Ready, aim, fire… miss
: My old friend and colleague Jimmy Guterman keeps trying to shoot down the weblog zeppelin, but he keeps missing. In Business 2.0, he writes:
2004 will be the year that blogs go mainstream, although doing so will not have the liberating effect that today’s well-known bloggers are predicting. We won’t enjoy some avalanche of great new independent presses tearing down the media monoliths or something similarly utopian. We’ll just get … more voices. The volume of blogs will mean that individual ones will lose much of their impact among the technorati — and the technorati will lose whatever little impact they’re having on mainstream media. In a world where millions blog regularly, pundits like Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky, and Dave Winer aren’t celebrities anymore. As with other Net media (from Usenet to webcams), the old-timers will whine about how the good old days were better, but the movement of blogging from an elitist activity to just another thing we all do on the Net can’t be considered anything but healthy.
Right on that last thought. But I think he’s wrong on the prior assumption that the forest loses the trees. Jimmy (like Shirky in the power law argument) assumes that it’s the voices of the big guys being heard that matters. No, it’s the din that matters. The very din that Jimmy thinks will silence the individuals is precisely what gives every individual a voice. A couple of demi-celeb webloggers won’t make a difference. Thousands of them will.
And big media will end up paying attention not because of the voices of a few big guys (though that’s what’s getting their attention today). Instead, it is this — to use the description of New York Times Digital’s Martin Nisenholtz — distributed publishing that will allow big media to get small, to reach down and find new information and serve new audiences, if only big media can figure out how to build the proper relationship with this new, small media.
Yes, this will be the year that blogs will go mainstream. But mainstream moved.