Friday, April 20, 2007

Eventually, We All Blog for Google

Yesterday, the Rockefeller Center hosted a blogging panel, moderated by John Hinderaker of Powerline and comprised of Ann Althouse, Brendan Nyhan, Laura Clawson, Roger Simon, Joe Malchow, and Andrew Seal. It was a very productive discussion.

I came away with two main points. First, as noted particularly by Nyhan, Clawson, and Seal, there is very little that is inherent in blogging that makes it a superior form of commentary to traditional forms. We should think of them as complementary, and, as some of the other panelists pointed out, incremental to traditional media. The lower cost of blogging as compared to other media outlets means that the set of people who can contribute is much wider. There have been episodes where it has been a blogger, possibly in conjunction with blog readers, who has brought to light new information that would have otherwise been missed. Most of the time, this is not happening, and there is very little that is new in blogs. Good writers get bigger audiences, just like any other form of writing. But it is nice to have another mechanism that can occasionally make a critical difference.

Second, I began to think about what happens to blogs after the current events fade in importance. Well, then each post is just a webpage, and to a reasonable approximation, all webpages are eventually relevant only insofar as they attract the attention of search engines. I noted in one of my very first posts that I found Powerline about four years ago because I was searching for an explanation of a news story. In other words, I found them through Google. At some point, Google organizes everything in the blogosphere around what people years from now will find interesting and worth searching.

UPDATE: The D has a nice writeup of the event here.

2 comments:

alphie said...

"“Althouse” founder Laura Althouse"

???

Looking at the wingnut-heavy lineup, can we assume this is a prarody post?

Shefaly said...

"..what happens to blogs after the current events fade in importance."

Those, who write for money and yet are not on any one particular entity's pay roll, do not often share this trade secret but the trick is to choose topics that are evergreen.

For instance, I write a blog on obesity. Topical? Yes. Will fade away sometime? May be, in the common public's imagination but too many research dollars and careers are dependent on it, so it won't go away soon. My strategy? I focus not on my weight loss travails (none to report) or criticising the food industry (too common, bordering on rant and too many people do it), but on capturing and interpreting emerging research in all areas of biomedical science, food policy, social commentary in related areas, innovation and innovation funding, treatments, inter-country differences and so on. The result? A growing stream of readers in the last 8 months, with a larger % every month of returning readers. For many, it is a repository of the most important research papers published; for some, it is an information tool; for a minority, it is a place to flame me, which I can edit out if it gets too much.

PS: I also write another blog on broader topics related to work, society and politics.