So, Dan Gillmor, who we last visited with just about a year ago, has been named as a fellow to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. The interesting thing about this is that this is Gillmor’s second attempt to study blogging as a social movement. The first, Bayosphere, appears to be plugging along, though doesn’t appear to have caught hold the way Gillmor probably was hoping when he left the Mercury News. What I find most interesting about the move is that it doesn’t look much like he’ll be doing anything different, except that now he’ll be doing it in a non-profit environment. How much does this say about the profit-potential for blogging? It’s tough to say, both because Bayosphere doesn’t have to publish its financials and so could be profitable, and because some folks do appear to be making money (Gawker Media comes immediately to mind, despite Nick Denton’s posturing protests to the contrary).
CNN Money published an article not long ago in which they describe/critique the many business models from which blogs can choose. It’s a decent read, though they’re overthinking it. Blogs, and most online businesses, basically can pursue one of three strategies: focus on content (like what AOL Time-Warner and Disney try to do); focus on distribution (like what Google and MySpace try to do); or attempt some form of hybrid (where to begin — almost everyone’s doing it to some degree, including most of the folks I just named).
In the early days of radio, and then television, individual stations created their own content solely for local distribution. Over time, networks of stations evolved, with the network chosing from the best content created at each of its stations and distributing it to the other member stations (these types of media networks still exist, with PBS one of the best known examples — Howard Stern on ClearChannel was, until recently, another great example). In many cases, the ownership of a large, popular station would buy up a number of stations in other regions, too. Finally, specialized production houses started producing content, with networks buying the content and providing distribution (independent films probably illustrate this model best these days). Obviously, hybrid approaches of just about every stripe exist, too. What’s happening with blogs these days, such as AOL buying Weblogs, Inc. (which itself followed the network model), looks increasingly like history repeating.
Which model will win out? It’s probably too soon to say, though, there’s really no reason that companies following each won’t do well. So, good luck, Dan. For profit or non-profit, we’ve really only just begun figuring out how the world will look down the road because of the Internet. It’s going to continue to be fun to see where that road will take us.
So, how long do you think it is before another OS displaces Microsoft Windows (2000, XP, Vista, what-have-you)? As if there weren’t increasing evidence, such as Apple’s (albeit modest) lift in market share, the key chink in the armor is the increasing utility of the Web displacing the traditional OS. Along those lines, Yahoo has now added aliases to its search mechanisms. They refer to the feature as Search Shortcuts, and it’s pretty cool, actually. Isn’t it interesting that the Web has gone from command line (think the days of Lynx and the like), to GUI (Mosaic, Netscape, IE, Firefox, etc.), and is heading back to command line again? What do you want to bet that if this catches on, Yahoo begins looking for ways to monetize this little bit of functionality, much like AOL does with its keywords? Software as services assumes that someone’s willing to pay for those services.
Richard McManus, who has written extensively about Web 2.0, now is talking about how it’s dead. Kind of. OK, really, it’s the term “Web 2.0” that’s dead. We’re getting all hung up on the semantics, McManus says, getting himself all hung up on the semantics.
The most interesting part of McManus’ post, though, gets lost in all this discussion about what Web 2.0 is, isn’t, or otherwise. He mentions that he plans to discuss “…more media-related Web technologies.” He continues, “many of the things I’m interested in are being done by Yahoo!, which by now is generally recognized as a media company.” Interesting concept, this emergence of the web-as-media, and I think he’s onto something so much that I’ve been working on a piece for the better part of a week about the very thing. The funny thing is, while no one’s willing to admit it yet, we’ve been down this route before. It, too, had a name that many bandied about back in the day that fell out of favor. They called it… convergence. Should we start calling this “Convergence 2.0”?
OK, so until we get things worked out here, you can check out my thoughts and ramblings at Blogspot. Figure I’ll have all this other stuff worked out by Christmas and be back here full time by just after the first of the year. I’ll probably keep the Blogspot space as well for a while, anyway.
By the way, the current design of the site is going away real soon now. So, if you hate this look, hang with me for a bit. It’ll all work out in the end. ‘K?