Live by the word…
Tuesday, March 9th, 2004
Reflecting on the recent loss of one of his star employees, Nick Denton writes:
For those of you who doesn’t follow every navel-gazing twist and turn of the blog world, Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc., a rival, poached one of Gawker Media’s writers, Pete Rojas of Gizmodo.
Sure, we recovered quickly. Joel Johnson, who was going to write another upcoming site, stepped in. And traffic has rebounded, though those readers may simply be enthralled by the spectacle of an online car crash happening in real time.
But the fact remains that I was caught unawares. I was in Brazil, my mind on other things. Before Pete gave his notice, he and Calacanis already had a slick copycat site — Engadget — ready to go. The shafting will be complete, today, with an artfully-placed item in New York Magazine, in which Calacanis boasts of his plans for 500 blogs. Round One to Calacanis. On to Round Two.
Is there any broader meaning to all this? Well, I have just one tentative conclusion. Blogs are likely to be better for readers than for capitalists. While I love the medium, I’ve always been skeptical about the value of blogs as businesses.
Nick artfully ignores the fact that “capitalist” and “corporate owner” are not synonomous.
Indeed, the solo writer is perhaps the ultimate capitalist, an infopreneur who is profoundly empowered by blogging and its tools.
Any publishing business with more than one employee has higher overheads and less focus than the great bloggers flooding the market with news, insights and passion. While Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis use blog technology and idioms, their business model is still old line publishing.
Boiled down, the corporate model of media (whether done by Calacanis, NYT or Advance) looks like this:
owner : 1
boss : 1
ad sales : 1
flunky : 1
writer : 1
marketing person : 1
IT : 1
The blogging model looks like this:
writer/owner/boss : 1
marketing : 100s of peer bloggers (blogosphere)
ad sales : 100s of peer bloggers (Blogads)+Google
IT : Typepad or pMachine
The second model has 10,000 times the fire power with 1/6 the mouths to feed. Would someone please explain how the corporate model can compete… what the heck am I missing?
Marx is grinning in his grave; thanks to Moore’s law and the Internet, writers now can own the means of production that, previously, only publishers could afford. The only monopoly left in media is the individual’s ownership of his or her own talent. With a strong voice and loyal audience, Rojas will be working for himself and not Calacanis soon enough.
Calacanis brags, in New York magazine, that he’s soon going to be hiring New York Times journalists and, gasp, giving them equity. Equity! Bless you master Calacanis for sharing a few precious drops of equity with a mere writer.
WTF? I guess I’m stupid. I don’t get why a writer should be excited about getting some equity and working for someone else, when he can own 100% of his own gig and call his own shots.
(I’m keeping abreast of all this by reading the incomparable Jeff Jarvis.)