Not long ago, I had read an article in a newsweekly magazine, which mentioned some of the more popular Blogs out there. It included mention of some that were getting lots of traffic (and hence revenue too).
One that was mentioned was Wonkette. I went to that site, and enjoyed the witty, sarcastic and biting humor of that team. What I could not find, for the life of me, was a place to comment on any entry.
Eventually, giving up, I wrote to them by email. I did not get a response. I wrote again, and asked, something like, Is this a blog and if so where can I comment. And, I got a short, curt, reply saying that there was no place to comment and they/he/she guessed Wonkette was not a blog.
That got me thinking. (Yes, I know, a dangerous activity).
What exactly is the most common perception of what we Bloggers are as a group? Are we individuals or are we just one small aspect of a whole big media opportunity to control another form of communication with the public?
How important is it for a what most people consider a person's BLOG to be driven by that person (with maybe a few helping hands for HTML, promotion, etc.)?
How essential is reader/writer interaction for a web page or web site of commentaries to be called a Blog? If there is no reader input, no comments area, then, sure, it is still a "web log" of someone, but how different is a site like Wonkette with a team of 15-20 people from an opinion site like a conservative or liberal magazine's web site with 20, 30, or 300 staffers?
Does a Blog not conjure images of us as solo-fliers expressing opinions for all (or no one) to see and read?
Is a Blog still a Blog if 30 people put it together? Should such a site's revenues be considered money going to "bloggers" or to "medium-sized" or big-media?
A good example (though non-Blog example) is Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. She does not have a blog (at least I could not find it) but ype in MaureenDowd.com in your browser and you are taken to the New York Times' site. So, if she wrote a blog, and it generated revenues for the New York Times, is that money considered revenues of "us" bloggers or more money going to big media.
What do you think?
This reminds me of fake grassroots organizations popularly called "astroturf." Corporations would launch campaigns disguised as grassroots initiatives to lobby their issues and get the public on their side. It seems like different entities can use bloggers as a vehicle to push corporate agendas also.
The problem with any good technology or service is that there are also going to be those who will a) either exploit for their own ends (like Bush administration and politicians) and b) just destructive people who are malicious by nature (like those deliberately writing computer viruses, corrupting wikipedia like resources, falsely tagging their pages with irrelevant tags to get traffic, etc.).
This is something that I've been meaning to tackle for a while and I'll eventually get around to it but the short version is although the blogsphere kicks major league ass in terms of embarrassing the hell out of the MSM, the blogopshere can eventually become the very thing they claim to hate about the MSM -- a complicit entity that sold-out to the highest bidder. I recall Ted DiBiase, the old-school WWF wrestler who's gimmick was "Everybody has a price for the Million Dollar Man". Well, the MSM and the Beltway is full of million dollar men who will do the same to some bloggers that they've done to many journalists over the years: if they can't pay off the politicians to shut down the opposition, then they'll simply attempt to pay off/purchase the opposition. It's the old "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Buy Them!" approach.
Ah, I am still waiting for the first $1000 cheque to come in, I will wait for the extra 3-zeros much longer. :-)
But, seriously, you make very valid points.... which would also probably tie right into the debate on the Internet itself and the influence major telecom players will try to wield on it. The Wall Street Journal had a great article on it recently.
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