In the last couple of days I’ve seen a couple of things. First was this post on 37 Signals where MK asks if they jumped the shark, which was followed by this one where they decide to close comments by default, caused in no small part I’m sure by the viciousness of some of the comments in the shark entry. I also read this post by Miss Sushi about people bragging and starring on their blogs (see note). The two posts stem from different events and the two address different issues but in my mind they are connected nonetheless.
The term blog refers to the technical and visual combination of a few characteristics, they are not a philosophy of writing. At first they were all personal, all ad free, all unrelated to companies. Not anymore. You can regret those “good old days” but that doesn’t mean people going in another direction are wrong. I kind of dislike that certain big companies are blogging when it’s easy to realize it’s just a new outlet for PR shite. However, when a blog is used by company, transparently, to show their personality and communicate with their clients/users/peers, it can be something great and, even if different from the original blogs, still very much a positive use of the medium.
The Gawker Media blogs for example, aren’t personal grassroots blogs like the originals but they are very different from classical media and yet are real blogs. The 37 Signals blog is a good example of a company showing their personality, so is Particle Tree. The Surfin’ Safari blog is a great example of transparency and closer contact with customers, so is Ranchero. Douglas Bowman on Stop Design doesn’t sell stuff but it’s a fabulous window on his professional services. On this very blog I don’t write about xhtml and css techniques much but it’s still brought me more contracts than any reference from my previous job.
Who’s a real blog? Who’s not a “good ole blog” anymore? Blogs aren’t “less pure”, “less sincere”, they’re more varied and used in a wider spectrum of ways. It’s a testament to the vitality of the form, not to something ending.
Which brings me to the second point, it’s never been easier to find more content, more blogs on the web. There are literally millions of blogs around, it’s easy to change the channel. Why the heck do people harp on blogs they don’t like anymore? Leave, it’s so easy. And I’m not talking about running away or ignoring criticism. And I know the line here is thin and personal but if you read through a few of the comments on 37 Signals I think you can see the difference between giving a thought out opinion and just bitching.
This one, by Anonymour Coward is fucking useless and vicious for no reason:
this is just more of that “i feel low today, so lets have our readers blow smoke up our asses” … your book should be titles …Getting it Done, with a Warm Fuzzy Glove and some Lotion by 37 Signals … External validation isn’t endearing, and it certainly wont get you chicks in a bar… grow a set
While this one, even though the Signalers might not have liked it, says something intelligent:
And finally the “less is more” mantra is getting a tab bit old. I realize this is how you differentiate your firm, but we got it, less is better then more. By trying to tie this mantra into so many of your posts, where at times I think it is a stretch to say the least, I think you actually do a disservice to your firm. You water down your core identity. But heck, that is just my two cents.
A couple of blogs I loved closed down a while back because of the loads of crap that would fall on their heads every time they posted. Jason closed his comments on most posts, in part because he didn’t have time to moderate the flow but also in part because of the insane noise that some generated. It’s also those same throngs of morons that make large swaths of Slashdot unbearable and if you look at a lot of the comments on digg posted links, the same thing happens. Total and uther disrespect to everyone in an annoying number of comments. On anything popular it’s hard to hear the valuable stuff over the “stanley cup finals” level of noise the legions of dumbarses generate. Fun, lots of fun.
Bottom line, everyone’s got an opinion, happy to see everyone express it but if it’s just trolling crap or simply something you don’t like anymore. You can move along.
Note: Almost took that link out, just related to the first point really, not the crapping throngs ;).