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« Working out a fair deal for iPod TV | Main | Biz-Tech-News: Headlines 19-Oct-05 »

19 October 2005


Andrew Riley

Andrew Riley from London writes: both business use of blogs and the blogosphere will continue to grow - as both can exist together with businesses being feed by the creative buzz that the blogospere gives. Blogging with its links to podcasting could emerge like music with divisions of what is radical and shocking being absorbed into the general media (and creating changes in attitudes). Businesses will not ignore this, and bloggers will find a way to be different and to use technology to communicate in invigorating ways.


Predicting outcomes is like trying to say which horse will win the Grand National. But some things (trends?) I've noticed:
1. Powerful contra arguments from Nicholas Carr and reasoned invective from Andrew Orlowski have resonance with a lot of people - and not just entrenched media interests.
2. Ray Lane recently characterizing Web 2.0 as consumer on Gillmor Gang podcast. He's not alone.
3. Tom Feremski concerned about the use of 'community' in relation to Web 2.0 and commercialisation.
4. Denton's concerns around big media and the resistance to change.

Once the flacks persuade big media and the advertisers that blogs can be controlled then blogging as we know it today withers. As does podcasting and videocasting. Why? Because there's always another wannabe around the corner looking for personal fame and glory (I'd tell you about the email I get but that would unnecessarily shame the senders.) Blogging is perfect for that kind of promotion. It's also its greatest weakness. When little media gets aggregated into a Gawker, AOL or whatever, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to any ideas around personal glory.

In any event, none of this is micro-branding. Sounds sexy but it's BS. In reality it's targeted marketing - every ad man's wet dream. Provided these sites are supported by top quality content, then it represents a disintermediation of tradtional media for sure. But all that does is move the goalposts over to the online media aggregators. With all the attendant control baggage. It doesn't make commercial sense to insist otherwise.

No predictions there you understand, just my 2€/$/£ worth.


Good points of view, Dennis. I'm always trying to predict the Grand National winner ;)

All this talk about Web 2.0 is well and good but just look at what's actually happening now. Weblogs Inc and AOL clearly believe an opportunity is there for the making of, so to speak, and they're going for it. Will it be sustainable and long term, or short lived? Who knows. Gawker and VNU? Who really knows. They're all making predictions.

Flacks may persuade big media and the advertisers that blogs can be controlled. Like the Grand National, it's purely someone's prediction and unlikely to turn out that way at all. Yes, some blogs and online properties may be controlled but the nature of the larger beast is such that it's not controllable. It's a bit like chaos theory really. I don't believe for a second that blogging will whither. It will evolve.

Micro-branding, targeted marketing, micro publishing... Add another one, a name du jour here in The Netherlands: nano publishing. But who cares what label anyone gives to it?

Whatever you call it, it's all to do with content and connecting. In the case of 'little media' Weblogs Inc, that's what they have judging by their own numbers, in terms of current ad revenue and site visits. Of course it's appealing to advertisers, and 'big media' who see an opportunity.

I'd say the market will decide whether such groupings will work or not. What's wrong with that?


Should have made myself totally clear - blogging per se won't wither, but the commercial blogs, whether aggregated under a Gawker or under a brand like AOL will more likely be controlled. Commercially, it's great for the ad game I guess. For the consumer? Concentrated blipvertising will need to be handled with extreme caution. Particularly for Gen Y types.

There's another issue tied to this. Big media still thinks in big media terms. It won't for instance link to sites where there are competitive commercial interests.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Web 2.0 types do well, especially as they deliver a lot of 'goodness.' But creeping comercialisation taints every technology trend.

There is another, not so obvious issue here. Many VCs on Sandy Hill Road have money burning a hole in their pockets as funds come up for redemption. They either hand back, or continue to skim their 2-3% annually. And as Ray Lane says - only 1-100 bets make a serious play. We talk about Moreover but when it was sold, it barely returned the original investment. There's a fair few pigs out there that 'look' like they've been painted with lipstick. Technorati is one. Is there any business model in sight here? I hadn't heard it taking on charitable status.

I'm sure that Jason Calacanis will be hoping AOL will allow him to get more blogs going. And no doubt AOL will want to commercialize them. The interests are not always mutually compatible. Because in AOL's case, it's got to do something in a market where it is marching time. That's not an argument for investing in Weblogs Inc, but it is an arugment for survival. The tow are not the same. If Calcanis truly believes the model is viable, then he'd surely have got loot from the Valley. Google has only just gone public and it managed to get money.

It seems to me, regardless of what anyone says, the case for scaling commercially oriented blogs has yet to be made. So I'm not getting that excited. Yet. And neither are those who are paying for the pleasure.

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