Pretenders to populism

Pretenders to populism
: Folks are piling on Jason Calacanis for his opening act in blogs and this inspired Tony Perkins, who was also piled on at a recent blog conference for his faux blog Always On, to write a what-I’ve-learned piece. The answer is not much.

I have finally learned what a blog is. (Thank you Dave Winer!) It is an amateur author who posts a regular diary on his own site that is unedited, spontaneous, and generally comments on and links to other blog sites. I think the key attribute is the establishment of an individual voice that provides an alternative to traditional media.

Well, actually, I could contest that definition but it’s not worth the effort. Perkins admits that his magazine-that-couldn’t-afford-paper is really not a blog and so he has learned something.

Now the last thing we need in this new world is an instant orthodoxy of what is and what isn’t a blog, a new us-vs.-them wall down the world. That serves no one.

But what does matter is that the weblog revolution not be mischaracterized — co-opted, that is — to audiences that matter, namely: the audience itself; and advertisers (who, if they think they’re paying for a blog when they’re not won’t then pay for what is really a blog); and media (who, if they think they’re writing about blogs when they’re not won’t end up writing about what is really a blog).

: Perkins continues to try to get revolutionary ruboff from the blogging community and his alleged proximity to it:

The bottom line as I see it is the original blogging community represents the early-adopters of a movement that will eventually radicalize the entire media industry. Some time off in the future, if major media brands do not open up their content to more participation, readers will just not trust them, and they will go elsewhere.

Perhaps AO is one of the first commercial brands to borrow on the blogging tradition in this regard. So on one hand, we appreciate our founding fathers, but on the other hand we need to massage and build upon what you have shown us to make it more commercially viable.

Well, first, pardon me for playing PC PC (that is, personal computering politically correct) but “early adopter” is just another condescending way to say “loser geek.” It’s another way to say, “thanks, kids, now let the grownups take over.” It’s another way for Perkins to come off like a pompous ass. But fine; no news there.

And, second, I disagree with his assumption that blogging will somehow grow up to be a part of all major media. No, it won’t necessarily and neither should it necessarily. The internet is the first medium owned by its audience and weblogging is the means that is giving that audience its voice. What’s important about weblogging is not that big media may do it but that the people are doing it.

I’m a big-media guy and I’m a blogger and the reason that I keep them separate is that when I blog, I’m little media — nanomedia — and proud. That’s what this is all about.

The success of this medium — artistically, functionally, commercially, politically — will come not from big guys taking it over and not from little guys trying to become big guys but instead from the congregation of all the little guys ending up with a voice louder than the big guys’.