The Loss of Relevance/Innocence
Blogging has had its ups and downs. There have been millions of bloggers who ran out of things to say after a few months. There were bloggers who couldn't keep on topic. They wrote about the most banal things and, thankfully, most of those have disappeared into irrelevance. And then, there were blogs dreamed up by corporate marketing types. Some of those blogs masked their real intent or ownership and some were such blatant touts that they, too, disappeared from relevance.
The blogs that prevailed were blogs of substance, volume and focus. That could be changing.
To date, most efforts by mainstream media firms, PR firms and businesses re: blogs have been slapdash, immature or poorly thought out. As these companies finally get their arms around blogs, they will no doubt change the nature of blogs and not necessarily for the better.
If you don't believe me, read this 06/23/2008 BusinessWeek piece: Inside The War Against China's Blogs. Three firms are featured that charge clients $500-25,000/month to:
- monitor blogs others write
- publish lots of positive posts about their client's firm/products/services
- attempt to quash or bury negative publicity for their client
Marketing organizations can really ruin a great technology. They'll ruin it through overuse and inappropriate usage. That may be about to happen to blogs. It's already impacted newsletters (that turned into news-less pitch pieces), emails (which begat SPAM), webinars (which went from informative knowledge transfer mediums to shameless infomercials), etc. When a great technology gets misused, it gets less valuable.
I really don't want that to happen to blogs but the article paints a disturbing story. Consider these data points: bloggers are being paid to send at least 50 posts per day for only $0.015 per post. I don't about you but my cost per blog is considerably higher.
If my posts are getting shoved aside by these puff-piece generators, then I'll need to rethink why I'm blogging. Many bloggers write as it gives them a way to have influence. If marketers find methods to negate or obliterate that influence, then blogging ceases to work. It would for me.
Before long, we'll need a mechanism to identify this type of paid, commercial blog content as readers will likely want a way to bypass it. We do this with television (think TIVO or DVR), we do this with radio (think SIRIUS or your iPod) and people will want this with blogs. But, like with newsletters, email and other media, some media cannot be easily managed to discard the superfluous, self-serving hype. If blog content gets so polluted with this self-aggrandizing tripe, then it could usher in a dark ages era for blogging.