Saturday, February 18, 2006

FT scathing about blogging revolution - are they right?

The Financial Times today produced an in depth article and opinion piece about the blogging revolution. They present the blogging revolution reasonably well, but end up dismissing it and discarding the possibility that blogging might deliver any kind sustainable social or economic change.

I would strongly suggest that anyone involved in blogging read it. And anyone planning to launch a business using blogging should use it as a sensible health warning about the financial realities surrounding commercial blog sites.

For the part that I agree with is that setting up commercial blog sites is hard and the business is slow to build. But then which business is not. For today commercial blog sites are merely content sites. And content sites are a dime a dozen and painfully slow and expensive beasts to develop.

But, it's the conclusion of the article that I fundamentally disagree with. For the FT believes that blogging will not deliver a step change for the commercial media industry.

And I think the FT forgets that blogging is a young technology and not a new publishing process alone. The fundamental revolution that blogging has delivered is to provide any individual on the planet with the tools to easily set up and deliver a web site. And that web site is free to develop and host.

The FT also make a mistake in assuming that blogging technology will only ever enable you to produce an online journal or webzine. Today blog sites also deliver audio and video, allowing those with specific skills to set up truly multimedia websites that can incorporate content with search, links, radio, TV and film.

And blogging technology is still so young. It could well be that in another 5 years free blog services will allow people and businesses all over the world to set up the most sophisticated web sites with no technical skills whatsoever. And these web sites may include easy to set up and use commerce and shopping applications as they offer publishing applications today.

So, the likes of may provide sophisticated web services for any or all of us to set up advanced online businesses from our living rooms with no or little cost. This will allow students without engineering degrees to launch as successful Internet businesses as the hottest from Stamford. But their businesses will ber about the application of the Internet and not technologies per se. But that is the future.

The FT as well as underestimating the relevance and application of blogging technologies also I feel misunderstands what blogging, even today, is really about. They state that blogging will not replace the worlds newspapers. But I'm not sure that is what blogging is trying to do.

Newspapers are about news gathering and reporting. Blogs are about opinion. Blogging is the talk show technology of the Internet. Bloggers need newspapers and newspapers increasingly need bloggers. The one actually feeds and promotes the other. They are additive and synergistic with eachother - not in competition. At least not for a while.

And bloggers are realising that if you want to build a media company around blogging it takes an enormous amount of time, a great deal of patience and a bunch of money. For the real cost of setting up a blog is not the cost of the technology or of the production of information, but is the cost of people and marketing as with any publishing company.

But patience will pay off for the talented and blogging technology will finally allow the masses to share in the wealth of the Internet - for now anyone and their dog can own and run their own online business. And they don't even need the VC's. Now there's a revolution if ever I've heard of one.

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