The Wild West of Blogs

The Internet has seen it’s share of applications or services that can best be referred to as a "Wild West". Some examples are Napster, P2P, Online Porn, MySpace, and even Second Life. In the beginning these new frontiers are wide open with few rules or policies in place. However after time and increased popularity these online destinations are soon enforced, tracked, and of course eventually abused. Naturally some freedoms are taken away to maintain the community and adhere to real world laws. These changes usually coincide at the point when serious money starts to change hands or becomes lost due to piracy of some type. It now seems that Blogs are next on the list thanks in part to some recent events:

  • Apple Gate – One of the most read blogs Engadget posts a notice about some Apple product delays and causes a 4 billion dollar loss of market capitalization in less than 6 minutes. Turns out the story was bogus even though the source was reliable and the announcement was sent out direct from Apple’s email system. Engadget could have tried to confirm the announcement better but can you blame them for the itchy trigger finger? For them a story like this is worth 10 Anna Nicole Death’s to CNN. Valleywag and Gawker (former and clearly bitter owners of Engadget) drop in on the story in true tabloid style.
  • Josh Wolf – A video blogger who was jailed for refusing to turn over videotapes recorded during a July 2005 demonstration. He served 226 days in prison, longer than any US journalist has ever served for protecting a source. How much longer is the mass media going to take Blogs having all the sources and scoops?
  • Kathy Sierra vs Chris Locke – Long story I’m sure you’ve heard about already but if not there is more info available here and here. Story reaches millions through blogs and CNN, many question what can and can’t be said on a blog post or comments. Also proves that crazy people have just as much to say as smart people do.
  • Gold in them ther Hills! – Guess what? Interesting people started blogging and in the process gained millions of readers. That leaves plenty of room for advertisements and plenty of eyes to see them. WebLogs Inc. claims to make 1 Million per year on Google Adsense alone, sells for 25 million to AOL, Jason Calacanis buys any expensive toy he wants. Over 70 million blogs have been created, only 20% with stories about cats.

Freedom of speech isn’t so much at risk here however the top Blogs will continue to face increased scrutiny and even possible liability. What started out as an online journal service has now evolved into a very powerful platform for news reporting in addition to personal ranting. I can’t remember the last time I purchased a newspaper, but I usually don’t miss a day reading my favorite blogs. The "A-listers" are quickly becoming the hubs for information that only the mass media previously received. As their readership continues to grow its going to be very interesting to see how it all unfolds.

PS. Yes of course that’s Nick Denton in black on the image above, that big ol’ head just wouldn’t fit in frame! ;) His targets are Guy Kawasaki, Jason Calacanis and Michael Arrington.

Ratings: (on a scale of 1-5 hams)

  • Fair and Balanced Blogging
  • RSS FTW!
  • Yeeeeee Haaaaaaaw!
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One Response to The Wild West of Blogs

  1. Steve S says:

    Yep, journalism has always been about getting the scoop. Now that it is easier for bloggers to get the one up on mass media, it’s becoming a little harder to tell the difference between BlogAboutCats and WSJ.

    Well, maybe only a *little* harder…