers, some big, some small. But the key is that at every level, bloggers depend on one another for their existence.
Types of bloggers
Recent trends have created true giants in blogging like The Huffington Post, Mashable, and The Guardian, which act as a conglomerate of bloggers who provide more variety and quantity of content. Other important blogs are major corporations, especially publishers like Forbes, Psychology Today, and the New York Times, who have major compilations of bloggers that produce excellent content. The blogs are less intimate, but they are huge, diverse, and create excellent content in many subjects.
You might think that these giants would crush independent bloggers with their power and influence. But, like the trees in the rainforest, the conglomerates create an aerial terrain where influential and powerful bloggers like Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, and Seth Godin. Just under the tallest trees (or perhaps over), these writers are on the cutting edge of content, innovating and evolving the web.
These unique, and most times, independent bloggers enjoy the freedom they have to be themselves on the web, making changes that have lasting power. They are intent on empowering people, especially fellow bloggers. They are the famous, wealthy, and elite among bloggers. However, they did not begin on top.
In a nearby region of the jungle, thousands of bloggers with huge followings write thoughtful and penetrating pieces about their topic area. Some may not be well-known throughout the web, but they certainly lead their niche community in what they write about. These bloggers are even more independent in a sense because they write for a niche community, fans that admire them and enjoy reading their blogs. They tend to have fewer large sponsers, earning revenue through ads, ebooks, webinars, and courses. These bloggers are on their way up, stable trees growing into massive ones.
In their shade reside the vast majority of bloggers that range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of visitors each month. We are the ground vegetation, and even though this blogging is not as well known, many times it is equally well written.
And then, there are those bloggers who are just starting, who feel small and unimportant in the large web. However, just as in the rainforest all kinds of life are needed to support the complex and chaotic system. So if you are a blogger just beginning, do not be intimidated or feel trivial. The moss is just as important and beautiful as the giant avocado tree.
You have probably been through this stage before, when friends and family are your only readers, when you feel like a tiny fiber in the web. In the social web, things change rapidly, and one organism can change into another, evolving quickly. The moss of today becomes the tree of tomorrow. You can do this.
Your place in the jungle
At every stage bloggers are accomplishing great things, and most find the act of sharing their writing and reading the posts of others valuable. There are many ways to realize this value, but a few ideas of what blogging does for you are helpful. Analyze the list while thinking about where you fit in and what you have to give and gain through blogging. Writing daily or weekly in a blog:
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By Darin L. Hammond
Works for BlogCatalog, owns and writes at ZipMinis.com, and freelances as a writer and designer. Darin Publishes across the web on sites like Technorati, BC Blog, Blog Critics, Broowaha, Demand Media Studios, and Social Media Today. Google
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