Monday, October 27, 2008

The End of Free Blogging?

Andrew Keen thinks that the economic downturn will signal the death of people -- people like bloggers -- offering their labor for free:

So how will today's brutal economic climate change the Web 2.0 "free" economy? It will result in the rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash; it will mean the success of Knol over Wikipedia, Mahalo over Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), over the, iTunes over MySpace, Hulu over YouTube Inc. , over, TechCrunch over the blogosphere, CNN’s professional journalism over CNN’s iReporter citizen-journalism... The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren’t going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some "back end" revenue. "Free" doesn’t fill anyone’s belly; it doesn’t warm anyone up.
Well, duh. I mean, why do you think I've spent so much time pitching ideas to MLBTV lately?

In all seriousness, I get this. In fact -- and I don't plan on going into too much detail about it for now, so please don't ask -- the downturn is affecting me in a pretty directly negative way, so I can understand and appreciate the need to get paid for one's labor. That said: this blog, while a labor, is a labor of love, and I can't see anything that would make me quit doing it. It would be fabulous if I were paid to do it, but that's not why I started it and won't be determinative of how long I continue it.

I won't sit here and say that I understand a fraction as much about the Web 2.0 "free" economy as Andrew Keen does, but I tend to believe that all of the bloggy/wiki goodness it has sprouted is not a function of people saying "well, I make enough money elsewhere, so I'll do this for free." To the contrary, I think people have said "Wow. This is neat. I think I shall do it some more."

(link via Sullivan)


mooseinohio said...

When ones blog is technologies version of a water cooler then I suspect money is not a huge concern. I visted several blogs regulary throughout the week, one connected to my vocation/advocation (fortunately for me I have been able to combine the two in many ways) and two to take a break from more demanding (both time and energy) part of my day. If one is writing a blog as a form of respite then I would suspect that they'd be having similar conversations in a different medium if the blogging outlet were to be taken away.

What would be cool for someone like Craig, who - let me know if I am wrong - has expressed a desire to be more involved in writing/covering baseball as a living if this blog provides him the exposure to the powers that be who may grant him that opportunity. If Shysterball were to end because Craig gets a fulltime gig writing about baseball and had to disband the website for whatever reason - I would celebrate his great fortune and find another outlet for my daily respites. Of course since I appreciate his take on baseball and other things I'd more than likely find him in his new venue and continue reading his works, even if I could not communicate with him as we do. Of course I subscribed to ESPN TheMag and became an Insider soley to continue reading Peter Gammons as I have been reading his columns since the early 80s. Now that I have Insider status I read Olney's daily blog as well as those of Neyer and Law but maybe twice have ever read one non-baseball Insider article. But I am a bit of a freak when it comes to following baseball, fortunately blogs like this make me feel a little less like a freak.

Hi ... my name is Mark and.. I.. I.. I'm a baseball addict.

leez34 said...

I'm missing one of those analogies: isn't Hulu just as free as YouTube? It's just because there are some ads on it?

Pete Toms said...

I read Keen's book ( he's pretentiouis, he calls it a polemic ) "The Cult of the Amateur" this past winter. I found it a smart book and I share a lot of the problems he has with Web 2.0. I.E. I agree that a lot of good journalists who have done good, credible work of vaule are losing their jobs because of Web 2.0. I read recently that 4,000 journalists in the US lost jobs this year. Here, 2 long time foreign news correspondents have lost their jobs with our version of NPR. Again I think this is due to the negative affect that the web is having on big media news organizations.

Having said all that, I think Keen is wrong here. I think practically nobody that blogs blogs because of the $$$$ - they are plenty astute enough to know how very unlikely that is to happen.