Harry, Harry, quite contrary

For Nick Denton, contrarianism is a competitive sport. So today, he rather relishes announcing blog layoffs and handing the scoop over to David Carr at the New York Times, who at least gets the gag: “Mr. Denton, whose practice of poor-mouthing his own enterprise may have some competitive advantages, is not a complete blog bear.”

I’ve been friends and worked with Nick for years. He introduced me to blogging (it’s his fault) and I was on the board of his company, Moreover. And through that time, I’ve seen that among Nick’s talents include a genius for swimming upstream, for asking the hard question, and for managing PR by downplaying every success so that he’s always bigger than you think. Nick practices reverse hypeology.

What we see in his latest moves is simply management: making the tough decisions to kill sites that aren’t paying off while carefully picking the next targets and investing in the dull bits, like backend technology. Carr and Denton make a point of saying that he’s acting like a media company and he is — like a private media company that thinks longterm. He’s acting very much like the media company I last worked for, which is quite by design.

But, in fact, Nick is also demonstrating, whether he likes it or not, a key strength of blogging and minimedia: flexibility. You don’t have to invest a fortune to start a blog property, which means its easier not only to start one but also to kill it.

So don’t always take my friend Nick’s antihype at face value. Sometimes, killing hype is the best hype of all. It gets you in the New York Times.

: Here’s Eat the Press’ coverage. And Heather Green goes bear hunting. Rex Hammock questions Carr. Fishbowl links aplenty.