I’ve written more than a couple of unkind, some would say uneducated things, about the blogosphere in my time, which I’m sure I’ll write about all over again, now that I’m “outside of the firewall” as Mark Jones puts it.
I tend to equate the blogosphere to the coffee houses of past decades, where the intelligentsia would sit about philosophising about all things great and small. While a lot of great ideas, movements, etc came out of that culture for the most part it was insular and so is the blogosphere. Collective intellectual masturbation, might be another way of describing it.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing (you know you do it). In fact I think the “conversation” (which I personally think would be a much better collective noun than the awful blogosphere phrase) is an amazing things. But few of my peers in the mainstream media are really shaking in their boots over the likely impact that all this blogging, in its current iteration is going to have on their businesses.
I read an interesting article today on VentureBlog called Where’s the Money in The Long Tail? which posits that content aggregation and filtering is where the money is at. The thing that is inherent to the long tail, though, is the value of the content. Amazon, Netflix, etc have great long tail prospects because even when you get down to niche tastes/interests the content (ie music, films, books) is still of high quality.
When it comes to web content, a lot of your niche content is still shithouse. If it wasn’t big media houses would be packing themselves. If every journalist got up and packed up their desk and went and started professionally blogging on their particular niche’s of interest, you’d instanty transform the blogosphere into a thriving, dynamic organism that would have the mainstream media companies washing out the collective brown stain in their underpants.
The problem, of course, is journalists get paid a lot more money working for the man and writing about the things that the man thinks are important (ie what will generate revenue). Consequently, most quality content on the Internet is focused around mainstream media hot buttons and not disparate, niche topics of interest.
And the blogosphere isn’t all that different – the tech blogosphere is dynamic, interesting, vibrant, but once you start veering off to other niche areas, the ‘conversation’ is far less compelling. Sure, there are random, quality blogs on all matters of subjects, but you don’t get that quality of conversation that you do in the tech or politics space. Is it little wonder that memeorandum hasn’t branched off into other areas?
What the blogosphere/internet needs is a much bigger, wagging, long-tail. Because there’s little point in aggregating or filtering dull, non-credible content. For that to happen, there needs to be a better revenue model behind blogs, so that more journalists/content experts/enthusiasts will devote more of their time to blogging and creating quality content. I’ll make that the subject of tomorrow’s blog.