I�ve been meaning to write about blogs and the NY Bloggers Talk event for the past few weeks but haven�t felt like I have anything new to add to the conversation. I jotted down a few paragraphs and realized that I really do have nothing new to add to the conversation. But the paragraphs are written and because I like to make sure I make a post once a month about navel-gazing and how I was into comic books when I was 12, I�m posting the following for your skipping-over pleasure:
A few weeks ago I went to the Apple store in SoHo for the Weblog event set up by Jake of Gothamist (and now Chicagoist?). I got there a little late so I missed some of the conversation between Jason Calacanis and Nick Denton. I did see enough to know that I didn�t miss too much. The event was hyped as some sort of verbal smackdown between two of the leaders in the field of �blogs as business.� That hype was fun and I was curious to hear what these two guys, who have both been around the internet world for years, had to say about their respective companies (Weblogs, Inc. for Calacanis and Gawker Media for Denton). I wish I had been a little closer so that I didn�t miss every tenth word, but their conversation basically boiled down to Calacanis saying blogs, if done right while properly finding thousands of niche publishing areas to fill, can become very profitable in a few years. And Denton responding that he�s not really about that (and then not revealing too much about the financial structure of his company or where he plans to take it).
All of this has been followed up pretty nicely the past few days. Calacanis� Nanopublishing Weblog pointed me to this story in Business 2.0 about Denton�s business plans. Today I learned about Denton�s own response.
Denton�s response to the Business 2.0 article (and pretty much every other article I read about the popularity of blogs) boils down to media being fascinated with blogs because they�re a type of media. The media loves to talk about and hype the media. That�s understandable. And I think it�s mostly true. Happily, I�m one of those relatively young big-city guys that could read about media all day. This kind of thing fascinates me. Nanopublishing / micropublishing / whatever you want to call it is of interest to me and has been since I was 13 or 14, when I created my first comic book oriented �zine. That�s what makes me think niche weblogs can work as a small business. People, especially those in the 14-30 demographic, love navel-gazing. Creating a blog, or commenting on blogs about subjects they are passionate about is a lot of fun!
One thing that wasn�t made especially clear in the conversation between Calacanis and Denton a few weeks ago (that Meg Hourihan briefly touched on during her part in the conversation that night) is that weblogs can alternately go in two separate directions � the niche publishing about select topics (Hollywood, DC politics, gadgets, magazine design) and the intensely personal (of interest to a select group of friends). What�s interesting about those two formats is they way the authors handle information. In the more business oriented blogs, the discussion is formed around links to articles published on the web by others. There is some original reporting, but it doesn�t happen as often. With more personal weblogs, the focus of the writing is often a reaction to the day�s events, or a specific response to universal themes about the human condition (okay, okay, I�m really reaching here). As a heavy reader of blogs, I like both. And there�s room for both on the internet.
Anyway, if you're curious about what others had to say about the event at the Apple Store, Gothamist's Thank You has a full slate of comments and trackbacks. And Jeff Jarvis also has a bunch of links.