Louis Gray is rightfully pissed off at the way Mashable, a major tech blog, did not properly handle some stories written by Gray. Basically they under-attributed Gray’s reporting of Robert Scoble’s PodTech departure. I’m not familiar enough with Mashable to know if Gray is reasonable to suggest that they’ve built the whole site on this type of secondary reporting, but I certainly agree that blogs are now doing what mainstream media has done for decades – sacrificing good quality reporting in the interest of monetization. Also I think the great and thoughful voices of several big blogs have been largely replaced by marginal writers and writing as those sites struggle to become “media companies”.
Another defect of the new web is that linking practices and linking strategy have become very critical to success – A list sites simply don’t link out appropriately because they (correctly) view their links as valuable and (incorrectly) choose not to give that value away.
Matt’s got a good post on this story, noting how attribution is a cornerstone of good journalism and Mashable and others should do a better job of attribution, though I’m not clear if Matt would agree that insufficient linking is part of opportunistic linking strategies more than journalistic oversight:
I wrote over there:
…. but monetization is trumping journalism all over the place and I think the blog community should think about this a lot more than we do.
I don’t know about Mashable’s practices, but often it is marginally paid and marginally talented writers who feed the big blogs that originally had really thoughtful voices.
Also, natural linking has effectively become a “web currency” and many “A list” sites are very reluctant to link to sites outside of their frames of reference – I believe they see it as too big of a favor where even 5 years back it would have been done without a second thought.
I see this as a growing problem with many large, heavily monetized tech blogs. They are (slowly) trading profit concerns for journalism and web concerns. An inevitable thing, but a bad one
I even see B list blogs withholding links. I’m not sure if they get too busy and forget to link out or to accredit their sources, or if they just suddenly get arrogant and feel that it’s no longer necessary now that they’ve reached some plateau of success. I’d like to see A list bloggers do more to promote up-and-comers, share with readers what blogs they read by reinstating blogrolls, and just generally continue to build community. However, it looks unlikely at this point.
Melissa I agree, and it would be neat if the “A list” was more generous rather than competitively focusing on building their communities to the exclusion of smaller sites.
The solution? I think we need a sort of “blog guild” where people do their own thing at their own blogs/sites, but then have extensive cross pollination with others. TechMeme and Technorati help facilitate this because they basically pull together the blogs talking about the same stuff. What I’d like to see are people steering away from single site “communities” and towards a global blogging community that is stitched together via Open Social or other portable ID features that move around as the person surfs around.
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“A list” sites are very reluctant to link to sites outside of their frames of reference.
Good point, but not sure “frame of reference” describes the problem. More like “outside of their cyber-country club” or something. Duck for the blogging-Peoples front!
Serio, it’s akin to the situation faced by the talented losers doing property hustles in Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross: the Ed Harris character turn cynics, and realizes that the real estate market (if not laissez-faire economics) depends on insider connections, family connections, country-club connections. I think it’s the same in most computing situations and even trickles down to blogs.
Harris wants to be the hip progressive, yet the game doesn’t allow for that: it needs, indeed, depends upon sharks (and the alternative to sharkocracy, e.g socialism of various sorts, demands far too much). Or something like dat. Blogs then might be read as symbols of the absurdities of laissez-faire and consumerism itself.