But Steve misses a the opportunity to raise a distinction between splogs and blogs when he says :
Content “theft” or whatever you want a call it has been an issue long before the Internet became a mass medium. It mushroomed over the past 10 years and now that everyone is a publisher, it will only get worse
The aggregator problem will only get worse if the emphasis on blogging remains on providing content and on telling people that they can make big bucks by providing subjectively judged "kick-ass content". If the emphasis continues to shift towards conversation, the importance of "kick-ass content" that does nothing will be a lesser issue. Creating conversation and community requires that bloggers become more involved in their blogging--and consider themselves contributors rather than simply spewers or sponges for content. If this happens, there will be little reason for the existence of sites that are only aggregators and never interact.
Besides, aggregators in general are IMHO boring and cheap. It's real easy to provide a link and a couple of pithy words.
Rubel also brings up the problem of RSS. RSS is great for finding out who's saying what, but it doesn't get individuals involved any further. This simple factor has lead to enterprising individuals designing bots that steal content without contributing anything--which is what happened to him. The solution might be to limit one's RSS feed to just a few lines. Sure, folks might not subscribe to your feed, but, then again, what's the purpose of what you do? Is your purpose to get people to only read your content, or is it something more social??
If conversation can start with good content, the problem with splog also becomes a problem for search engines who want to help people find original content and subsequent conversation. Mark Cuban suggests a broad definition of a splog:
any hosted website that only uses redirected or copied content and doesnt add any unique value. Aggregation is not value add. Why ? Because a search on any blog engine should uncover the unique content on their original source
I somewhat agree with Cuban (although the theory needs some refining)--and take it one step further: aggregated content with that personal touch should, eventually, create some conversation.
Conversation, though, doesn't always have to be on the blog...it can happen in email or on forums, too. If the blogger is involved with his/her blog beyond being a content aggregator, he/she can create short posts around email and thus demonstrate that one has community.
Yet, fundamentally, there seems to be a problem with the perceptions of blogs and blogging, in part because of the current emphasis on monetization and on persons as brands and their networks as markets. This kind of thinking makes the motive for cribbing someone's content understandable--they want to make some money on *your* content. Yet people aren't *just* brands, our groups of friends aren't *just* markets, and is a person's reason for blogging (or splogging)*always* with an eye on monetization? We are more than those narrow little pidgeonholes. I *think* Mark Cuban gets it--but does Steve Rubel get it?