Monday, August 22, 2005

Rethinking "Blogging"

I came across this little tidbit in the NYTimes today: "For Niche Film Audience, Studios are Appealing by Blog", where Joel Topcik explains how Focus, "the art-house unit of Universal Pictures" recently purcased ads for its new Ralph Finnes star-vehilce "The Constant Garder" on Wonkette.

Talk about new media reflecting old media. No wonder new media is turning into old media. Where there's money to be made, the old models work.

With this little bit of news, it's beginning to look like blogs are going the way of true art films--most "art" films are not just distributed under the ageis of large production companies, but actually receive money from large production units such as Universal, Disney, Paramount, etc. Miramax was bought some years back by (I think) Disney, and the quality of their films has been sliding downhill...because we all know everything Disney is NOT everything art film.

But what does this mean for blogging? Well, I'm getting the sense that blogging isn't what it used to be, nor what it should be. Blogging is a populist medium. It should not be co-opted by ads. Sure, lots of us who love to blog would also love to make money from it--but I think we've got to grow up and realize that if we want to make money from blogs, we're going to have to become part of a conglomorate, like Gawker, and then we'll get those big ads.

Is this, then, who we bloggers really are?

I don't think so. Blogging is about community--about sharing, chatting, exchanging ideas in ways that can't be in the msm, by people who don't want their opinions influenced by the drives of msm.

Then again, maybe I'm being a total polyanna on all this, and maybe bloggers should sell-out to the big ads and all of us should be sitting around with our fingers crossed, hoping Mr. Denton will discover us, or hoping that our corporations discover our bad-mouth blogs so we can get the juicy book deal.

Frankly, though, we should have careers in other places, and should be using our blogs for personal expression--for things we can't say because we want to say them, not with the motivation that we're going to get something for it. If we want a monitary kickback for blogging, we should do it for an organization or a business to further the goals of that business, and have them pay us a fee for "content management." A film company taking out ads on Wonkette is the exact same thing as a company running an ad in an alternative newspaper--it is old media pretending to be edgy, like the old guy who goes out and dyes his hair, gets botox, and buys a 'vette. It's not blogging any more than a series of two-line scatalogical blog entries with links constitute an essay.

And all this is going to do is, eventually, shut the door on new voices in blogging. What's new could, unfortunately, become old very, very fast.

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