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There's no such thing as the blogosphere? A response


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February 18, 2006

There's no such thing as the blogosphere? A response

Stephen Baker

Former Gawker blogger Choire Sicha says that there is no such thing as the blogosphere. "These people aren?? connected; they don't have anything to do with each other."

Well, that's just not true. Even before the Internet, we were connected. Now we're more so. Sure, we only read a tiny fraction of the blogs out there, but that doesn't mean we're not connected. If a storm breaks out in one corner of the blog world, others feel its effect. Maybe I'm a sucker for chaos theory, but for me, the blogosphere is like global weather. With each post, we're all contributing to breezes and eddies, high and low pressure systems. Occasionally we can stir up tornados.

06:59 AM

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Hi Stephen,

You are right to bring this one up I think. I think the article in the FT which is essentially the source to what I suspect will be quite a flurry once the blogosphere (if it exists?! ;)) gets a hold on it.

See the article http://news.ft.com/cms/s/384be1be-9eb1-11da-ba48-0000779e2340.html

... as well as the blog set up by the FT journalist Trevor Butterworth. http://ftmagblog.blogspot.com/

I think the article (a long bugger!) has some very interesting points but that it essentially also omits the gist of blogging.

The arguments I (partly) agree with:

- Zombie blogs / i.e. the hugely fragmented blogosphere is a problem for those blogs who really have a message and who are essentially serious about blogging. (For Trevor?) For me this translates into the fact that there much noice concerning communication in the blogosphere and that it in the end is potentially not worth the trouble.

- Bloggers make no money; who can disagree with this!? But then again, how many bloggers are in it for the money?

Where I disagree ...

- I think Trevor is very wrong when he desribes the blogosphere as one entity. With 27,2 million blogs out there there are bound to be people with different interests and as a consequence different communities which may or may not flourish in their own right and life.

- I alos disagree with his main argument or should I say main perspective; i.e. blogging is not about to take over main stream media. Of course it is not but blogging has an interactive format which main stream media can only dream of. On the same note I think he dileberately omits talking about corporate blogging because this is exactly a phenomenon where traditional media/pr/marketing is merging with the distinct nature and offers of blogging; I guess the Businessweek blogs are as good an epitomy of this than any other blog.

and thus ends my 50 cents ... :)will be looking forward to hear other's.

Claus V.

Posted by: claus vistesen at February 18, 2006 03:18 PM

I understand the points being made in the FT piece but I fundamentally disagree.

THE BLOGOSPHERE EXISTS...

There is a Blogosphere. It is a media space. It is a room full of conversation.

There are many such rooms. Wherever there is community there is such a space.

The Blogosphere just happens to be the fastest evolving space we have ever seen, and therefore the most visible, due to the technology available.

The Blogosphere is a special space we have not seen before. Content without any control.

What the internet was always described as being has become technologically simplified so as to enable 8 years olds and 88 year olds to join in.

And to think we thought the WWW was information overload.

MY KINGDOM FOR AN EDITOR...

Blogging will not replace much of Main Stream Media (MSM). News and financial information needs editorial credibility which blog brands will struggle to provide.

The role of established publishers and editors is therefore more, not less, valuable.

If MSM make the right moves then it can benefit massively from the content revolution taking place.

Equally we will see some MSM brands make huge mistakes.

THE EVOLUTION WILL BE BLOGGED...

Blogs are to the web what magazines were to print publishing. Did the newspapers survive? Of course. Will MSM survive? Of course. Blogging is all about niches and the content long tail. MSM cannot compete with blogging when it comes to niches.

Unless...

A MSM brand goes long-tail on content...but that is risky and no MSM player with ad revenue as a core revenue generator could dare risk that kind of chaos.

There is only one MSM brand that could do it. Three letters that make me proud to be a Brit:

B. B. C.

GUTENBERGS NOT SCRIPTORIA...

The Beeb seem to want everyone involved as readers and writers. The more crossover the merrier. They see themselves, and rightly so, as the British Broadcasting Corporation. Not just as broadcasters but as facilitators of broadcasting.

...AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS

And that, in the end, is the dismal fate of blogging: it renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts - a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news.

There can be no obsolescence in a world where all content is but one click away from any serious search engine. Dormancy yes but obsolescence no.

Like chaotic eddies ebbing and flowing with no discernible patterns. Drifting in and out of vision. Just because they cannot be seen or heard does not mean they are not there.

Namaste

Al

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Posted by: Matthew at February 18, 2006 11:56 PM

What you say about Sicha may be correct, Steve. But I'd be interested to know your take on the bigger message of the FT piece this weekend, i.e. that the blog phenomenon may be far far less of a threat to mainstream media than we had thought. It's certainly helping to keep MSM on its toes. I thought it was a smart piece.

Posted by: JR at February 19, 2006 10:39 AM

There are ecosystems within the larger sphere though, right? What's a "tornado" to my limited number of subscribers might be barely a breeze outside that sphere, and is undetectable to readers of blogs in a different ecosystem. Is it helpful to think of blog participation in a series of "microspheres" as being more significant / impactful than their membership in a single blogosphere?

Posted by: John at February 19, 2006 01:43 PM

Actually, you are all only existing within the worlds of each other.

To the outside world, you don't even exist.

Posted by: Alex Grogan at February 21, 2006 10:33 AM

I definitely agree that this is an interesting piece. The idea that the article only talks about briefly, but which I think is the real disrupter to traditional media is the fragmentation that comes from blogging. But I think when we mean blogging, we mean user generated content writ large. So blogs, sure, but podcasts, online video, social networks, aggregation services like Digg and memeorandum.

All provide new ways for people to spend their time, undercutting the time they spent in the past with traditional media. In some cases, what they're watching is more informative than traditional media, but in other cases it isn't. But that doesn't matter. Is there a bubble about all this? I think so, but just like the Internet bubble, that doesn't undercut the fact that there is something real going on here that will have a long-term impact.

Posted by: Heather Green at February 21, 2006 11:12 AM

JR, I look at blogs as another 27 million interconnected windows on the world. I don't they will replace MSM. But they're already affecting it, making media more interactive, more user driven, etc. And certain fragments of the blog world are already becoming mainstream.

Posted by: steve baker at February 21, 2006 05:17 PM

I remember a certain Mrs Thatcher making a similar remark, i.e. no such thing as society and instead it's just individuals and small communities.

Posted by: James Richards at February 22, 2006 04:08 PM


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