Microcontent News March 18, 2002 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Previously a section of Corante, today Microcontent News has launched as a full-blown site. I think that it looks very sexy, with a good choose of categorises, although I'm sure someone here will be able to identify areas for improvement ;-) What I was wondering was whether people think that there will be enough developments in this area to keep such a site busy? Is there going to be much movement on the weblogging/microcontent front over the next year or 2, or will most action/thinking simply be a rehash or re-examination of past events. I suppose with every media outlet under the sun seeming determined to write (generally re-write) something on the subject, their blog will certainly be active, if nothing else.
posted by RobertLoch to General Weblog-Related at 9:25 AM (7 comments total)

One thing I always love about the blogging community is how they all anounce 'I was doing that about that 2 years ago' anytime anyone writes about blogging, but when asked to give their thoughts on the future of blogging, you rarely get a response. People readily discuss the past and present, but what of the future? Does no one have any thoughts on the extent or direction blogging/microcontent will develop over the next couple of years?
posted by RobertLoch at 4:44 PM on March 18, 2002

OK I'm going to discuss this topic by myself.

I noticed this comment today on Spinsanity:

'Our first month with Salon has been a turning point for the site. Now that our one month introductory period is over, our articles on Salon (starting with Ben's column below) will be available exclusively to members of Salon Premium, which requires a paid subscription, for two days before they become available on our site. (Of course, we'll continue to post original articles directly to the site too.) We hope that you'll join through our affiliate link below (also posted in the "Currently on Spinsanity" box) for immediate access to our newest work and to all the other good stuff on Salon. A subscription costs $30 for one year or $50 for two years.'

If you note the highlighted text, that got me thinking about the exact nature of their deal with Salon. Is it possible that they are giving Salon their content for very little but have an agreement whereby they keep a larger than normal slice of the subscriber fee from anyone that subscribers through their affiliate link? It would be somewhat telling if that were the case.

Spinsanity is one of the few, or is it the only? blog to become part of a mainstream subscription model. Are we likely to see more of this?

There are definitely blogs that I'd pay to view. I certainly think that there is potential in terms of topic or industry specific blogs getting to a point where they could conceivably go subscription in some form or other. That said, that is not really what blogging is about.

Increasingly I'm finding that the greatest value I get is from the aggregator, rather than any individual publisher. The concept of paying simply for links is somewhat bizarre, but it is being done. ESPN Insider's The Daily Sports Article Search service provider links to 500 sport stories from around the web. I suppose that what you are really paying for is intelligence and time saved, not just links. For instance, although Jim Romenesko is unlikely to ever charge a fee to read media news, that doesn't detract from the fact that there are many that would pay if he did. I certainly would.

In short, I do see an increasing role for bloggers, be it as part of a subscription service or as an addition to an existing publication. If I had the time and ability, I'd grap a topic, and try to make it my own. I was thinking about starting a blog about online marketing, but then realised that the additional time might prevent me from posting here.....then I'd miss talking to myself.
posted by RobertLoch at 9:44 PM on March 18, 2002

Since no one else wants to I’ll fire up the ol crystal ball mention some of the things I’ve seen talked about. I think the biggest thing will be syndication. When you easily separate content from form you can combine different blogs, and have a meta-blog rather than visit each one separately.

I hope that we see more specialized blogs that act as portals and news aggregators as more experts start their own. This does bring up the question how long until everyone who wants one will have one?

I’m also interested to see what happens when Blogdex is able to track the ebb and flow of links and follow memes from start to finish.
posted by euphorb at 9:46 PM on March 18, 2002

For instance, although Jim Romenesko is unlikely to ever charge a fee to read media news

(This doesn't go against your main point, but, actually, Romenesko gets paid to produce MediaNews for the Poynter institute. And I think they want to keep it free to drive traffic.)

I've gotta say, I don't think the (interesting) question is, what is the future of blogging, but, what is the future of the independent publisher. I think some, like Andrew Sullivan (who just recently broke even on his blog, I believe) and a few others who attract good crowds, will eventually be able to turn the freedom to tell it like they see it into modestly paying audiences. In most cases it will probably more have value helping writers create other paying opportunities -- freelance writing and such.

A portal model wouldn't work, I think -- any big web company could create one themselves; there's not much unique value an independent publisher could offer there.

Most bloggers aren't really much more than hobbyists, it seems. (I've said this before (and will probably say it again) -- forgive me.) Their future is, they'll keep on doing it as long as they find it rewarding, and then they'll stop (for greater or lesser periods of time). I don't know many that have anything like a goal for their blog, or something that they hope to get from it that will make it sustainable. Rather, it's an urge they follow, often mixed with some desire for traffic/appreciation from the world. Inevitably, this urge will wane (and they will be left wondering what they do it for), or "real" life will interfere.

As for all this discussion of blogging, I can't imagine that it will last. I honestly don't see much in it, beyond its being an outlet for people who are excited about this new hobby. There isn't that much you need to know about weblogging, is there?
posted by mattpfeff at 10:59 PM on March 18, 2002

Well, mattpfeff, discussing "weblogging" has become like discussing "talking on the phone". I can't imagine that will last -- I mean, what's the point, after the fiftieth time your wife reminds you to bring home milk? Just a fad.

That said, there's still plenty that's happening. There's a second wave of media pros doing their own blogs, and as with Spinsanity, several bloggers are finding themselves hired into paying gigs. Megan McArdle parlayed blog fame into Salon article. FOXNews.com has hired five bloggers to do columns in rotation: Ken Layne, Will Vehrs, Rand Simberg, Joanne Jacobs, and Tim Blair to do their "FOX WebLog". Simberg is an engineer, Vehrs an economic developer; the others have been in journalism. Blogs such as Instapundit seem to be leading indicators of media memes, suggesting journalists read him for story ideas. The professional weblog is alive and well, from William Shatner (or Wil Wheaton) to authors pimping their books and articles like Virginia Postrel, to cartoonist Tom Tomorrow. If you produce content or sell yourself, the blog is now becoming a de rigeur professional accessory. (A static home page, now, says you're not getting work.)

So perhaps individual blogs are dull but only to the extent that people are dull -- and as long as there are people doing interesting things, weblogs will be seen as a way to keep up with them. It isn't magic.
posted by dhartung at 12:59 AM on March 19, 2002

I thought I said that I wanted to discuss this topic by myself ;-)

What I'd quite like to see is a mulitple blog publication. Kind of like a newspaper but done in a blogging style. So you'd have a section on world, business, sport, entertainment etc. with different bloggers contributing to each section. The NYT but a blog. That would be cool.

euphorb New Is Free is a of blog/news portal. Freshnews is quite a good example of topic specific headlines being syndicated, and then brought together in one place.

dhartung, I think that the Fox Bloggers are very good. I particularly enjoy reading Layne's rants. It was certainly encouraging to see Fox make that move. I get the impression that they may have all grouped together, and then approached Fox with the suggestion, rather than Fox thinking up the initiative themselves. Regardless, thumbs up to Fox for making the leap.
posted by RobertLoch at 10:44 AM on March 19, 2002

What I'd quite like to see is a mulitple blog publication.

This is kinda what Corante is (woohoo-- bringing a thread full-circle)-- multiple bloggers focused on specific areas of expertise published together (of course, they seem to have only one blogger per subject area and are focused only on the tech sectors...)

As for Microcontent News, blogging about articles about blogging seems to be very popular for the momeny (at least according to Daypop and Blogdex....)
posted by andrewraff at 9:38 PM on March 19, 2002

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