Apres moi, le deluge. That is, I seem to arrive shortly before the herd. I was very, very late to the blog party, and might have skipped right to the Second Life lovefest altogether had this course not required the setting up and maintenance of a WordPress account.
Sure, I’d played with Blogger and Blogspot when they came out (just as I am willing to try any social networking thing that comes along). I had just come off a decade-long domain-buying binge-I racked up several dozen, including vitualyulelog.com and 13hourwatch.com (“Not enough time in the day? Buy our 13-hour watch.”). I’m not kidding about any of this, by the way. I took howtodobusinesswithchina.com then howtoretiretocanada.com (presumably after doing business with china).
I had started accumulating domain names in the mid-1990s and collected a strong hand of political ones. Taking KerryEdwards.org eighteen months before that ticket formed earned me a few minutes of fame during the last election cycle (in case you’re wondering, some guy named Kerry Edwards already had the dot-com). More recently, I picked up johndanforth.com and feingoldobama.com with an eye toward ’08.
But a “been there done that” attitude kept me on the sidelines when the whole blog phenomenon exploded a few years ago. Charting the creation of blogs by the minute on Technorati-how was that any different than the days when everyone had to have a website (or even more recently, when everyone had to have a MySpace or Facebook page)? Even the charts looked the same!
Brief detour: According to web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, “There are about 1.1 billion Internet users, yet only 55 million users (5%) have weblogs according to Technorati. Worse, there are only 1.6 million postings per day; because some people post multiple times per day, only 0.1% of users post daily.
“Blogs have even worse participation inequality than is evident in the 90-9-1 rule that characterizes most online communities. With blogs, the rule is more like 95-5-0.1.”
A colleague at work who is a real working journalist kept pointing out that bloggers were the ones breaking the news, by capturing sensational words and/or video from underreported events. News that big media then picked up and amplified. But I was still unimpressed. Didn’t everyone already know about Trent Lott…and Mark Foley?
What finally turned me into a blog fan was not the abstract or ideological; it was RSS and SEO. Simply put, the underlying technology that allowed blogs to rise to the top of Google searches by virtue of their “freshness”-and the ease with which blogs can be syndicated (distributed) across the Web with a URL and a couple of clicks.
So you can take the whole clamoring gang: Spiers, Denton, Calacanis, Sullivan, Huffington, and the rest. (Flash: the guy who was writing Gawker-or was it Jossip?-is now writing Intelligencer. Yawn.) You can even take the endless debate about citizen vs. celebrity journalism, and whether the lowly blogger is being supplanted by the blog mogul. Just leave us with those powerful tools. The rest will sort itself out.