Conversational Manifesto Update

I’ve continued to subtract and add to my blogroll as I put into action my conversational manifesto.  I’ve found some good new blogs, and I’ve dropped a lot of blogs that seem to talk at you and not with you.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there.

TDavid has a very interesting post today on the conversational blogosphere.  He makes some good points that I’d like to respond to.

He gives a pretty accurate summary of the Web 2.0 movement, in which so-called companies try to get traffic by giving stuff away in the hopes that either Google or some clever VC will monetize that traffic for them.  The biggest mistake Web 2.0 made was the de facto requirement that everything be free.  It turns web sites into billboards and results in an upside down measuring stick by which the cost side of the balance sheet, traffic and use, is hailed as a worthy substitute for the revenue side and traffic matters much more than the prospects of the application that draws the traffic.

It would be hard to create a more upside down business plan.  It will work for some, the way the lottery works for some.  But it will fail for the vast majority.

TDavid’s not very excited about my archive search capabilities here at Newsome.Org- and I can’t argue with a thing he says about it.  I used to use a Perl script to do searches, but I dumped that in favor of Google.  I’d welcome any suggestions for a better search platform.  Once I find a better search approach, I’ll move the search box up.  Stuff like this is exactly why I enjoy blogging.  You never know how something you create works until people other than you try it out.

He also makes a very good point about blogs that are designed to make money- that some of them are very good, notwithstanding their purpose.  He cites Lifehacker and Download Squad as two such blogs.  I agree and would add TV Squad and Techdirt to that list.  I am a huge fan of Techdirt.  Having said that, while some are closer than others, I don’t really view those sites as blogs.  They use blogging platforms for content management, and they are interactive- but I see those sites as more of a new media news site or magazine than a blog.  For me a blog is, ultimately, a way to engage in distributed conversations with others.  Or maybe a way to exercise your writing skills- as TDavid suggests.  It might be splitting hairs- and by no means am I discounting the value of those sites.  They just aren’t traditional blogs in the way I think of blogs.

The problem with many money-oriented blogs is that, because they are selling something- be it an idea or an ad- they aren’t interested in entertaining the other side of the argument.  It you try to engage them on the issues that they hope or believe will make them money, they simply ignore you.  Which, at least in my mind, validates the other side of the argument.  It’s fine to use the blogosphere as a flea market to try and make a quick buck, but if you are going to claim to be a citizen of the blogosphere, you should at least be willing to engage other viewpoints.  If not to convince them, then at least to show that you’ve thought about some of the concerns they express.

TDavid affirms the argument made by Shelley Powers the other day- that we can get plenty of traffic without diving into the chaotic and ultimately unfulfilling echo chamber that is, too often, the A-List blogarena.  I enjoy talking with some high traffic bloggers, but when I do, it’s not because they have traffic.  It’s because some of them still value conversation and the exchange of ideas over self-importance.  The ones who start believing their own bullshit get booted from my blogroll in favor of those who view blogging as a mode of expression and not as a way to make up for real world inadequacies.

The more I think about it, the more I start to think that it’s only a few of the mega-bloggers who screw the whole system up for the rest of us.  Many mega-bloggers seem to be interested in the same sort of stuff that the rest of are seeking.  The problem is that a lot of the normal exchanges get drowned out by the bluster of the attention-mongering children that sometimes pose as the blogosphere’s resident intellectuals.  Plus, real world friendships bond some of the good guys to some of the not-so-good guys.  How else can you explain Doc Searls‘ continued involvement with Steve Gillmor.  No one, not even Doc, can convince me that Doc isn’t secretly dismayed by at least half the insanity that comes out of Steve’s mouth.  But Doc stands by someone who, I assume, is a long time real world friend.  You can’t blame him for that.

The trick is for those of us who share the same blogging philosophy to create a de facto discussion group, build some momentum, and welcome the new voices who wonder over to our campfire and take a seat.  If we can do that, all of these collateral issues will take care of themselves.

TDavid is a good and thoughtful writer.  I’ll take him up on his offer to look back at things on 9/6/11 and see how the blogosphere, and our roles in it, have changed.  Put it on your calendar.

In the meantime, take a seat by the campfire and tell a story or two.  Otherwise, this blogging thing starts to feel like work. Low paying, thankless and boring work.

It doesn’t have to be that way- if we work together.

Tags: , ,