Time for blog pioneers to get with the program

Not much to say about the Macworld announcements. The bloggers and the press have said what needs to be said.

  • Nice Intel-based notebooks and iMacs
  • iLife updates to enable better podcasting are moderately cool but appear to work only with .Mac accounts
  • iPod sales figures are now as familiar to the technorati as burgers sold once was to the Mickey D’s crowd
  • iTunes meets the legal definition of a monopoly with its 83% market share, but nobody, except those pesky economists, thinks monopolies are a bad thing

That’s it. Nothing more to add. If only some other bloggers could show such restraint.

I speak specifically of this entry. What was Steve Gillmor thinking? What’s the point of the blog entry? It’s nothing more than disjointed notes taken during the keynote and posted within 10 minutes of the end of the speech. It’s hard enough to understand Gillmor when he believes he’s creating complete sentences.

Think this through. Anyone with web access during the keynote could have watched it live through iTunes. If one had better things to do, just wait until the address is over and go to Apple’s site. Look! All the nifty announcements, written in English, all in one place. What value did Gillmor’s post add to the inevitable online discussions that follow every Jobs speech? Nothing. He only succeeded in further diminishing his brand.

The problem is that so many bloggers and podcasters, especially the self-proclaimed experts and pioneers, don’t realize that blogging’s gone mainstream. The revolution’s over. They won. Now it’s about content. Putting something up there in near real-time simply because you can isn’t a good enough reason to publish in 2006. The message has to be relevant to the reader. It appears Gillmor believes we should be impressed enough that he made the post via EVDO with a boost from his good firend Doc Searles. Please.

The bigger question: How does Ziff-Davis allow a contributor to diminish its brand. The ZDNet tagline is “where technology means business.” When I mean business, I mean “don’t waste my time.” If ZDNet wants to be known as a trusted source of technology information, it should spend some time curating the experience it delivers. It’s the job of an editor to put the brakes on such wastes of time and bandwidth.

Most folks download far more podcasts and subscribe to far more news feeds than they can ever consume. If you want to build an audience, you can’t waste people’s time. They’ll simply move on. You might ask, “Mr. Weasel, if Gillmor’s blogs and podcasts are so bad, why do you keep coming back?” Because like a really bad car accident, no matter how much I try to avert my eyes, morbid curiosity catches up with me. I’m amazed that this has been allowed to go on for so long. Sooner or later ZDNet has to pull the plug, doesn’t it?

Gillmor’s not the whole problem. He’s not even the worst of it. Ever check out Steve Garfield’s waste of bandwidth? Another new media darling of the old media establishment. This one let a piece of software automatically edit the video for that blog entry. (Maybe it is better than Steve could do.) A conspiracy theorist would assume that old media crowns the likes of the Steve G’s as princes of the blogosphere so that the great unwashed go to their sites and figure the whole blogging and podcasting thing is bunk if this is the best that’s out there.

If you don’t think the likes of Gillmor and Garfield and their undeserved reputations are bad for the emergence of new media, think back to the first time someone showed you web video in 1997. It looked like garbage. How many years after that did you continue to equate web video with poor quality? That’s what these guys are doing to blogging and podcasting. For years people are going equate blogs and podcasts with garbage.

Like the early days of the web, there’s a lot of crap out there. But why do so many insist on celebrating the worst of it?

Next up… a better vision for the future.

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