Monday, 20 February 2006

Is blogging really over?

According to blogger Hog on Ice blogging is "over" -- it's over, do you hear! According to the Hog the Internet has become so congested it is "no longer a meritocracy."
In a market where not much is available, merit matters, because everyone is aware of the products that exist. People can compare the products and make choices based on quality. In a congested market, that doesn't work. You need help to get your product noticed. People end up choosing products that are well-known. Quality, by itself, is worthless.
I have to say respectfully that Hog on Ice is wrong. What he describes as signs of its end is simply bewailing change as the situation matures; what he cites as cyanosis are just indications that the blog 'market' is maturing, and as with all maturing markets eventually a few big blocs will likely come to prominence for many different reasons, and as do they such things as clearing houses for information, groups of like-minded bloggers andmarks of quality will become important.

When too much information abounds in the real world, the mature market provides clearing houses of information to filter it for us. As the Hog says, you need help to get your product noticed, but so too do consumers need help to choose their purchase. When there's demand, there is eventually a supply. In the mature market of the real world we have the Michelin Guide, the Conde Nast Guide, the Good Eating Guide, the Let's Go and Lonely Planet Guides, and consumer magazines and organisations of all stripes offering advice and guidance on what to buy, where to eat, where to go, and what you should do when you get there. These consumer guides themselves must of course pass muster in the market, and around the successful guides 'blocs' or groups of businesses form that rely heavily on the traffic created by their rating in in the guide.

As in the real world, so eventually I would suggest in the blogosphere. One successful blogging 'bloc' here in NZ is obviously the political blogs that refer daily to Blog Central, David Farrar's Kiwiblog, and in turn are referred to by it. It's a very loose informal grouping generated largely by daily use, and at present it's a highly successful one for all involved. If a reader wants to get a heads up on daily politics in NZ, Kiwiblog is generally a good place to start every day.

An example of an unsuccessful 'bloc' has apparently just folded, or is in the process of going belly up, and Hog on Ice cites it as evidence of the overripe blogosphere. Pajamas Media (PJM) was a formal collection of blogs with a $7 million startup fund that intended to revolutionise blogging, and set up those who joined the PJM bloc as part of an advertising and news-reporting behemoth. Reported the New York Sun in May last:

The venture will be called Pajamas Media, a not-so-subtle reference to the September remarks of a CNN executive, Jonathan Klein, who said a typical blogger has "no checks and balances" and is just "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas."

...The idea of Pajamas Media is to use an extensive network of globally affiliated blogs to provide first-person, in-depth coverage of most major news events, including both camera and video footage...

Iowahawk had a pithier view at its initiation of the venture whose time has come and now almost gone. A PJM 'death pool' blog is now taking bets on when PJM will collapse completely. Hog on Ice is right that PJM was "a bad idea." As one who was approached to join the "extensive network of globally affiliated blogs" but who read the proposal and turned it down, it was clear that PJM was based on a bad business model. But to declare that because PJM is dead or dying then therefore "blogging is dead" or that such blog aggregations are not likely to be sucessful in the future is trying to make much too much stew from one bad onion.

The challenge in any mature market is to meet the market as it matures. By year's end the shape and substance of the blogosphere may well have changed beyond recognition -- maybe -- but to say that blogging is "over" is just insupportable on the evidence. The lesson for bloggers: Grow up.

Should You Stay or Should You Go? - Hog on Ice [Hat tip, somebody who'd rather not be linked]
Three political blogs make a run for the mainstream - New York Sun
The blockbuster OSM deal: what you need to know - Iowahawk
PJM Death Pool blog


  1. Well the Pajamas Media experience is interesting.

    There was a lot of bad air towards them early on, from the likes of Jeff Jarvis (a self-appointed media critic prick who blogs at Buzzmachine), Ann Althouse, etc.

    Some of the bad air was caused by the screwup over the name (Open Source Media) and changes in direction of the whole idea, but there was a large amount of pettiness prompted by retracted invitations to bigger bloggers, including one nutto who decided to cyber stalk Roger L. Simon (one of the founders).

    But Pajamas has the most important thing going for it: popular content producers. Still, their business model escapes me. But the opportunity for them to extract more value of out member bloggers content does still exist.

    I have ideas on what they should do, but I won't post them here ;-)

  2. I believe I heard the same thing, when non-academics & geeks started to use the internet

    Back in the days when dial-up cost $50+/month, it only worked 4-5 days in the week and you got 2 meg bandwith, additional at $2.00/meg


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