In Favor of Group Blogs and Efforts

I wrote in "The Advertising Bubble" that one of the ways to more effectively monetize content and "do better on the Internet," was to combine efforts with other content producers. The key thought here is that, people only have so much time, and cooperation can allow you and your fellow content producers to pool resources, readers' attention, and business strategies.

I've also thought of this post as the "just because Wordpress, can be installed in a handful of minutes doesn't mean you should," post. The tools (and skills) required to build websites are fast, easy, and non-technical (by now) so that anyone can have a blog, or a website, or (hell, with enough time/money) a full fledged social networking site to rival digg or facebook. Just because sites are easy to build, it doesn't mean that we need to build new sites. Just because independence is possible, it's not always called for.

There are a lot of readers on the Internet, but there are only so many hours in the day. And having a dynamic site with new content, is something that requires a lot of work. Lots of people can pull it off, but a lot of people (with really good things to say) can't. This is sort of the dirty underbelly of the fact that the Internet (and open source) is a great democratizing force: because everyone speaks easily and freely, the challenge to being heard isn't opportunity, it's shear volume.

I talk with a lot of people about working with the Internet, about using the internet to promote and build various kinds of projects, about blagging, and about strategies for success. There are things that I can help people do better like having good designs, writing top heavy content (I'm bad at this), ideas for more content, strategies for posting regularly, places to network with the communities that you hope to speak to, and among other tactics. All of these things should help lead to success; but beyond persistence, creativity, good timing, and a little entropy I have no good way of beating the "volume problem," given current conventions.

The solution of encouraging group blogs rather that individual blogs is a good start. Each bloggers' responsibility to any given site is much lower than a single blogger's responsibility to their personal site. There would be fewer (new) blogs as a result of the increase in collaboration, and possibly a consolidation of existing blogs. We would also expect to see blogs more tightly focused on niches rather than individuals: niche focuses tend to do really well on the web with regards to targeting audiences, so this is a good thing indeed.

Before anyone cries that I'm trying to suppress individuality (or expression, or identity), this is very much not the case. I think static websites are really important, my suggestion isn't that people shouldn't have websites it's that they shouldn't blog on them (by default). Given the state of syndication and aggregation content, it's even possible for folks to have personal websites that aggregate their content from a number of different sources, [1] we get individuality and dynamic content without dividing efforts or audiences.

There are other solutions (curation springs instantly to mind) to the "volume problem," and I'll get to those soon. In the mean time, remember: group blogs are the future.

Onward and Outward!

[1]Think of the aggregated personal website as being the inverse of services like ping.fm, which blast your content to a host of different websites, the personal website should rather aggregate content and conversations from other websites into one location.
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