Anyone who thinks the blogosphere isn’t big hasn’t been paying attention.
Blogging has moved far beyond a hobbyist phenomenon and proved itself a legitimate news force and shaper of opinion. Homeowners are swarming finance blogs for information on the financial crisis. During Microsoft’s (MSFT) battle for Yahoo! (YHOO), blogs drove the news coverage, stock prices, and even analyst reports. Voters are learning as much about the Presidential race from DailyKos, Drudge Report, and Talking Points Memo as they are from cable TV. Bloggers Arianna Huffington and Michael Arrington are among Time‘s 100 Most Influential People, and their respective mini media empires are now worth $100 million or more, according to industry estimates.
But increasingly there’s a sense that the blogosphere lost a lot on the way to getting big. Jason Calacanis, one of the first to make serious money off blogging (when he sold his Weblogs to AOL for a reported $30 million), recently announced his “retirement.” “Blogging is simply too big, too impersonal, and lacks the intimacy that drew me to it,” he wrote in a press release-sounding post. A lot of people dismissed the announcement as a publicity stunt.
Yet the drumbeat has only gotten louder. Last year, Robert Scoble, who made his name blogging, lamented that tech blogs had let readers down; in their obsession with page views, blogs were forced to play the PR game and serve as outlets for embargoes and product releases. Then there was the widely read New York Times article chronicling blogger burnout.