Tuesday, July 04, 2006

credibility of blogosphere

What do you think of when you think of the Blogosphere?

[EDIT UPDATE: go read the Seth Godin quote, that I refer to, on the coming backlash against a non-credible blogosphere.]

Naked sluts and political crazies? Teenage diaries? Mommy bloggers who post photos and information about their babies and where they live and shop? Online predators ala Dateline exposes? Frivolous exhibitionism?

Or do you think of serious business communications, digital penpals sharing an interest in music, or an easy way to publish your art and literature to the web?

What does the general public, or the business community, think of blogs?

I had posted a comment on Heather Green's post in Business Week Blogspotting "The Meaning of Being Bearish about Blogs is..." about Nick Denton's remarks about "too many blogs". My comment ranged over several different topics related to this issue.

Heather Green said:
....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.'

I posted my comment at Heather's post.

Then Stephen Baker zeroed in on my "blogosphere is bloatosphere" remarks in his post "The blogosphere is not 'credible'", where I credit Seth Godin for alerting me to this pollution and dilution of the blogosphere *as a whole*, or as a distinct medium of public, private, and business communication.

Stephen Baker asserts, rightfully, that if you don't like one street in the blogosphere, you can go to another neighborhood. He feels that his favorite blogs are not damaged or degraded by all the whacko blogs out there. This is true, but there is more to the bigger picture.

This is my response:

I agree with you Stephen, that we can bookmark or blogroll a select list of valuable, relevant, quality blogs...and just ignore the bad, boring, or crazy blogs.

My point, inspired by Seth Godin, is this: compare the Blogosphere with FM Radio, or Television, or the Telephone.

Take the phone. Back when I was a kid, when the phone rang, it was generally a good thing. Aunt Mary calling, or a job offer, or some other relevant, useful, positive message was on the line.

Now: when the phone rings, my answering machine takes a message, and 50% or more of the calls are telemarketing, often a pre-recorded message.

A medium can become devalued by the quality of the components which compose it.

Many think: "Blogs? That's those little web things where naughty girls show their bodies and lunatic political pundits spout off about Demopublican policy. Forget it."

As far as entering a whacko block in a neighborhood, you make a good point in my favor: wife and I just bought a bungalow on a quiet street with pretty good neighbors, not a street where hordes of bored teenagers are roaming around, breaking windows, smoking cigarettes, blasting rap or country music at high volume, and saying "What's up?" to passing motorists looking for a house for sale.

Thankfully, about 50-75% of all blogs created are abandoned forever within about 3 months, if I recall the Technorati stats correctly.

Yet, remember, I'm not saying the entire blogosphere is Non-credible, just that most of it is. I also champion the idea of businesses starting a candid two way conversation with customers, via a blog.

And I also champion the boring drivel blogs...as the rise of individual voice against MSM info hegemony. I don't include Business Week in the dreadful Main Stream Media. I consider it to be a Specialty Media.

If the blogosphere contains a large percentage of nudist, private confessional, and political whacko blogs...does this not have an impact on public perception, and business adaptation, of blogs?


Harvey Dog said...

There is a lot of crap out there (in ALL media formats), but that makes finding informative, entertaining blogs that much more valuable and important.

I wonder how much of the public perception of blogs comes from the hysterical coverage by other media sources that feel threatened by "free speech" ie. CNN? Sometimes they seem to imply that 98% of internet / blog surfers are predators of 12 year old girls.

I have met some great people online and read lots of great blogs. I'm not going to let lousy, uninformative, hysterical blogs dissuade me from this valuable information tool, nor should anyone else!

steve baker said...

Now that I think about it, Steven, I think you have a point. My prediction is that a lot of "bloggers" won't call themselves bloggers in coming years. I don't know which ones will drop out, but the category is just too vast for everyone concerned.

And not that I think about it, maybe some of us in the MSM will declare that we're no longer "press."

steven edward streight said...

Stephen: I may have a point, but the more I myself think about it, I wonder what it is.

I mean what can be done? What do I advocate? What are our marching orders? How can this pollution of the bloatosphere be "fixed" or amended?

I don't know. I feel like all I'm doing is wagging my finger at all the naughty and empty bloggers...without offering any solution or remedy.

Thanks for entering into this discussion with me both at your Business Weeek Blogspotting site and here at VtG.

But what do we do?

I guess one reply might be: quit getting all happy when we see the number of blogs escalate.

I'm very perplexed at this point, confounded by my own opinions. I wish I knew what the answer to this problem was.

Just keep on blogging with quality and integrity, and let the dross fall by the wayside, as it eventually shall, hopefully.

SB said...

My prediction: It'll all sort itself out.

People who don't really love blogging, or who aren't getting their expected financial return (if they are doing it for reasons other than love), will quit. The rest will keep plugging away -- good, bad, Demopublican, and ugly.