5yrs: Lessons and Insights: Where Have All The Blogs Gone?
[Another post in a series looking back over my five years since I left the Financial Times as a reporter and columnist.]
When I left the Financial Times in early summer 2004 I didn't launch Silicon Valley Watcher until mid-September.
I remember thinking I had better start writing before people forget my name. The summer was over, people were back at work, I had better stop talking about what I was going to do, and start doing.
I found myself staring at a blank screen and wondering how to start? How should I write? What is blogging? What's an appropriate mix of public and personal writing? And many more questions.
I started off doing what I knew how to do: writing news stories and columns. My first post on SVW was a tongue-in-cheek look at my barometer of how well Intel is doing.
Intel is the world's largest chipmaker. What is not generally known is that Intel is also very careful with its money - if it can pinch a penny or two on non-essential spending, it will.
This means that the quality of the backpacks that Intel likes to give out to attendees at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) conferences, tends to vary according to how well it's doing financially. I called this my "secret barometer of Intel's health."
Intel's IDF backpack in September 2004 looked good. Decent zips, and sturdy construction. I initially pronounced Intel to be in good health. However, my colleague Joe Fay, who was at the time US Editor at Computerwire, later noticed a strange smell of fish coming from his IDF backpack. Clearly things were not quite right at Intel :)
Fun with html...
Writing on SVW I found I could be very creative. I could write in my usual style for news, news analysis, columns, features, etc. But I also found that I could experiment with other styles, the 3am posts could be quite interesting...
I started experimenting with content. I would throw into my copy things that you wouldn't see unless you looked carefully. For example, I would sometimes put a hidden message behind a link. You wouldn't see it unless you clicked on the link. Sometimes the link was behind a period. This made it more difficult to notice.
Sometimes I use this technique to make a comment about a person who is acting in an unreasonable manner. I'll give you an example. I was writing about a prominent journalist and his behavior at a dinner. I didn't write directly about his behavior but I put a link behind his name.
You might assume that the link went to his column but instead, it linked to the Urban Dictionary and its definition of "jerk."
Where have all the blogs gone?
When I started SVW there were lots of blogs around. Om Malik with GigaOm, Robert Scoble's Scobelizer, etc. I was a newbie. But that was fine with me because that meant I didn't have to get into tiresome debates about using strikeouts, commenting policies, updating protocols, and much more.
The blogs at the time were news like but also very personal. I wanted to be less personal, I wanted to publish an online news magazine.
So it is with a sense of irony that five years later, the "blogs" have become news magazines and SVW has become more personal, more blog-like.
They look the same as the traditional media publications of 2004, such as CNET's News.com. The new media now looks pretty much the same as the old media it replaced.
Does this mean that the "new" media might be vulnerable to displacement by a new generation of "blogs" in the same way they themselves displaced the older generation of news sites? Maybe.
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