Friday, November 18, 2005

No there, there

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm probably the only remaining political blogger who's neither affiliated with, nor done a put-down piece on, the abortion formerly known as Pajamas Media. So enough already. Here it is:


I tried to be interested in what eventually became OSMTM. Really, I did. Especially after Tex McCrae asked me what I thought of it (here's what he thinks of it). I heard from a couple of others, too, and felt like I ought to have a vehement opinion. But, to be honest, I've thought from the beginning that it's the most boring, banal and stupid idea since The Huffington Post.

I don't have anything against aggregation of content (it's the source of most of my income). I don't have anything against projects designed to bring like-minded (or differently-minded) writers together for a common audience. I don't even have anything against Glenn Reynolds. Well, maybe I have something against Glenn Reynolds, but let's not go there.

What bothers me -- or, more precisely, what bores me -- about Pajam ... OSMTM ... is that it seems to be a big ugly pile of old (and for the most part not especially profitable) ideas poured into a new and not very interesting sack. All this blogospheric visionary guruism crap is starting to look an awful lot like the junk bond craze of the 80s on a smaller, but more immediately visible (thanks to the Internet) scale. Or like the "tech stock bubble" of the 90s. And it's likely to end the same way, too (although hopefully nobody will go to jail or commit suicide or anything).

I don't agree that OSMTM is a "train wreck" or anything of the sort. Big, ugly, fatal accidents are impossible not to watch. They're horrifying and they're absorbing. OSMTM is neither. To be honest, I've only found three aspects interesting so far:

1) That the OSMTM folks were able to shake $3.5 million out of a group of venture capitalists for this turkey; and

2) That half the blogosphere wants in and the other half wants to drown this butt-ugly baby before it gets around to crawling off the ledge and falling into the bottomless abyss that overhyped ideas inevitably disappear into.

3) That (legalities vague and aside), OSMTM had the gall and temerity (of the stupid variety, not the precocious/engaging variety) to grab another project's name and to set sail under a flag ("open source") that implies free use of information ... while assiduously reserving their putative rights in intellectual property.

And now, a few disclaimers:

No, I'm not one of the 230-odd bloggers who were apparently accepted as partners in OSMTM and then kicked to the curb.

No, I was not asked to join OSMTM -- and I didn't expect to be. I'm still small fry, and I know it.

No, I did not apply to join OSMTM. I drink alone.

No, I don't have an axe to grind with the OSMTM bloggers in general (some of them are quite good, some of them aren't, and it's all a matter of opinion anyway -- suffice it to say that none of them have courted my animosity in any personal way).

No, I don't especially object to the "corporatization" or "consolidation" of the blogosphere, because I don't see any such phenomenon transpiring. Not to wax all hippy-dippy visionary or anything, but blogging is easy, blogs are ubiquitous, and there's a never-ending supply of literate individuals who will continue to blog -- in an interesting manner and visibly through the search engines and the grapevine -- whether they're making money at it or not. The blogosphere may or may not be a basis for the gee-whiz business model of the future, but if it is, that model will lend itself to widely distributed ownership/production/revenues on the content side. Any big blogging revenue centers will be in the form of hosting, facilitating (i.e. better blogging apps/platforms), and providing back-end support (like making it easy to sell and run advertising -- hello, BlogAds!).

... and that's all I have to say about that.

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