The Internet used to be a place where people did academic research, wrote a few personal emails, and had a few websites to pick from that were idiosyncratic to say the least. There were newsgroups with binary images that had to be decoded to be viewed. It was mostly text, and website information content was high. That, according to David Boles, was the Golden Age of the Web. Now, it’s a world of e-commerce and media company fodder. Are blogs a return to the source – where virtual communities were founded based around a common interest?
In previous posts on her blog, Pia once drew (in a post I can no longer locate) a parallel between blog communities and towns, where people group together at the town hall or village bars. Back in 1993 when I got my first email address, the villages were full of geeks. Now, they’re totally cosmopolitan.
Perhaps, in some ways, blogs are reclaiming the territory that alt.sex, alt.drugs and alt.rock-n-roll once held. Media companies don’t always get it though. In this post over at Bring it On!, Pia rants about how recent media articles try to place a value on blogs, hinting that we’re not all here to make money from writing – or indeed to achieve any kind of financial reward. The media still gets very excited about blogging and how it’s the thing to do, even without any concrete revenue streams predictable except for advertising revenue (that holy grail that was going to make us all website owners millionaires online at one time).
How can a form thatâ€™s so young have a hierarchy based solely on incoming links and advertising revenues? No two blogs are exactly alike; people have different purposes and goals.
Blogging costs me money. With domain, hosting and update charges it’s a small hobby budget. That doesn’t even factor the amount of time required for me to keep things up to date, or that it took for me to design the original look to this site. It doesn’t make many people heaps of cash either, and certainly not enough to be interesting to a major corporation. As Roland Piquepaille says in his article :
… the blogging phenomenon is just marginal economically speaking. But bloggers themselves are different because they’re writers, they have a voice and they’re real customers of real products.
Blogging is a phenomenon because it is so hard to qualify. Before, we had personal web pages but the learning curve to get a page out there and keep it sensibly formatted and up to date was hard. Blogging is just an extension of that – a simple way to get your thoughts on the web in a structured format. Blogging software has done for the personal home page what Tim Berners Lee did for the Internet in the first place : make content creation easy, available, and compatible with any type of computer you have as long as it can connect to a TCP/IP link somewhere. Tim created the standard by which documents would be created : HTML. Blogging platforms made HTML knowledge unnecessary, and instead created the automatic journal for all those frustrated writers out there, and people like me who want to keep family and friends up to date from time to time. I know how to write HTML and design sites, but a blogging platform makes it easy – and saves me a lot of time – for my little online journal.
I’ll leave the final word to a comment in the Bring it On! post mentioned above, paraphrased by Windspike from someone else somewhere who was inspired by Warhol :
Bloggers may not get their 15 minutes, but may be famous to 15 people.