June 08, 2007

The Biggest Blogs Aren't Really Blogs Any More

Though my stance is likely a controversial one, I don't believe that the most successful blogs out there are really blogs in the true sense of the word as they were originally intended. Instead, the uber-blogs, like TechCrunch, GigaOM, Engadget, Mashable, Read/WriteWeb and others, have morphed into a new phase of their lives, mimicking old world media.

While millions of people continue to create popular and less popular Web logs chronicling their thoughts, lives and activities, TechCrunch and the rest have instead turned into product announcement and release launching pads, typically lacking a personal touch or insight. They have evolved from their own mouthpieces to instead, mouthpieces for others.

Gone is the personal touch and feeling that is so embedded in the blogosphere, replaced by an air of elitism and selective news aggregation mixed with startups gleeful over a successful data point of public relations.

It's been proven that popular blogs can retain the very personal one-to-one conversational style. Great examples of this include Robert Scoble's Scobleizer, Dave Winer's Scripting.com, Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion and Jason Calacanis. But especially over the last 12 months, you can see a divergence, as the blog powerhouses are much less about the comments and conversation, and more about them acting like media. Meanwhile, old media, primarily those covering technology, are adding interactive tools made famous through blogging, like comments, and the ubiquitous "Digg This" icons on every story. The convergence of old media and new media is happening before our eyes.

This change isn't necessarily all bad, but I strongly believe the time to refer to these new media sites as "blogs" is gone. TechCrunch, in my opinion, is no more of a blog than is Computerworld, InfoWorld or eWeek, these days. Even InfoWorld has gone solely online, ditching their print magazine equivalent. The site's historical roots are truely embedded in the blog world, but you could say the site has grown up - now with a full network of sites, and even a trade show for startups looking to use the platform as their springboard to fame.

Will all blogs that find success move away from their humble origins? Likely not. But even as we enjoy the scoops, product introductions, reviews and obituaries from TechCrunch, GigaOM and others, we should make a conscious attempt to recognize in this new world of media and the "24 second news cycle", that the landscape is rapidly changing and definitions need constant tweaking.