I get all kinds of requests for surveys and interviews and I am afraid that in my new billable-hours mode of life, I have to turn most away.
This week alone, I’ve had two companies come to me asking to interview me on behalf of some unnamed client’s branding study. If there were a personal relationship involved, I might agree. But when I don’t know the client, my response is to tell them my hourly rate. They say nevermind.
What bothers me is that I have to turn away students doing surveys about blogging. I would love to help every one of them. But the problem is that they ask such huge, general, and bottomless questions: What impact has blogging had on politicis/society/life? Arrrrgh. Don’t get me started. No, really, don’t, or you’ll regret it.
My advice to companies trying to make money off the opinions of bloggers: Pay.
My advice to students: Try reading and quoting blogs — our opinions are all here anyway — or ask specific or at least surprising questions.
Feedster comes out with a list of 500 blogs. Jason Calacanis kvells (could it be because he sees his blogs on it?).
But this misses the point (again). Making a universal top n00 list, however it is made, continues to engage in old-media thing, big-media, mass-market think: The guys on top win.
No, in this new world of choice and control at the edges, it’s the niches, and those who can pull them together, who win. And it’s those who can demonstrate influence and engagement who will win — as soon as somebody figures out how to demonstrate it.
Besides, a universal top n00 list is even a bad execution of big-media think. When Ad Age gives you lists of magazine revenue, it separates women’s and entertainment and business publications; in big-media, those pass as niches and they are far more valuable comparisons. When talking about newspapers, you don’t lump in metro papers with town papers with trade papers; it’s a meaningless lump.
When somebody can tell me who the queen of the knitting bloggers is, then I’ll listen…. and so will knitting advertisers.
Tom Evslin is working on a novel:
It’s an historic murder mystery set in the first Internet bubble and rubble. I had a ringside seat in 1998-2003. It’s fun to tell the story.
Tom did, indeed, have that seat. Put him on the short list of the people who made the inernet the internet. When he headed up AT&T’s internet services, he introduced flat-rate pricing and brought on the masses. He went on to see the power of VOIP before the industry did. And as you’d expect, he’s not publishing the old-fashioned way:
My Novel is going to appear first on the web. I’ve been in software so long that I’m gonna start with a beta release version 0.91 published on a blog engine. It’ll be free; you can subscribe to it; you can visit it online; you can file bug reports and feature requests; you can roast it in comments; and there’ll be other ways to interact online as well. The fictional company in the book will have a real website. That SHOULD all start in a month or two (hey, this IS like software).
The edited e-book version 1.0 will follow and then the hardcover edition early next year (incorporating all bug fixes, of course). By then I think word of blog will have determined how many we need to print in our first run. Newbie authors don’t usually get traditional reviews, even less so if they self publish. Blogs have become a bypass around traditional media gatekeepers in many ways. It’s my bet that’ll happen with books as well. Web marketing is primary for this enterprise!
We’ve put together a small but talented short-term virtual company for the all the many pieces that go into self publishing. I’ll blog about them soon.
Jay Rosen, back from a journalism educators’ confab, writes about what he used to teach but doesn’t now. A few of his bullets:
* I used to teach it implicitly: journalism is a profession. Now I think it’s a practice, in which pros and amateurs both participate. There were good things about the professional model, and we should retain them. But it’s the strength of the social practice that counts, not the health of any so-called profession. That is what J-schools should teach and stand for, I believe. I don’t care if they’re called professional schools. They should equip the American people to practice journalism by teaching the students who show up, and others out there who may want help.
Yes, and so we need to rethink how we look at the schools and their mission just as we look at the news organizations and their missions. More on this soon.
* I used to teach that the ethics of journalism, American-style, could be found in the codes, practices and rule-governed behavior that our press lived by. Now I think you have to start further back, with beliefs way more fundamental than: “avoid conflicts of interest in reporting the news.” If you teach journalism ethics too near the surface of the practice, you end up with superficial journalists.
* The ethics of journalism begin with propositions like: the world is basically intelligible if we have accurate reports about it; public opinion exists and ought to be listened to; through the observation of events we can grasp patterns and causes underneath them; the circle of people who know how things work should be enlarged; there is something called “the public record” and news adds itself meaningfully to it; more information is good for it leads to greater awareness, which is also good; stories about strangers have morals and we need to hear them, and so on. These are the ethics I would teach first….
* Alas, I used to teach that the world needs more critics; but it was an unexamined thing. Today I would say that the world has a limited tolerance for critics, and while it always needs more do-ers, it does not always need more chroniclers, pundits, or pencil-heads.
About.com’s blog guide digs up a list of knitting blogs. That’s what’s beautiful about this thing and that’s why all the huff-n-puff about A lists is so off-the-mark. There is an A list of knitting blogs. And if you’re a knitter, that’s the one that matters. [full disclosure: I'm consulting at About]
About’s blog guide reports on what may be the first wedding by blog.
I want an RSS feed of the top searches in any day (or hour) on Technorati (not to mention Google, Bloglines, IceRocket, and Yahoo) and here’s why. Steve “Scoop” Rubel says:
One reason I turn to the blogosphere for news is that you find gems that you can’t unearth anywhere else. For example, my interest was piqued this morning when I saw on Technorait’s top searches a spike in queries for Christopher Walken. Sure enough, I found out that he’s running for President. As of right now the news media hasn’t really picked up on this one yet…but they will.
: LATER: Scoop Rubel, who started this, now leaves a comment saying there are reports this is a hoax. See also the Technorati rumors. This is why newsrooms confirm things….
Matthew Hurst tracks to path of the Technorati rumor. [via Steve Rubel] Yes, I joined in the mob and then thought better of it and mentioned that I’d seen doubt and I’d also seen denials of a similar rumor.