Weblogs vs. Old Media

April 04, 2003 8AM PST

A guy conducting a research study on weblogs e–mailed me this week. He wanted to discuss potential commercial applications. It wasn’t a question I really had much interest in, since I’d rather not see weblogging become a corporate thing. But I guess it’s as inevitable as the .com rush so I’ll likely have to grin and bear it.

The exchange got me thinking, and spurred by my reply to a recent comment by Kris, I clarified my cynicism a little more. Weblogs have been touted as an alternative to traditional, mainstream reporting. The eye on the street for the people, by the people; Sallam Pax being the latest big story.

So if they start becoming muses for the corporate world (as is, inevitably, inevitable) then what happens to this resurgent vox populi? I see the old media embracing the new form, and while it may stay fresh for a while, we’ll inevitably see a lapse right back into the old habits.

I think traditional journalism is looking rather shaky, with the publishing power that average Joe now has. Given corporate sponsorships and almost willful censoring, the internet is casting a lot more doubt than ever on old–school reporting techniques. But they’ll find a way to survive; through homogenizing, no doubt. Their livelihood depends on it.

That’s why everything popular goes commercial, when it comes down to it. The Old Ways of doing things have the pockets to adapt to the New Way. Without the ability to adapt, they’re dinosaurs that sink into the mire of their obsolesence. Keeping a finger on the pulse of pop culture is the only way to predict new trends.

Beginning of the trend: Project Blogger, and the Raging Cow debacle (who have given in and resorted to a more traditional marketing site, if you haven’t noticed yet.) It’ll get worse. Personal sites will take on ghost writers, corporate sponsorships, and I can see one or two selling their voice to the highest bidder. Jason Kottke, in the words of Nestle, anyone?

Just wait, it’s coming.