Nick Carr is usually insightful over at Rough Type, but he’s missed the point of blogging if he thinks the best of the medium is behind us. On the contrary I think the real promise of blogging – as well as the web in general – is yet to come.
Why are the rumors of the death of the blogosphere greatly exaggerated even while the medium is still improving? Because things are not happening in the structured way articulate and/or elite information folks often prefer.
Rather we see regular folks sharing their observations, sometimes in inspired ways but often just as part of a growing amateur and untuned symphony of insights. Although it is *certainly* true to note how much more crappy material there is out there than there was a few years ago before blogging went “mainstream”, it’s also true there is much more good material – it’s just become harder to find.
The good stuff is now distributed across such a large space and within massive comment streams that we need to build better blog search rather than a big blog mortuary.
I think folks like Nick are also correctly noting that the big blogs – thanks to big money – have become much worse because they now pander to large audiences with a lot of fluff pieces and filler. Often the original writers with unique and interesting voices are eclipsed at their own blogs by hired hacks who offer either quirky irrelevant views or inferior insights to the original. Part of the problem here is that writing has become commoditized at money blogs such that the spoils are reserved for the owners not the current writers. Ergo, formerly first class blog writing becomes…second class.
These speed bumps in my view will ultimately work themselves out and we’ll see the “real” voices (Nick Carr’s blog above is a great example) gradually gain more of a following at the expense of those who simply push out more information for the sake of a larger footprint. For me, blogs that have lost their appeal even as they gained in theoretical “valuations” were Searchblog by John Battelle and TechCrunch by Mike Arrington. Both remain “good” sources of information with “good” writing, but before these were *great* blogs with great new insider voices. I think this is the problem Nick and many others are worried about without justification. On TV you can only change the channel so many times before you are back at the same old junk. On the internet there are more channels than minutes in a lifetime.
Sure, as more people blog, there is more fluff out there, but it can still be so helpful and entertaining once you find the right bloggers. When I blogged about quitting smoking I made friends who were fellow bloggers doing the same that were better than any support group. Some tended to post things about the prescription most of us were taking, some stuck mostly to personal experience, others pointed to the experts, and we each read what we liked, and many of us are here on the other side well over a year quit. And still blogging. About whatever other interests. There is still plenty of brilliant writing out there along with the fluff, and even some of the fluff is a nice diversion, too.
Right on Maggie. The best thing about blogging is that it’s connecting so many of us and creating a public square to share information in helpful ways.
Although I also think blogging has a big role to play with news and reporting I think the socializing aspects are the most important and most interesting things about blogs.
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I agree with your comments about originality of thought.
Over the last few weeks, I have been trying to put a finger on what it is that makes keep going back to certain blogs in different fields over and again, after several years, when some others (even some very successful ones as you mention) wane with the passage of time. The answer was ‘original, insightful thinking’.
With that in mind, it won’t matter if the blogger posts on his own blog, a hosted service or even for a major media site, as long as I can grab just his or her feed.
It will also be interesting to see what happens to the debate in comments, as you say.
By the way, Aaron Wall, one of the bloggers I follow who I find has remained original, pointed me here with a link in his latest post. Thanks.
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