Lots of chatter in the blogosphere about whether blogs are dead, whether blogs can ever achieve anything, whether blogs will mean the death of civilization as we know it, whether my blog can beat up your blog, and so on – all of which was sparked by this article in Slate magazine.
The point of the piece seems to be that blogs as a business, in terms of making money and being acquired, is over. Fair enough. As many have pointed out, however – including my friends Tris Hussey, Mark Evans and Rob Hyndman, as well as Steve Borsch, Dan Gillmor and Steve Rubel – there is a lot more going on than Slate seems to think. Whether it’s “monetizable” or not (and how) remains to be seen.
I find it interesting that only a couple of people, including Rob, Paul Kedrosky and Munir at Blogging Journalist have mentioned an even more in-depth look at how blogs aren’t all they’ve been cracked up to be, which appeared in the Financial Times (written by Trevor Butterworth, who as Paul points out has a name that is almost too British to be believed), under the headline “Time for the last post.” In it, he quotes Choire Sicha (ex of Gawker and now at the New York Observer) as saying blogs are essentially a waste of time and accomplish little.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The word blogosphere has no meaning,” he said from across a folding table vast enough to support the battle of Waterloo in miniature (the apartment owes much to eBay, the Ikea of bohemia). Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is no sphere; these people arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t connected; they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have anything to do with each other.” The democratic promise of blogs, he explained, has just produced more fragmentation and segregation at a time when seeing the totality of things – the purview of old media – is arguably much more important.”
It’s fine to say – as the article does – that blogs aren’t a revolution, won’t kill the “dinosaurs” of old media, and other lame truisms. But Sicha’s point is a different one: that blogs are bad because they fragment things, that they aren’t connected the way they pretend to be, and that old media needs to be there to “see the totality of things.” As tied to the early success of Gawker as he might have been, this shows that Sicha never really got it to begin with. Do there need to be aggregators or filters or sources that coalesce some of the fragmentation that democracy brings? Yes. Does that have to be “old media?” No. Sicha and others are short-changing themselves and others with their narrow-minded views.