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Opening Arguments

The new underground?

If you aren't tired of reading blog posts about blogging, here's a long and thoughtful article from the Financial Times, which asks, among other things, whether Orwell and Marx would have been bloggers if they'd had the technology. It's at least as skeptical as the Chicago Tribune editorial we've been talking about for the last few days, but it's a lot more sophisticated and nuanced about what blogging is and might not be. What makes it a must-read is that it both explores the Old Media-New Media dichotomy and also considers blogging on its own merits:

Blogging will no doubt always have a place as an underground medium in closed societies; but for those in the west trying to blog their way into viable businesses, the economics are daunting.

The inherent problem with blogging is that your brand resides in individuals. If they are fabulous writers, someone is likely to lure them away to a better salary and the opportunity for more meaningful work; if the writer tires and burns out, the brand may go down in flames with them.

The most interesting point made comes at conclusion of the piece, and it's something I haven't heard much discussion of:

And that, in the end, is the dismal fate of blogging: it renders the word even more evanescent than journalism; yoked, as bloggers are, to the unending cycle of news and the need to post four or five times a day, five days a week, 50 weeks of the year, blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence. No Modern Library edition of the great polemicists of the blogosphere to yellow on the shelf; nothing but a virtual tomb for a billion posts - a choric song of the word-weary bloggers, forlorn mariners forever posting on the slumberless seas of news.

We all get caught up in what we're doing and think it must be important and meaningful. But will it endure? Everything we do is archived on our individual sites, and I'd like to think the best of it can be captured and connected in meaningful ways the way our best books are shelved in libraries. But the same wishes were probably expressed by people in the underground press movement of the '60s, which the writer compares blogging to (and not favorably).

Posted in: Weblogs