[Bonus Video Link: Loic Le Meur interviewing Jeff Jarvis at Davos recently.]
I suppose one of my seminal “blogger” experiences was following Jeff Jarvis’ thoughts on what he calls “Exploding Media” over the last couple of years.
For all its amazing insight, the first thing you have to understand about the Exploding Media thread is that it isn’t rocket science. To quote Clay Shirky:
“So forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this — the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast.”
Yes, it really is that simple. And Jeff was one of the first people who [A] really understood it and [B] was able to explain it to large amounts of ordinary people.
Jeff gave up his career as a heavyweight big-media exec a couple of years ago in order to start up a business helping big media companies better understand this brave new world he and Shirky talk about.
And from what I can tell, he’s done a damn fine job of it.
My favorite recent line of his: “I say media companies must turn from owning content to enabling networks”.
A worthy goal; it certainly gives one’s brain something to chew on, although I’m not sure if it’s realistic, to be honest.
Sure, if somebody like say, Time Warner wants to help sort out my social thing, bless ’em, though I’m not convinced they could do a better job than much smaller, focused companies like Six Apart or WordPress, not to mention countless other bloggers I know personally. And the latter don’t have a board of directors, nor vast armies of shareholders, celebrities and employees to keep fed and watered.
Basically, I’m not convinced this “top-down evolution of old media into new media” story, however fascinating it is to watch, is really all that useful to the average blogging schmoe, trying to make a living in the here and now.
Sure, it might be considered “news” to some that Time Warner now allows its Tom Cruise publicity nuggets to be distributed via RSS. Or that one of their companies, AOL bought out the Weblogs Inc network [the latter being a company I have nothing but admiration for]. Or that The Guardian in the UK has embraced blogs in force. But how does the average person take that information, and turn it into cash to feed his family? And do it yesterday?
Whereas, compare that to one self-employed guy I know [who shall remain nameless], who isn’t even on the Technorati 1000, yet every Movable-Type-powered blog post he writes, on average, nets him $25,000-$50,000 in new business. What can I say? The latter, what I call “The Global Microbrand”, in terms of my own selfish needs and ambition, is a far more powerful and useful an idea to me.
I’m not dissing Jeff or what he’s doing. Far from it. He’s one of my top-ten or so “must reads”. But I’m not always convinced that the people he is paid to help are all that relevant to the Global Microbrand space.
I guess that’s OK. “Sixty million blog, sixty million business models” etc.
Just let’s say, as the blogosphere matures and more high-profile people start making the big money [e.g. Arrington, Calacanis et al], and big media companies start embracing Web 2.0 technology in all sorts of ways, sure, it makes for entertaining reading, and it’s a good thing all round to be happening, but neither should we forget the little guy doing extraordinary things, quietly away in the corner. And utterly transforming his career in the process. The latter is to me where the real action is. In terms of pure selfish economic need, this is where more people are most likely to succeed.
We live in interesting times.
[Global Microbrand Archive is here.]
[UPDATE: You’ll understand where Jeff Jarvis is coming from far better if you watch the Loic & Jeff video, linked above. Thanks also to Loic. Great stuff.]