I’ve now been blogging for 10 years. Looking back we haven’t seen all that much innovation for bloggers. You have a box. You type in it. Put an image into it. And hit publish. That’s much the same as the tools I had 10 years ago.
But now comes Quora.
I’m really loving it. I have a hard time explaining why. I’m not the only one, either.
So what’s going on there?
First, look at the Quora items I’ve been participating in. This is a lot like a blog. But it’s not Dave Winer’s blog style. It’s any question I’ve followed, written in, voted up, etc.
So, what is the innovation here?
First, it learned from Twitter. Ask your users a question and they’ll answer it.
Second, they learned from Facebook. Build a news feed that brings new items to you.
Third, they learned from the best social networks. You follow people you like. But then they twisted it. You can follow topics. Or you can follow questions in addition to following people. This is great for new users who might not know anyone. They can follow topics.
Fourth, they learned from blogs about how to do great SEO. I’ve started seeing Quora show up on Google.
Fifth, they learned from FriendFeed, Digg, and other systems that let you vote up things. If you watch a question that has a lot of engagement you’ll even see votes roll in live. It’s very addictive.
Sixth, they brought the live “engagement display” that Google Wave had: it shows who is answering a question WHILE they are answering it.
Seventh, it has a great search engine for you to find things you are interested in.
Anyway, I find that there’s something addictive about participating over there instead of here on my blog. Why? Because when you see people voting up your answers or adding their own replies in real time it makes you realise there’s a good group of people reading your stuff. I don’t get that immediate rush here (here I have to wait for comments to show up, which isn’t nearly as immediate).
I notice that the same thing has me very excited about Instagram, too. When I look at other people’s photos I can see lots of people liking them and commenting on them in real time.
Will Quora kill blogging? No. Blogging has a business model for publishers that Quora does not provide yet (I don’t care about the business model so I’m free to go where the innovations are happening).
Thanks Quora for providing a great community and way for people to communicate about what’s interesting in their lives in a new way. That’s innovation in blogging.
By the way, even pro-bloggers are using Quora. Today Techcrunch used Quora to find and report on Flickr in a new way (that isn’t the first time they’ve done that, either).
UPDATE: Mark Suster, VC, explains why he thinks Quora is significant.
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