Sunday, January 16

Insignficance

Wall Street: 'Blogs insignificant' is an nicely-done polemic from David Berlind of Ziff in response to a Wall Street Journal reporter who looked into all the marketing hoopla around podcasting and decided it was a tempest in a teapot. I happen to believe the WSJ guy was right. Here's what I wrote:

What does 'significant' mean, anyway? You focus on the handful of bloggers that have achieved significant traffic on their own. BFD. The real story is not the AUDIENCE for A-List bloggers but the level of PARTICIPATION in blogging by the ordinary schmuck. Blogger, Movable Type, publications like Salon offering blogging tools and space, et al. Blogging won't compete for eyeballs with mass media by going head to head for mass audience. It'll do it by allowing people to develop and serve their own micromarkets: Jeff Jarvis' example is the "all New Jersey high school wrestling channel." That commenter above who mentions his church's blog is onto this, too. As the blogosphere grows, there's more and more likelihood that there are stamp collectors with a passion for Romanian air mail stamps out there blogging. What the blogosphere needs to be 'significant' are public utilities that would make it easy for me to find my fellow Romanian air mail phreaks. The Technorati 100 is a loser. It's an advertising gimmick. But the Technorati search engine is moving in the right direction: I can search for bloggers who write about keywords that lead me to members of my micromarket: "New Jersey" +"wrestling" or "Proust" +"fan club" or "Wiccan" +"nudist" +"stockbroker". Podcasting won't take off if there's no incentive for mobs of people to start getting into it, and the best incentive is the knowledge that if I podcast about the contemporary New York punk rock scene, there's a Web site that can attract users and route the Gotham punkers to me. Blogging will be signficant if it can match readers to writers in micromarkets like these. It's not about being in the Top 10 by blogging about subjects that everyone is talking about. It's about the pleasure of hooking up with kindred souls. Finding one really appreciative reader who corrects your errors and shares your love for the films of Elvis Presley is worth a thousand hits from people who arrive at your site and leave comments like "Dude, this blog sucks!" After all, it's lonely being the only nudist Wiccan stockbroker in my town. Surely there must be others like me?

I said about Blogger Con and I'll say it again: A lot of the pundits who blog about blogging are self-promoting flacks. The best ones, on the other hand, are flacks who promote blogging itself and work to get more people doing it without hyping it.

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