March 6, 2005

the death of metablogging


Let's face it: The era of "Metablogging" is well over.

Much of what fuelled Metablogging (i.e. "blogging about blogging") in the last few years was the rather quaint & somewhat endearingly pathetic, semi-tragic, sophomoric hope that if you write about blogging for long enough, somebody will magically appear out of the woodwork and give you enough cash to live comfortably on. Forever! Yay!

Whatever. The more interesting era of the blogger who "actually does stuff" began a while ago, even if the metabloggers were slow to catch on. Joi Ito is a good example. As is Mark Cuban. As is Tom Mahon. As is Fred Wilson.

A lot of "A-Listers" (a term that seems emptier by the day) are metabloggers. The more of them that disagree with my thesis, the happier I will be.

Posted by hugh macleod at March 6, 2005 5:23 AM | TrackBack

There is a certain satisfaction coming from seeing one's words on the page. It matters not what they say, they simply exist.
Long live verbal diarrhea.

Posted by: visage at March 6, 2005 9:22 AM

You're, like, my new hero.

Not because of this post specifically, but just in general. I found you through your creativity piece on ChangeThis (which totally rocks, btw), and usually when I find a blog I like I just read through the past week or so of posts, add it to my news reader, and just read the new stuff... with yours, I've read all the way through to the beginning of January.

You have a very refreshing way of looking at things and it makes me excited about the future because of all the changes that are likely to occur.

Posted by: essey at March 6, 2005 10:04 AM

I've always another name for what you call metablogging: "blogsterbation". The folks who do it seem to enjoy it, but it doesn't do much for anyone else.

Posted by: Craig Danuloff at March 6, 2005 5:50 PM

Any predictions about when we can expect the death of "the death of metablogging" metablogging? I've been reading this post since early 2001, when it wasn't particularly new, and I've yet to see a cogent explanation of why, if it were true, anyone would feel the need to write about it, and wouldn't find their writing about it to simply be more of it.

Also, should anything be read into the fact that at least three if not all four of your examples of proper blogging blog about what they do with an enormous pile of money?

Posted by: Phil Ringnalda at March 6, 2005 7:21 PM


I am largely sympathetic with your position (sorry dude), and the myriad of "me too" blogs that add little has long irritated me a bit (particularly given I try to actually provide some kind of original content at mine)

I guess there are two interesting issues though.

1. Why have metablogs traditionally been so successful?
2. (an ancillary issue) Do they actually add anything? Is there actually something meta about them?

To answer the second question first. I think they often do. They bring taste, relevance, aggregation based on perceived shared values and interests. Given the simply enormous number of potential blogs and other news sources, we need intermediaries to help us find relevant information. Now, software based intermediaries (like technorati and so on) don't work in the same way human based ones do.
Technorati does not have taste, a set of values, something human we can share, in the same way that human metablogs do. So I think part of their success is the human connection they make between their readers and the information they link to.

The first question is superficially similar, but actually quite different. The success of metablogs lies in karma whoring (actually that's a bit unfair, as the motivation for most if not all of them is not primarily if at all karma whoring, but the result is the same. So let's call this a Karmeconomy).

A blog is successful as a function of its connectedness. The more people who link to you, the more successful you are. But how do you get people to link to you? Ah, you link to them.

Now, metablogs are at a distinct advantage to blogs whose primary focus is their own ideas, opinions and so on. They naturally point out. It's in their DNA to link to others.

Perhaps the problem is that we think the Karmeconomy is important (bloglines, blogdex, technorati all value blogs according to their connectedness).
But is connectedness a good measure of value? Does connectedness translate into often read blogs? Does connectedness translate into helping shape people's idea, opinions and behaviors?

I really don't think so.

I think the value of a blog lies as much in much less easily measured variables than connectedness. How often are articles read in full? How much does a blog start conversations (through comments at the site, through trackbacks, and so on)?
What percentage of its readers return time and again?

But these are very hard if not impossible to measure.
I also think metablogs don't do these things nearly as well. They aren't in their nature.
Metablogs are "tick and flick"
They are still about broadcasting, not conversations. We are comfortable with them, because they map onto our existing models of media.

But yes I'd say their days are numbered.

Posted by: John Allsopp at March 6, 2005 9:52 PM

Phil, go ahead and metablog all you want. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing it every day...

I just don't happen to think it's where the most interesting part of the blogosphere is happening right now.

But if it's working for you, I'd say carry on, happily.

Posted by: hugh macleod at March 6, 2005 11:08 PM

I guess what kind of metablogging you target.
I'm more concerned with the technic and the future trends.
Also, I do not want to be dependent of an employer.

Posted by: BobbyMasteria at March 7, 2005 6:17 PM

Hugh: Phil asked a great question about piles of money, but instead of answering it, you metablogged.

I can understand why: Criticizing metablogging is like refuting Ann Coulter -- it may feel good, but it only makes them stronger.

Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead at March 10, 2005 3:48 PM