Friday, December 17, 2004

Blogs And Money

I noticed that Instapundit linked to an interesting piece over at ABC News by Michael Malone about blogs and bloggers. It really is a good article and worth reading, though like Glen I choked when I came to this line:

“You see, the real problem of the blogosphere is not its content, but its structure. That is, it has yet to develop a viable business model. It is essentially a vast global movement of volunteers, most of whom are hoping for some kind of eventual payoff for their noble labors.”

Huh? Am I so far out of the blogging mainstream that I forgot I’m supposed to be motivated by profit? I do it because I enjoy it. I think of money somehow coming my way because of it about the same way I think of discovering an unknown distant relative who died and left me a billion dollars. Which is to say it would be cool, but it doesn’t rise to the level of likelihood that I find it motivating.

Malone seems to have both benefited and been undercut by his deep Silicon Valley exposure. It offers him keen insight into those who truly do pursue blogging for profit (and some do, I just don’t think it’s a very large percentage). Silicon Valley in the 90's was nothing but techies thinking about profiting some way by taking advantage of the latest technology. And that’s the reason his article is worth reading. Confining his point to only those kind of blogs, he’s right on target – with the current analysis anyway. His speculation about where things will end up, I’d take with a large grain of salt.

But like so many media commentators on the blogosphere, he confuses the medium with those who use it. Coming from a Big Journalism background, he looks to the blogosphere and sees only blogs devoted to conventional journalism. In light of the last election, why not? They were hugely significant. But they were also just a tiny sliver of those now over five million blogs Technorati claims now exist.

I think a far more coherent picture of the nature of the blogosphere has been described by Hugh Hewitt with the phrase “circle of influence.” Blogs strive for this – not all for the same reason or in the same way of course. Some approach it the same way a J-school grad might. Others like a grassroots campaign organizer. But most are just people who have something to say, and would like to share it with like minded people.

As I read this article, I couldn’t help thinking of our blogger gatherings at Keegan’s. This strikes a lot closer to home when it comes to why I like blogging. Why do bloggers who read each others blogs like getting together in places like that? To talk about the technical ins and outs of doing a blog? Not as far as I've seen. I've seen that it's simply fun socializing with people you have a lot in common with. Outside of blogging itself, bloggers find lots of things in common with one another; from politics, to religion, to sports, to almost any other hobby you can name.

Hey, if any of you want to shower money my way so I can do nothing but blog for a living, please feel free. But don't let the fact that I haven't developed a "viable business model" for my blog keep you up at night worrying about my impending ruin.

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