Year of the Blog

TCS: Tech – Year of the Blog. A good summary of what happened this year with blogs. It is amazing how quickly the phenomena has made it out of the high level geeks to only the partial geeks like me!

bloggers areasking for money. Few will make a living from their blogs – but then, few free-lance writers make a living solely from writing anyway. Other, non-beggging, revenue models are also in play. Nick Denton’ s gadget-blog Gizmodo.com, is reportedly already in the black (more than most web media ventures can claim) and Henry Copeland’s BlogAds venture seeks to aggregate bloggers to achieve success the old-fashioned way, through advertising. John Hiler’s CityBlogs and Nick Denton’s Gawker.com look like they might pose threats to the entertainment-oriented alternative-weekly market niche. And, of course, Big Media outfits have joined the blog world either by bringing in bloggers (as Slate has done with Mickey Kaus) or by creating house blogs, as MSNBC has done with Eric Alterman. So it’s fair to say that blogging has, to some degree, gone commercial.

Nonetheless, the beauty of weblogs is that they’re cheap. This is why “thin media” ventures like Gizmodo can turn a profit: it’s not hard to turn a profit when the overhead is minuscule. As Paul Boutin reported, “Media has never before been this lean.” That’s also why the number of weblogs – even without any revenues – has exploded beyond any counting. A.J. Liebling famously said that freedom of the press belongs to whoever owns one. Nowadays, that’s anyone who wants to. There’s even a blogger from Baghdad, and a homeless guy blogger from Nashville. You can’t get any more open than that.

What’s next? I think that falling prices for storage, bandwidth, and digital cameras will result in weblogs going multimedia over the next year. Jeff Jarvis has already experimented with video-blogging on his site: two-minute video clips with professional-looking titles and backgrounds generated by computer. Mobileweblogging, taking advantage of the ability to post pictures and text via cellphones, may offer anyone the opportunity to be a reporter. The next time there’s a major disaster or terrorist attack from an area where there are a lot of cellphone-equipped individuals, the first photos to reach the outside world will almost certainly do so via weblogs.

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