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The Meaning of Being Bearish on Blogs is....


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July 03, 2006

The Meaning of Being Bearish on Blogs is....

Heather Green

I skimmed David Carr's column in the NYTimes about Nick Denton entitled "A Blog Mogul Turns Bearish on Blogs" trying to understand the meaning of the headline. What part of blogging is Gawker Media's Denton bearish about?

Frankly, I am still not sure. Is he bearish about blogs getting funding? We might think that this is the thrust of the story, since the writer sets up his story by opening it at a recent PaidContent party in NYC, which apparently was swarmed by media upstarts and money types.

Or is Carr saying that Nick Denton is bearish about blogs as a publishing medium? That also may be the case, since Carr quotes Denton saying that " 'the world does not need more blogs,' adding that if you count all the pages on MySpace, 'there is approximately one reader for every blog out there.' "

Either we have a headline writer problem here or a writer problem. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was interesting reading about Denton's strategies for refreshing his blogs. But without any clarification, I suppose I will vote for thinking that Denton is down on funding blogs, since Carr writes a business column.

What's your vote?

P.S. and Update: Rex Hammock has a great post on this and he sums up exactly my feeling about talking about bubbles and blogs--when it comes to making money. Sorry if I am repeating myself, but I remain convinced that the destabilizing nature of blogs (and personal media writ large) won't be the creation of a group of huge new media companies (a la Gawker) that displace the traditional ones. The real power is how personal media fragments the mass market audience by turning readers, watchers, listeners, into writers and video and audio creators. Most of these folks won't make money and it won't matter.

09:46 AM

blog business

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? Headscratching in the Blogosphere from J. LeRoy's Evolving Web

This may be the best blog conversation I've ever read.David Carr has a piece in the New York Times today entitled A Blog Mogul Turns Bearish on Blogs. The piece is largely about Nick Denton, an entrepeneur who has made [Read More]

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? Nick Denton Bearish on Blogs from Jimmy Daniels

I saw the original article on the NYTimes, and was just looking at the News.com copy of it, and I still can?? really fiugure out why he?? bearish, the only thing he mention that stands out is this quote,

He has felt the touch of clammy hand... [Read More]

Tracked on July 5, 2006 05:13 PM

The other thing all this changes is, the nature of the writing. 20 years ago, if you were a cartoonist [like me] and wanted to be successful, you had to get in the New Yorker or in with a Syndicate (or whatever big media company suited your talent the best)... and of course, you had to sign a contract. Written by them. Their rules, not yours.

But with a blog, where someone like me can publish anything I want, when I want, and get good money by doing it... the traditional media simply don't have the same sway over people wanting their voice to be heard (often a much bigger motivation than the money).

It's great living in a world were there are no rejection slips, no waiting for the agent to phone back, no waiting for the publisher to give you the greenlight. But I think it also greatly threatens the people who spent all that time and energy getting published or produced by third parties (magazines, newspapers, publishers or whatever), for it devalues their status within the hierarchy.

Nick seems very adept at navigating between both worlds effortlessly.

Posted by: hugh macleod at July 3, 2006 02:07 PM

NYT and other prior gatekeepers regularly see their credibility undermined by the wider and fresher range of perspectives available in weblogs. The theme "bearish on weblogs" would be a natural one in their internal conversations, and also seems an institutionally useful idea to program into their audience's thoughts.

I agree with you, though, I don't see how pulling back on certain titles translates into general pessimism on the whole delivery format. Maybe the reporter was referring to Denton's thoughts on the business opportunities for new commercial weblogs.

Posted by: John Dowdell at July 3, 2006 03:29 PM

He's bearish yet he's only selling two websites that nobody wants to buy.

Posted by: PJ at July 3, 2006 04:35 PM

My gut reaction to this is to side with Nick Denton. He seems to be opposed to exhibitionistic narcissist blogs, and I hate them, too. From narcissist blogging to naked photo blogging is a very tiny step to many.

As in the foul MySpace toilet.

The blogosphere has indeed become the "bloatosphere". There are way too many irrelvant, mypoic blogs. And 90% or more are pure boring nonsense, trivial chump buckets of slop.

As the blogosphere fills up with more and more worthless blogs, the overall quality and reliability of the blogosphere as a whole declines. I'll credit Seth Godin with advancing this concept about a year or more ago.

Like what happened with FM radio and TV, 55 channels of garbage or mindless mediocrity, the same old sitcoms, the same 30 songs played over and over ad nauseum.

However, I do champion the rise of individual voice against the MSM information hegemony.

Too many blogs? Yes. But I am happy to see even the boring drivel blogs keep at it, ppl expressing whatever, and the public moving more and more to the internet, with some quality, unfiltered, unedited journalism and creative writing.

I wonder why business wants to do an ROI on blogs. Has Business Week done any analysis on the "profitability" of this Blogspotting blog lately?

To me, you might as well question the ROI of company picnics, business cards, or new office carpet.

A blog is something a company should do, mainly to demonstrate a desire to connect with customers on a candid, honest, sincere, and lively basis.

Posted by: steven e. streight aka vaspers the grate at July 3, 2006 08:28 PM

Steven, you say that the blogsophere "fills up with more and more worthless blogs." And you say that 90% or more are boring nonsense.

My objections: First, of all, the blogosphere isn't filling up. It's never full. There's no case that I know of where a bunch of boring, nonsensical blogs interfere with the ones I want to read. If you were talking about a library or a bookstore with limited shelves, I could see your argument. But the bad stuff doesn't weigh down the good.

Second, despite what Seth says, the blogosphere itself should never be regarded as a single source, reliable or unreliable. It's lots of sources, some of them reliable, some not.

If you go out on the street and hear "people" saying stupid things, are you going to think: they should stop, because the reliability of the person in the street is going to decline...? I for one would simply conclude that I've been listening to the wrong people, and I wouldn't necessarily indict the street.

As far as BW's ROI on this blog... It's awfully hard to quantify how much of our work goes into it, and what it's worth. There's a certain branding value, but also the value of what we learn and the contacts we make. That benefits the various versions of the magazine. Whatever the ROI was last year, it's probably higher this year, because one half of the blogging team here (me) isn't drawing a salary at BW.

Posted by: steve baker at July 4, 2006 10:16 AM

I would imagine you can do what I did at Grey Advertising, keep a record of how much time you spend on a project, like this blog.

But thanks for taking on that ROI question, because I keep hearing blog consultants talk about convincing clients to blog, and trying to prove that measureable monetary results are forthcoming.

A company should blog, not to increase profits, but to increase good will, learn from customers, show diplomacy toward flamers, and prove that they really care about suggestions, complaints, and questions from the public.

Posted by: steven vaspers streight the grate at July 5, 2006 11:46 PM

No matter how you look at it there will always

be a good and an evil. It really depends where you are standing to see the lesser.

The world is developing and new ways to promote

will become known and enter the mainstream.Then taking it into a paid structure.

I think there is no purpose for getting upset for something that already is. Do not put more energy

into it and feed the "problem".

Catch it before it becomes and you will be ahead.

Bear it for now....technology and the media always change.

-Maker Money

Posted by: Maker Money at February 4, 2007 09:57 PM


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