Less is more, according to two big-time bloggers
(Caption: Peter Vogel writes about how some important bloggers, such as Robert Scoble (above) have decided to drop off the face of the Internet earth. Photo credit: Robert Scoble, via Wikimedia Commons.)
Two of social media's more prominent mavens have pulled back their public-facing presence recently.
If you are active on Twitter or Google+, or on Facebook where he became active later, you likely recognize the name Robert Scoble. Part huckster, part self-promoter, part bon-vivant, Scoble did nothing without tremendous passion.
His social media postings, primarily on those three platforms, attracted an enormous number of followers (more than 6 million on Google+, more than 600,000 on Facebook).
Recently Scoble pulled back from his oh-so-public persona, describing why he is doing so in a detailed Facebook posting, and in a lesser posting on Google+. His withdrawal followed by just a day or two that of long time Daily Dish blogger Andrew Sullivan, who was already well-established in print journalism before embarking on a career in digital media.
I remember when Scoble recommended me as someone to follow on Google+. Instantly I began to get 1,000 or more new followers a day. Amazing. There was intense competition to have a Twitter post retweeted by The Scobleizer, the handle he used on that platform, or to have him react to a public post on Google+.
My long-time teaching colleague Linda West used to say, "Peter, with so many followers there will be pressure to have something witty and useful to say every day."
Of course I didn't see it that way. Besides, in my case the numbers are much lower than for, say, Sullivan and Scoble.
Scoble was a whirlwind, a dust devil if you will, who would blog and tweet in intense spurts, typically about what he perceived to be the next "big thing" in technology.
His influence was significant. Some would say he could make or break a new product.
Then again, he really only wrote about products and services that appealed to him.
He was one of the early adopters of the Google+ blogging and social media platform.
About two and half years in, though, he felt that the service had stagnated, and he loudly announced he was going back to Facebook, mind you that was after some of his most famous posts on Google+.
Scoble had let it be known that he was to be one of the first to have access to Google Glass, that quirky product from the Google idea factory that subsequently struggled to find a market. Scoble could not be restrained in his enthusiasm for Glass, and he posted a photo of himself wearing the product while in the shower.
That photo of him wearing Glass while in the shower was flashed around the world on many social media platforms. In some ways it typified his all-or-nothing approach to technology. He didn't particularly care for people who challenged his methods or his ideas.
Scoble also let it be known that he was typically on a first-name basis with many of the movers and shakers in technology, and he'd often write public missives to them suggesting one change or another to their product or service.
It was essentially Scoble's employer, Rackspace Solutions, a provider of cloud storage and web-hosting platforms, who gave him carte blanche to travel the world to technology trade shows and to film interviews with developers of promising inventions.
Perhaps most unusual in Scoble's public announcement was his expression of a need for "white space." In fact he began his Facebook post with that expression: "White Space. (IMPORTANT: This is why I will not return to the Internet until further notice)."
He went on to refer to white space as what he saw when he looked at a Picasso painting or an Ansel Adams photograph, the area surrounding the work that, in Scoble's words, helps the art inside become magical.
Most telling of all, though, near the end of his post he referred to a need to rediscover how to have fun without drugs or alcohol in his bloodstream, surely a veiled reference to the frenetic pace he had maintained in recent years.
After he reiterated his call for white space, he stated that he expected to be totally off the public Internet until he had his family, spiritual, and business life figured out. Curiously he closed by noting that he would, however, be watching social media aggregator service Flipboard.
There may be more than a little irony at play here when we read that Google Glass itself has been pulled back from further development and will, for the foreseeable future, no longer be offered for sale.