There’s this meme going around that tech blogging fails hard. I’m not sure who to blame for this one… obviously Scoble’s a likely candidate, but I think my compadre Steven Hodson in his inimitable cranky style may have got the ball rolling on this. Perhaps it’s just this damned summer heat. In terms of the news cycles, if the year were a fortnight, Christmastime and Summertime would be the weekends.
I’m going to round up this whole meme here and sprinkle it with some commentary. I had intended to make this a full-on editorial, but for a few reasons it didn’t pass our editorial muster at Mashable (for reasons I understand and agree with). Consequently it’s relegated to the black hole of obscurity which is rizzn.com.
- Is Tech Blogging Getting Boring? It’s his party, and he’ll crank if he wants to. Steven’s birthday was over the weekend, and he was feeling like complaining about how blogging on tech was getting a little dull and repetitive. He said it was more or less a passing impression (if memory serves) on Sunday’s ETN.
- Blogging Has Lost Its Relational Focus. Darren Rowse says that the blogosphere just doesn’t get along with each other anymore. He obviously hasn’t read a political blog in a while. It’s mostly just for-profit tech bloggers that hate each other, and only a couple of them participate in that foolishness. I’m good (online) friends with employees at Mashable competitors ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, Blog Herald and one former TechCrunch writer.
- Has/How/Why tech blogging has failed you. Of course you can count on Robert for an “is dead” post. Not long ago it was blog comments. Now it’s blogging. Here’s why it fails, according to Robert: bad factchecking, we’re PR mouthpieces, we’re like Old Media, our commenters are jerks, and we have no follow-up. His solution is to delete everything in his feed reader. Valleywag has it in 100 words.
- What Do You Want Out Of Social Media? A fellow I don’t read yet, but see him occasionally show up in comment threads on FriendFeed is Steve Olson. He bounces off Robert’s thoughts, saying they resonate with him. Needless to say I disagree with both of them. More on that later.
- What Will We Do When Growth is No Longer the “In” Thing Anymore? Charles Hudson riffs on this meme and thinks that we’re at the end of the tech boom. You’d be right if you guessed that he’s being influenced by habitual economic naysayer Hank Williams. Charles is the first one that I saw that took this to a direction related to business models. He’s right that everything in the world can’t be ad supported. He’s wrong that we’re anywhere near a penetration point.
- Techmeme and TechCrunch’s Detractors Prove It’s Hard to be On Top. This post by Louis Gray arrived concurrent to the other meme, but likely was subconsciously inspired by the same circumstances. Louis engaged Steven on this meme during ETN, and of course regularly hangs out and reads all these folks on FriendFeed and in GReader. It isn’t directly related to the meme, but it suggests there’s a rift growing between the community of folks who read “A-List” blogs and those who write them. I see his point, and don’t completely disagree (in economics, it would be called ‘class conflict’).
- Is social media becoming a vast wasteland? No, but Shel Israel thinks it is. According to Shel, there should be no one with a louder voice than anyone else, because the resulting swollen egos are and potty-mouthed commentarians are a perversion of Dave Winer and Doc Searls’ dream for social media.
- Maybe Blogging is Just a Loss-Leader. I almost forgot to add Sarah Lacy’s screed to this list (this was the height of the fervor that made me want to write this post). She riff’s on Robert Scoble’s idea and proposes the idea of freemium as a way for bloggers to have an alternative to advertisements as an income – only she does it in such a way as to make it sound like she came up with the idea. “You know, I have this heavy box to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. I sure wish I had a round thing to put under this box to make it easier to transport.” Replace “heavy box” with blog monetization and “round thing” with the concept of freemium, and you’ve got her post.
There were other related posts I didn’t go into because it’s five AM as I’m writing this, and I think you get the point they’re all trying to make.
I would say I hate to rock the boat here, but I think we all know that isn’t true. The fact is, though, that things have been this way for quite a while. Remember this old classic lyric: [insert Alexa-ranked blog name here] doesn’t do a good job covering stories and they just regurgitate press releases? Unfortunately here I think Robert is trying to act like Spartacus and lead some sort of “[insert alphabet letter here]-List” uprising.
Actions speak louder than words, though, and this is social media. You don’t lead by talking about leading, you lead by doing (the meritocracy takes care of the rest). All of this comes down to a long protracted bitchmeme, and while all the words were expertly written and generally very compelling, it’s all ground we’ve covered a hundred times before in a hundred discussion cycles before.
Is the social media landscape changing dramatically right now? Of course. Are blogs a decent way to make money still, even with ads? Hell yes. Do those ad models need improvement and adjustments? Didn’t I just say so yesterday?
Look, I worked for over a year as an independent journalist with podcasts and blogging. It was tough work and I was virtually unknown before Mashable, but I supported my family (there was then 3.5 of us) through a marriage and pregnancy while paying one employee. It’s possible, and it’s only getting easier with the advent of tools like Twitter and FriendFeed. The blogosphere is growing up and going mainstream. There are growing pains, and we can all stand some room to improve.
Let’s just not get overzealous and declare blogging dead, ok?
Update: Apparently what didn’t pass editorial muster at Mashable made it at TechCrunch. Erick
Update #2: Aaron Brazell has drank the kool-aid on a the blogosphere roll-up concept.