[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.]
We’re really seeing the barriers to entry dropping in the publishing world. This is increasing the popularity of Print On Demand which means everyone can be a publisher.
Oh, and since the marketing is being pushed from publishers to authors, there isn’t much of a downside. Heck, even grabbing listings for anything not in the norm is becoming the realm of the author.
Hi Hugh….as one of those “little guys” (let’s make that “little broads”) slugging it out in the blogosphere, here’s a few thoughts:
Tristan Louis and I’ve had some interesting conversations about building careers out here..which came about when a discussion heated up over how the A-list are “gatekeeping” and misleading people by trying to convince them they can make it out here on their own pluck and ambition. Neither of us feels the A-list is necessarily gatekeeping, but we do feel that, at this time, it takes a bunch of experience in something other blogging to make it *in* blogging…
I can honestly say I’ve had a tiny bit of success at blogging as a career, but it’s still a nail-biter every month as to where the next paycheck is coming from. Ads on my blogs is still an option–but that won’t create enough income. Publishing articles in online pubs helps, too(I’m writing more on citizen journalism for OJR) Blog editing for various ventures and other such stuff helps, too. But after a year and a half, I may have to bite the bullet and get a “desk job” so that I can get some experience in an old-fashioned career (like marketing or publishing) to augment all by blogospheric experience. Trying to be taken seriously without it is tough (although it’s done a bit of good for my ego–I’m always perceived as much younger than chronological age because of my blogging experience.) I think that’s the case because there’s not a heck of alot of understanding of blogging as a world of its own vs. a tool to serve something already established. Without a design background, or a publishing background or a marketing background to relate *to* blogging, lots of folks controlling the pursestrings of companies just can’t see its value. And if there’s no value (nor any ROI) there’s not going to be huge money for blogging for the average schmoe/schmoette (who doesn’t live remotely near the Silly Valley.)
“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.”
In what sense is a guy “who shall remain nameless” a brand? Isn’t one of the reasons we pay attention to the A-List because they’re public? There seems to be something a little contradictory about trying to use blogs as the engine of your business and yet not (wanting to) draw attention to yourself. It’s hard to be inspired by anonymity.
He’s not anonymous, Phil. He’s extremely well known in his field. I’m just not going tot ell you who he is.