Last year, I read a book called Blog by Hugh Hewitt. Never mind that his views are very right of center and most examples in his book are based on issues that, at the time, I fundamentally disagreed with. However, the essense of his book was that the power of Internet blogging is such that it will eventually cause the main-stream media to slip, tumble and crash. I bought the book hoping for a unbiased opinion and insight into the blogging phenomenon, and its social and economic effects. The book disappointed me thoroughly. It did however, make an interesting point in that the power of publishing has finally come to the common man (well, if one can count owning a PC, Internet connection, and sufficient know-how a common phenomenon across the world). He is, for the most part right. The history of publishing, from the invention of the printing press to the blog, shows a marked democratization of the process. This much is irrefutable. But Hewitt’s claim that it will cause the toppling of the elite, liberal (read: left-leaning), powerful, money-making machine that is the main-stream media, was very far fetched. I do love a consipracy theory as much as the next person, but this claim of Hewitt’s, I could not quite fathom. I was, however, convinced about the power of a personal publishing platform. The ‘blog’ is only a tool that enables it. It will only be a matter of time before the next big fad/technology will replace the blog as the means for personal publishing. For those who are still unconvinced about the immense power wielded by an unwieldy bunch of writiers pecking away at a keyboard into late hours (take a look at the time of most of my posts), there a numerous stories of how the powers to be were brought to their knees by bloggers. John Kerry, IIPM, and Trent Lott are just a few examples that jump to mind.
There are plenty of blogs that have made it big. ‘Big’ is defined as having the most number of incoming links, plenty of visitors, and tons of money in ad revenue. Examples can be found everywhere on the Internet. But what I find interesting now is that some quarters are proclaiming a death-knell for blogs. The New York Magazine has a highly readable article on the issue. The WSJ has a good article too, but I will not link to it because article are only free for a few days. But the author, Jason Fry, makes a point that echos my view very well. He says, “My bet: Within a couple of years blogging will be a term thrown around loosely — and sometimes inaccurately — to describe a style and rhythm of writing, as well as the tools to publish that writing.”
The disturbing point that the New York Magazine’s Clive Thompson makes is that blogs are being snapped up the same main-stream media that once feared and dreaded The Lone Blogger. Duh! Ofcourse they are. Power is always where the money is. And since blogs have proved that they can support a revenue model, it is only natural that the main-stream media will move there, albiet a bit late. Hewitt was talking hogwash in his book. He runs a syndicated radio show that I’m sure is very much part of the media that he abhores.
In all the talk about A-, B- and C-list bloggers that are trying to make it big, everyone seems to have forgotten the blogger who blogs just because. All those on my blogroll are close friends. None of them have aspirations of making it as an A-list blogger and making millions like Engadget’s Peter Rojas did when Weblogs, Inc. was sold to AOL in a $25 million deal. We blog because we can. Because we like to. Because we enjoy it. It gives us a perverse sense of pleasure in knowing that ours in one in 29 million blogs (according to Technorati’s front page at the time of this posting) that can be accessed by anyone, anytime, anywhere. It makes us happy when someone comments on our blog. We feel likfe we’ve maybe, just for a second, been able to get someone else to see things the way we do. It is the power that comes with this feeling that will always keep blogging alive for so many of us who are even under the C-list.