In response to my column about monoculture and podcasting, a reporter from a nationally known news organization contacted me for more details in hopes of determining whether a special report on blogging, RSS-type syndication, podcasting, social networking, and monoculture (all interrelated) might be worthwhile. After a phone interview and several e-mails, the reporter checked with her source in the financial sector (a source that probably makes his living sizing up the investment significance of technology) and wrote back to me:
The analyst said that the number of people engaged in the blogosphere was too small to be noteworthy.
In exchange for a promise not to say who the reporter was or what outfit she worked for, I asked if she wouldn't mind if I also republished my response as a blog entry -- and she agreed. Feel free to comment with your own evidence; the reporter is watching. Here's a cleaned-up version (with some additional material that wasn't in my original reponse) of what I said:
Let's look at blogging. Bloggers like Robert Scoble, Dan Gillmor (formerly of the San Jose Mercury News),and Doc Searls are getting some serious attention. Ask yourself, where is their traffic coming from? Clearly, the people frequenting those personalities were doing something else before blogging came along. Now ask yourself, why is almost every major media organization running RSS feeds? Because RSS is the new killer app of the Web. It is a major content consumption channel and, as with the Web, those media organizations know they can't beat it, so they joined it. Blogs are stealing the time of their audience members. Every minute I spend reading Sun COO Jonathan Schwartz's blog is one less minute I spend looking at CNN.com, some other site, or my television.
Now, not only do these media organizations have RSS feeds (CNN just launched its RSS feeds), many of them also have bloggers. And the political conventions had bloggers. If blogging is so insignificant, why are major executives like Jonathan Schwartz and GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz doing it? Or why is Harvard running conferences on it? Or what about the official blog of the Kerry Edwards campaign? How can anyone say that blogs are insignificant?
As to the negligence of podcasting, well, I agree that podcasting is in an embryonic stage. But negligible? Is that how we should have assessed the Web in 1993? Podcasting is the audio Web. Podcasting got its start barely five months ago and already WGBH is podcasting "The Morning Stories" and WNYC is podcasting "On The Media" and there are so many other quality podcasts on specific topics of interest to focused demographics. For example, Tim Bourquin's Endurance Radio for endurance athletes has interviews with Olympic gold medalists and has sponsorship from Gatorade. How perfect is that? An athlete can use their iPod or MP3 player to listen to relevant content about endurance sports while training? So convinced is Bourquin of podcasting's importance that he's starting a conference called "Podcast & Portable Media Expo" that will launch in November. Imagine that! Since August 2004, with literally no technology support from the vendor community, podcasting has taken off, having gone from 300 Google results in October to over 1 million today (1,070,000 when I last checked), and from zero podcasts last summer to over 2,000 now."
Obviously, there's so much more that could have been said that I didn't have the time to say. For example, after being "Scobleized," Microsoft's JobsBlog netted 6,000 applicants and 55 hires. Or perhaps the same financial community that pushed Google's stock price through the roof is in disagreement with that same company's acquisition of blog infrastructure provider Pyra Labs (Blogger.com). Are you outraged? Particularly at the notion that blogging is insignificant? Must have been a mistake. Or, maybe you're in ZDNet reader Randy Geise's camp. Said Geise in an e-mail to me: