What a blog post will look like in 2020

future_blogpost_cover

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I believe that if you want to have success in the present you must anticipate the future. No crystal ball required.

Why? Because you want to sniff out trends to ride them. If you only act on what’s already happening, you’re getting sidetracked to second, third or even worse, fourth place. Like driving a Ferrari with two feet slammed on the brakes. Screeeech.

So, how can one even try to predict how content marketing, in this case blog writing, will look in the future ? Well, we have to remember the fundamental laws:

  • Nature is lazy, hence, we’re lazy. We want maximum results with minimum effort.
  • Content in the future will be based on this principle: Consume the maximum amount of content with minimum effort,  whatever, whenever, wherever we want.

The following predictions represent my opinion and not the truth, so if there’s a time traveler from the future in the audience, don’t eliminate me with your ray gun because my predictions didn’t all come true in 2020. Cool?

Let’s roll.  Six possible futures of the blog post in 2020:

1) High-end, low-end blogging styles.

I believe the normal 500 – 1000 word blog posts will enter oblivion because content will serve one of the two emerging reader camps:

Snippet readers — According to FastCompany, Facebook updates make for the most memorable writing. Strange, but it makes sense. With the ever-increasing battle for attention, people crave minimalistic, write-it-like-you-say-it content. Mini-blog posts that can be consumed like fast food, not rich in nutrition, but they give you the essentials.

Long-form essay readers — On the other site we’ll larger sized articles (1000 – 7000 words and more). These are going to be evergreen, in-depth articles, almost mini ebooks, that require more sitting and attention but reward you with more brain nutrition (aka valuable information!). They can be offered for a minimal fee, let’s say .99 cents or 2 dollars (think Kindle-single) or will be infrequently published in longer time intervals.

2) Mobile optimized content psychology.

I’m not talking responsive design and bigger fonts. I mean writing specifically for the mobile person in mind.

In Japan for example, cellphone novels are all the rage. They are romance and paranormal based stories in messaging style, created in a way that makes them readable on the go. Smirk all you want, but these sell up to 400,000 units per digi-novel. Even if you don’t plan on writing e-novels, this comes with mass inspiration for possible blogging ideas :

One thought one paragraph. Wayyy more white space to allow eyes to breathe. Simpler structure and bite-sized chapters so people can read between breaks / commute / waiting. And even more white space.

America’s best-selling fiction author James Patterson already implements this style.  Maybe we should too.

3) Real time blogging.

This is the old model: Write a blog post, publish it, share on social media, wait for comments = clumsy and time-consuming. In the future, live blogging could be the alternative.

A content creator could say: Real time blogging from me, every Monday and Thursday. At a specific time, people show up online and interact live with the creator.

Baratunde Thurston did something like this with his last book. Fans could go online and see the words on the screen as he was in the act of writing.

4) Co-created content creation (alliteration ahoy!)

Like the example above, the idea of the author writing “to” their audience will be outdated.  It’s going to be more of a dialogue. Mark Schaefer has often said the comment section on {grow} is better than the original posts. Well, now the comments can BE the post, as he could live-write a killer post, and YOU, the audience, could participate and share your info and expertise directly into it, in real-time. Think of it as valuable commenting live-embedded into the post.

5) True global blogging.

Most native English speakers don’t understand how few people in the world actually speak and understand English.

I live in the so-called European Startup hub Berlin, and even here most people can’t understand English that goes beyond High School level. Meh.

The advancement of online translation will change that. Every person with zero English skills will be able to instantly AND perfectly translate your blog post into their native tongue. And I mean perfectly, not awkward Google translate style.

Forget about only Europeans and North Americans commenting on your blog. The next comment will come from a Nepalese village girl that digs your article on advanced social media metrics.

augmented-blogging

6) Blog posts will be screen independent.

In a few years, people (including our future selves) will look back and laugh at our midget screens. In 2020, only savages will use static screens. Blog posts and digital content won’t be read on your portable screen, but everywhere “on” your surrounding.

How?

Well, you use your micro-chip infused glasses (like Google Glasses) and / or contact lenses to project the required information straight into your environment. Walls, streets, storefronts, heck, even your car could be used as a background for your digitally projected content. Information is going to be (screen) free.

Do you see where all this is going?

In a few years the blog post you know and love will no longer exist. Au revoir.

Just like diary-like journaling turned into blogging, blogging will turn into a different content style that will fit our ever-changing attention span and habits.

Forget how people do content marketing now and focus on how it will be done in the future. It’s time to blog back to the future.

mars dorianMars Dorian describes himself as a creative marketeer with a moon-melting passion for human potential and technology. You can follow his adventures at www.marsdorian.com/

Original illustrations by the author.

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  • Great article, I bet that was a lot of fun to write?!

    I personally can’t wait for innovations such as Google Glass to be released, the possibilities look endless.

    Mobile optimized content is particularly interesting, this is already evident on sites and apps such as Rebel Mouse and Flipboard which give you a snippet view of larger articles, it’s often the case that you can get the required information simply by scanning the snippets and never actually opening the full article.

    Not sure about the ‘live writing’ though, ‘too many cooks’ and all that, could result in confusing tangents or at worst, arguments amongst the many ‘authors’ (maybe that’s another attraction for some – the debate).

    Definitely makes you think! 🙂

  • That is a very cool post! I particularly love the concept of “real-time” blogging and can totally see this happening. It would actually enhance the relationship between the author and the readers, between readers themselves, and make the blog a much more dynamic, living environment.
    Nice!
    Cheers from Quebec City,
    Frederic

  • It was a lot of fun to write.

    I’m curious about the live writing – if you are the content creator, you can still overview all the people live commenting etc. – you’ll be more like the curator

    and can decide what gets published and what doesn’t.
    But maybe you’re right, maybe that will result in too “many cooks”.
    I’d luv to test and find out.

  • Yeah me too, I can’t wait to see that work. Curious like crazy.

  • Mars,

    Great ideas dude. I didn’t know you doubled as a Futurist?

    I’m very much on board with the one thought, micro-content novel idea. Reading in the digital world is different than reading in the physical. White space allows our brain time and structure to move through content.

    Google Glasses and the implications on our society scare the crap out of me but I definitely see them as the future.

    Hanley

  • What a strong voice mate! Cheers for this informational piece of writing. I agree with most of your points. This topic could definitely go more in depth, and I’m sure you have lots of great insights you could explain further in your blog. Looking forward to that, if this is what you have in mind.

  • I didn’t have this in mind, Tommy, but I’ll think about it.
    I’m always tinkering between writing longer posts and decent sized ones like these.

  • My full name is actually Mars Future Dorian (what a combo, eh ?)
    I can’t wait for the Google Glasses technology to work in contacts – that would be the next level of augmented reality. Scary at first, but then again, we humans can get used to almost everything.

  • You can start the essay-trend already.., way ahead of the future…

  • Good post.., bringing up the time travelling paradox is nice. A visitor from the future reading {grow}, maybe guiding us in a particular direction through the comments section.
    Maybe he (or she) even found a way to guest write on this blog.., maybe a post about the future of blogging… hmmm…

    Anyway.., you just might hit the future nail on the head with your predictions.., they do appear to be quite plausible.

  • Well, personally I totally agree with #1. I posted it in my Tumblr blog already http://tmblr.co/ZzszkshEugBw.

    That’s why I started posting small and strongly visual updates on my personal and band’s facebook profiles.

    For the ones who like spending more time on my updates, call it an in-depth essay about a subject or an extended update about how my band’s activities go, I’ve created the mailing list and the ‘insiders’ section. Not everyone will join, but the ones who will do, they’re gonna be valuable for us.

    Let me know if you’d like to co-write something on the topic!

    Regards mate

  • Ahhh, Mars. Ultra-badass post. Totally love your ideas and the delivery.

    Great to see some familiar faces here too (Hi Ryan!)

    Anyway, to offer a fresh view (its not hatin’, I swear! Bear with me.)

    Personally I get a bit tired of doom-and-gloom “X industry” or “X media format” is ending predictions.

    For example, Vinyl has found a new home. Antiques have their own subculture, and even reality shows. I’m in the middle of coaching a client who closed down his giant Pakistani jeans factory in early 2000 and wants to revive and reclaim his rare design masters, auctioning them off as collector’s items.

    Yes, I get the drama and the buzz the world loves loves loves with big, punchy declarations like X will be GONE by 2042, etc, but very often it’s more like: “There’ll be a whole new niche/sub-culture for X by 2042.”

    And yes, I love your points about mobile-leaning content, co-created leaning content, etc. — all brilliant insights and I agree with them. I wanted to add some kind of qualification to what seems to me to be a bit of hyperbole though 😉

    Anyway, just 2 cents, ideally fresh cents that no one else has proposed/shared yet, ’cause what would J-Ryze be without Fresh Views On Taboos 🙂

    Either way, thanks for the insightful read.

  • Ryan, good to see you here man 🙂

    And like Google and Apple I applaud the use of white-space.

    I`m also being my cheeky self and making subtle nudges about `predicting futures`.

    For example, I’ll note this brilliant quote from Daniel Kahneman.

    “The results were devastating. People who spend their time and earn their living studying a particular topic produce poorer predictions than dart-throwing monkeys…” (p. 219).

    Okay, so maybe predicting things is trickier than it appears, doesn’t mean it ain’t fun, and it doesn’t mean Mars didn’t nail it – he very well may have 🙂

    Only time will tell, eh? 🙂

  • Kickass post. Excited for the future. Already see some clues now, with things like ThingLink for interactive images or blogs having special guest discussions in the comments. It also beats reading ten 700 word posts about a topic I’m trying to learn when I’d rather invest in an e-book then snack on micro content. Love your style and wake up call!

  • Hey Anne, I’m really curious to see how this interactive idea follows through.
    I see blogs like “The Verge” already implementing live update features within their blog post with special events, but without any reader interaction.

  • I understand totally your point, Jason, as nothing really disappears. Heck, I read in article from the 1950s that TV and radio will “destroy” and replace books and paintings, and look how that turned out. But I also believe that a lot of things becomes so nichey that they become irrelevant to the general public. Vinyl does exist in small fan bases, but it’s completely irrelevant to the mainstream public, just like CDs.

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  • tianakai

    I love this post, right on! My favorites are real time blogging and co-created content. I too am a huge fan of the commentary on Grow and always appreciate the banter and insight. It would be awesome to start a post with a question and just have people start adding their thoughts… I need to work on my followers before I tackle this idea, or maybe not. It would be interesting and fun to try!

    Digital publishing is trying to understand how it fits in and that Japanese company seems to have nailed it! These are all great ideas for self publishers to seriously consider.

    Thanks Mars, your name seems more than fitting for this post. 🙂

  • To your fourth point, we turned a Facebook update into co-created content and it turned into one of our most popular posts last year. It works and makes for some really valuable information when done right.

  • Love this post — I see a couple ideas I can use right now. Not waiting for 2020…! Of course I already do longform posts, partly because I can’t seem to be concise. 😉

  • Far out! Number Two, Mobilized Content, got me thinking about novels written as series of short messages. Vonnegut’s Hocus Pocus comes to mind. It’s an entire novel written as “little scraps of paper,” one-liners in sequential order. Imagine writing that in 1990? In the future, as in tomorrow, I could see continuous, entertaining text messages (or whatever futuristic medium) being delivered in a never ending series of short mobile content. Tawk amongst yourselves…

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  • Interesting, so this happens already now ? Gotta delete it from this future post then 😉

  • Yeah, I think that’s a way to go. Considering our short attention spans, this bite-sized content, be it fiction or non-fiction, is really the best way to consume on the go. I’d appreciate, if it’s well written.

  • Mars, too good and I can see the future coming. Foresightedness helps in becoming a thought leader, though it challenging to do things whose time is yet to come.

    High end, low end point of yours reminds me of a trend in advertising industry. On one hand there is an emergence of conglomerates, who handle everything and on the other hand, there are small niche agencies/creative hotshops doing only copywriting etc. The co-existence of either too small/specialized and too big/generalized-the contradiction of our times.

  • toddwheatland

    Great work Mars. Interested in your optimism about online translation – what current developments do you see that are indicating this gap is being closed? I’d love to share your optimism, but don’t see the toolset emerging yet?

  • Yeah, that’s a fascinating trend that goes on in almost every industry I know : wether it’s design, art, games etc. , you see the middle sized companies disappearing. It’s easier a small, personal production, or a gigantic multi-million (or billion) production. David or Goliath. I always wonder why that happens.

  • Hey Todd, dont you think it’s already in the making ?

    When I see sites like http://duolingo.com/ and people working on WP-plugins that work like Google translate, I think this will come sooner or later.

    I imagine something like the guys did from captcha project, where you not only identify a string of words to prove that you’re human, but also translate a word on the go for the global book description process : http://www.ted.com/talks/luis_von_ahn_massive_scale_online_collaboration.html

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  • This was adventurous. I like the way of the future.

  • Thought-provoking predictions – definitely love any conversation dealing with where something is headed. Definitely the prediction with the most impact is the power of global blogging. As translators become more and more accurate, I think we will see an unprecedented boom in blogging. I mean, in the next 10 years, we’ll be seeing a surge of new Internet users as many developing nations are getting on the Internet at a tremendous pace.

    Couple that with the ability of people to communicate easier with better translators, thing of all the ideas exchanged, consumed and created. It will truly be a game-changer.

    Comments as content is brilliant. Like that is what makes content high-quality: when it provokes other content. Literally thought-provoking. Mark can definitely just create a whole new blog where all he does is highlight other people’s comments. The comment-game he has is SERIOUS.

    The overlying theme in all these predictions is the continuation of the breaking of barriers. We are being less and less confined by systems and status quo when it comes to creating content. You give people an inch and they will want the mile (in a very good way). Different mediums, different lengths, different languages etc will all thrive in their own way as people continue embracing what works best for them.

    You are an excellent example of this. Different styles, technologies, and opportunities are all becoming available that gives people more and more freedom to get an idea from their head into another person’s head.

  • Jean Baudrillard would love this “invasion of the networks of communication”. Screens everywhere and the logic of late capitalism all pervasive, rendering us screens ourselves !

  • Feels very much like a “blogging is dead” post ! Or at least, as we know it now. Loved the fact you didn’t go on about video being the dominant force further down the line. The written word, it seems, will have a role to play.

  • blogdog

    I wonder if reality won’t catch up here. I would agree on much of the premises above, but technology could have more implications. Picture some technology such as the Galaxy S4 which actually tracks the users eyes to scroll the screen. I think such features make content ever become more interactive. When focussing on a particular item, more information could be revealed, much like focussing on a particular detail in a photograph will cause the detail to be zoomed in on. I would not be surprised that written content might look so much different in 2020 as we currently imagine. And perhaps linear narrative content might be replaced by content that adapts to the viewer. Truly, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder 🙂

  • heh, Jon, I was hoping I was NOT going to write a “blogging is dead” post. I believe because of the change in our habits and technology, it will simply evolve and then maybe even get a different name.

  • The whole issue of naming is a good point. In many ways we’re restricted by the connotations blogging still has. Then again, the telephone has changed drastically since Alexander Bell first invented the thing.
    I believe that what we’re doing with blogging nowadays will be achieved through a combination of audio, video and text but the source platform might be different. For example, I could see how a YouTube hub or some other location could be the hub that is used to deliver a variety of content instead of the blog.
    Html 5 may well change the frame.

    At the moment the date-based delivery of blog content also seems rather limiting.
    But a very provocative post all the same. Cheers.

  • This is the “redemption” for the blogging is dead post Jon : )

  • LOL! I like the sound of that.
    Just hope we’re all still around blogging away, whatever that involves, in 2020 :=)

  • Apart form the screen independent visualization, and considering the rapid pace with which digital stuff rapidly morphs. I see most of these things happening in the next 2-3 years. Why did you choose 2020? Does that mean we still have at least seven years for blogging the usual way? I’m being a little sarcastic but also optimistic here. 🙂

  • He, 2020 just has a nice vibe to it, and it looks symmetric. The way things move now, you’re right, some of it will appear much faster.

  • I love this post, right on! My favorites are real time blogging and co-created content. I too am a huge fan of the commentary on Grow and always appreciate the banter and insight. It would be awesome to start a post with a question and just have people start adding their thoughts…”” http://www.friv11.com/tags/recentplays/1 “” I need to work on my followers before I tackle this idea, or maybe not. It would be interesting and fun to try!

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  • Interesting post, Mars. I think you will be proved right with most of your ideas. I guess as bloggers, or business people, it’s important to free our minds and go with the flow.

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  • toddwheatland

    Conceptually, I like duolingo – but I’m still reserving my skepticism about how far/fast it’ll be before language isn’t still a big challenge. But excited at the potential to be proven wrong.

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  • Interesting. Whichever way it goes, it’s still going to take time, but at least the audience will decide what to read, like, value, share so hopefully some of the ‘content developed for content sake’ (90%+) will and should inevitably start to disappear!

  • NancyMEdwards

    Why do you say blogging evolved from journal writing? Blogging was an outgrowth of media no longer having budgets to do real reporting. So people get paid (or not) for their opinions now; much cheaper than sending out a news crew.

    the innner journalist in me is cringing, but I suppose this is the natural evolution of source-based writing. now instead of having at least 1 other source to corroborate a story, you have the potential for millions….

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  • Interesting thoughts on snippet and long form blogging, Mars. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact future technology will have on this.

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  • Number 6 only tells half the story. It’s not so much “screen independent” – I think our entire process of curating and digesting content will be completely different.

    We’ll see ‘intelligent’ content readers appear which will extract snippets from multiple sources that we, individuals, find interesting, and those readers will provide a summary of those snippets. A bit like an automated version of a Facebook Activity stream, or Flipbook, which digests content from all over the Internet and presents it back to us – but only the interesting content.

    It’s possible that we’ll have humans performing this curation for us for a small price. This is a natural evolution from a newspaper editor to a personalised content editor.

    I doubt we’ll be reading the curated content as text though. It’s likely this will be presented as sound or video (think “Max Headroom” style!)

    Having used Google Glass I can’t see it being used for long form text content (even video for more than a couple of minutes is pushing the usability of a single eye device).

    Whether curation will be automated or human edited, this will be the most fascinating area of development in the next 5 years because we’ll all have so many devices and be hungry for content (and games – but that’s another post altogether).

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