Now that the dust has settled on the New Years celebrations and we’re heading into the official start of the new year – the first day back to work – I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on where we are and give you some thoughts on where we’re headed as the year progresses.
The first and most obvious thing is that “blogging” as a trend and a vehicle for large-scale traffic, is dead. Writing, I am happy to report, is not.
When this site got its start six years ago, huge volumes of traffic were being pushed through Blogger, WordPress.com and other sites because people wanted the opportunity to be social in their views and reflections and blogs offered the best choice at the time. However, setting up and running a blog – even on hosted sites like WordPress.com – still requires a certain level of commitment that most people just don’t have time for. Besides which, having a blog suggests needing to write something useful or profound, whereas most people would be perfectly happy to write a quick sentence about their kids or where they’re going tonight. So social networks like FaceBook and Twitter provide a low-impact, low-key way of doing everything that blogging was ever about – reading other’s thoughts, sharing your own.
As a developer and as an enthusiastic consumer of technology, my own habits have moved much more in the direction of social networking and away from this site: the @dragonflyeye Twitter account and the DragonFlyEye.Net FaceBook page have both become central parts of my day-to-day communication with my audience. The site is still in regular use, but largely as an essay writing site, and quite static. Meanwhile, the most recent update to the site layout – done about a year and a half ago – reflected some but not all of this reality. The site definitely features other networks more prominently. But it also was setup to enhance the profile of the writing and actually represents a return to a fairly traditional blog layout.
In more techy/wonky news, recent developments in HTML5 and CSS3 support across the Internet have made this an exciting year to be a web developer! Whereas support for Internet Explorer 6 had previously stunted broad support for the rich new layouts promised by CSS3, we head into the new year comfortable in the knowledge that support for “Web Fonts” and other neato tricks like text rotation can be relied upon sufficiently. Personally, the idea that I can create a new version of DFE with the slick custom fonts presented by sites like The Blaze (conservative bastards that they are!) has me jumping out of my skin to get started!
So, what does all this mean for the future of DFE? Where do we go next? Well, here’s an unordered list of goals and projects for the near future:
- Writers! As ever, I am looking for new writers with new voices for the site. In my most conceited moments of pure dream-land, I have always envisioned DragonFlyEye.Net as Rochester’s online answer to Harper’s and Rolling Stone. I don’t want the site to be all politics, all the time. And I am actively campaigning to find new writers and essayists for a wide variety of topics including those proven to be of interest to my Twitter followers: science, technology, music and culture.
- A new layout, a new focus. I think it’s time to completely rethink the DFE layout yet again. Whereas the current focus is on egalitarian display of my writer’s work, I think the next layout will need to focus on the “DFE Network” as a unit: Twitter, FaceBook, Bit.ly, perhaps Google Buzz and others. The front page will likely take on more of a news magazine look and feel, in an effort to drive more traffic onto the site.
- Onward and upward, Social Networkers! The ability to directly engage with you, my audience, has been an invaluable asset in understanding what it is you’re really interested in and what will drive the next wave of inspiration. Thank you so much!! And we’re not stopping now. I’m wracking my brain, trying to come up with cunning new ways of expanding my reach on FaceBook, Twitter and other social networks. By all means, help me out with a few #ff’s and “likes”!
- Mailing list. Email still has a prominent place in our communications, with new innovations like Google Wave pointing the way to richer versions in the near future. So, DFE is going to have a mailing list soon, so as not to miss out on these new technologies. This is requiring a lot of recoding to an old plugin I wrote for a local band many years ago, but hopefully I won’t be too much longer with that.
- Twitter integration. Yeah, I know I listed SNs above. But Twitter in particular has been a key to my current strategy and will be a lot more key in the future. I’m playing around with Twitter logins to allow commenting quickly and easily through the Twitter API. Also, there’s going to be some new back end funkiness that will help me find more of you cool people.
Wow. That shouldn’t take too long, should it?
I want to thank every one of you who reads my blog, my Twitter feed, my FaceBook page and everything else I’ve been working on over the past several years. Thank you for sticking with me as I’ve struggled to transition from my old rapid-fire, hyper-partisan blogging into new realms of content and media. I could not do this without you. Or rather, I totally could, but it would boring as hell…
Happy New Year from DFE!