Conversation with Danny Brown

Conversation with Danny Brown
  • Danny, thanks for joining me.

    As I mentioned in my intro, you've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the future of social conversation, comments sections and the blogosphere in general.  The last few years have seen much of the conversation about the content move off of the page and onto other platforms e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit etc.  

    For those who haven't read your posts -- why is this a meaningful problem?

  • Hey there Zach,

    Ha, okay, first of all, thanks for the very kind intro - way to go on putting the pressure on to try and be interesting with the replies. ;-)

    I'm not sure if it's as much a problem as something content creators need to be aware of, and think about how they tackle it.

    For brands, it's another channel they have to be aware of. If they were already worried about "losing control" on social, and hoping to keep their content and subsequent discussions on their own platforms, that's been continuously eroded.

    For indie publishers, they need to assess if they should perhaps be creating content for these alternative channels, or trying to build from their own home-base and see how they can partner or implement these other channels, without losing the traffic that comes with keeping content on your owned platform.

  • And isn't that really the $64K question -- especially in light of Andrew Sullivan quitting blogging -- will blogging, not just comments, disappear? Ezra Klein and others are already getting nostalgic for blogging the way old school journalists talk about newspapers.

    Now, the ReplyAll team is betting that's not the case, but I'd be lying if I told you that I don't sometimes wonder (read: lose sleep) if ultimately the web is going to shift away from web based content and all content will essentially live on a few social platforms like FB and Twitter.  

    Do you think that's a realistic possibility?
  • Funnily enough, I hadn't heard about Andrew's decision to quit until you mentioned it here - but completely understand his point of view. Since my two kids were born (they're three and five), I've completely changed my content patterns to spend less time online, and more time offline (and dropped to one post per week, the occasional two). Personal losses that affected close friends also made me reevaluate how we spend our time.

    I'm not sure if blogging will ever be replaced by social networks. Sure, LinkedIn Pulse and Google+ show how networks can offer quality long-form updates - but you're still just renting space, versus owning land. Think of the folks that lost so much content when Posterous closed down, for instance.

    So, no, I don't believe blogging will be superseded by network content - but it can (and should) be enhanced by other platforms and discussions.

  • Danny -- you haven't heard about Andrew Sullivan leaving blogging? But that was a whole week ago! And what's this about creating meaningful relationships online -- what kind of influential blogger are you? ;-)

    I've heard many people, some who I really respect, say something to the effect of "Facebook is my blog." To a certain degree it makes sense -- it's hard to build a blog following, unless you want to use Medium, HuffingtonPost or BuzzFeed -- and even then...Facebook makes it easier to be heard.

    I'm curious, though, how do you, as a blogger, react to that comment?

  • Haha, see, I warned you after that big build-up intro!! :)

    You know, if someone thinks Facebook is their blog, and spends the time there, and sees results, more power to them. Personally, I don't subscribe (ooh, see what I did there?!) to that mindset/approach.

    Take Chris Brogan, who said Google+ was the future, and left Facebook for it (with a very public statement into the bargain). Now he's never on G+, and back on Facebook. All that "work" building up his G+ persona, and it's essentially gone.

    The same danger goes for Facebook as a blog - if you tire of the platform, what then? You can't really take your audience with you. At least with your own self-hosted solution, it doesn't matter if you take a break, change frequency, experiment with update types, etc., - people will know where you are. Every time.

    So, by all means, make a social network your blog, but don't be surprised if your hard work disappears because the network didn't deliver what you thought it would.

  • I'm glad I asked you the question.  I have a little different reaction but I like yours better.  During my senior year in college, I was a standup comedian.  It was an incredibly difficult task, not only writing good material, but building up credibility at clubs around the city to let me perform -- it's the parallel to building an audience on your blog.  Neither are easy.

    When I hear FB is my blog, or more people will read my FB posts than will read my blog it makes me think of the person who cracks some good jokes at a dinner party, but would never have the guts to go on stage in front of an audience who he's never met.

    I need to pick your brain a bit more.  Although video/audio content have become more widespread, written content is still yielding the highest ROI (easiest to create, discover and consume) -- do you see that trend continuing or are we heading towards a world of video content only?

  • You did stand-up? You have my admiration, something I could never have the nerve to do!

    I don't think video or podcasting will replace the written word, much like I don't think the written word will deter podcasters or video bloggers from enjoying success. There are some great success stories at the minute, for example, from Vine creators, who have signed million dollar sponsorship deals, and podcasters who are getting thousands (if not millions) of listeners and downloads each episode.

    Personally (and I'm probably biased, being a written word type of blogger), I do believe you get more emotionally involved with the written word than you could ever get with video or audio.

    Yes, a great video that tells an emotional story will hook you, because you can see it happen - but for me, that's video's very weakness: you're seeing someone else's vision. How many times have you read a book, then seen its movie translation, and being disappointed in the director's vision?

    Words paint a picture that people can paint - video has already used all of the canvas. For that reason, I see written content continuing to be the one that drives true engagement and involvement.

  • I'm going to quote you on that Danny.  Thanks so much for joining -- this was a lot of fun we'll have to do this again sometime.  

    Danny "owns real estate" at and you can (and should) follow him on Twitter
  • Cheers, Zach, this was a really refreshing approach to content, and looking forward to tearing it apart and seeing what different ways it can be used as part of blogging - thanks again!