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    The Blogosphere Needs to Mature — But How?

    by David Cohn
    July 29, 2008

    I’m leaving Chicago, physically tired but mentally invigorated.

    1. I was inspired by the loft and good natured vibe of Knight’s mission.

    2. Took time to rethink my personal blogging motivation and experience.

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    3. Worked more on pushing spot.us into existence. (latest design work here).

    But in this post I want to take a moment to examine the evolution of
    technology reporting, particularly from large/mainstream technology
    blogs (think TechCrunch). I am in part inspired by a blog post from Robert Scoble on how tech blogs have failed.
    The reason I’m interested in this space isn’t just because I’m a huge
    geek (I’m a tiny geek, thank you very much). Rather it’s because I
    believe tech blogs are the canary in the coal mine for the future of
    general reporting.

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    My theory: Reporting on technology issues are far more evolved online than most general topics.

    Possible Reasons Include

    1. Beatblogging effect: tech-reporters are always connected to their sources/readers through digital tools.
    2. From above: Tech blogs are driven by personality. (Robert Scoble is a great example).
    3. From #2 tech reporting online lets quality writers rise through “naked conversations” with audience.

    Reporting on non-tech issues often lack these and other qualities. I
    don’t know why and that might be another post. But let’s keep going
    with this thought experiment – technology blogs are more evolved than
    local community reporting/blogs. So – we should study them to find out
    how general reporting might evolve as well.

    Let’s look at Robert Scoble
    closer. Here’s a self-made tech-reporter who now has a book and works
    for Fast Company. He has reached a critical mass of readers and respect
    through blogging so that a company (Fast-Company) can sell enough
    advertising around him that he is able to report on technology issues
    full time.

    Thought experiment:

    What if Robert Scoble pitched his readers on a tech investigation he
    wanted to do? Sure, his output might go down a little, but his readers
    would know why – he would be working and digging deep for them.

    Could it get funded in a week?

    1. If his readers decided it was of value to collectively purchase Robert’s time and reporting skills – sure.

    I’m not insinuating that the first Spot.Us beta-test should be with Robert Scoble.

    1. Don’t think there should be a “technology” section at all. Business yes, but not tech for tech’s sake.

    2. Would prefer to test at a smaller scale to start. Sorry Scoble ;)

    But imagine the scenario now with a reporter/blogger who covers a civic issue.

    1. Might not have Scoble-esque numbers, but readers are just as
    passionate. Even more so, since their issues aren’t being covered by a
    million-and-a-half tech blogs.

    2. Potentially able to distribute the cost over enough people to purchase reporters time.

    Non-tech blogs can now start to produce or publish high quality content they might not afford otherwise.

    1. Non-tech reporters begin to evolve to reflect their wired counterparts, which is to say, now the general reporters are beat blogging, showing their personality and having naked conversations with their audience.

    Independent content providers can dedicate themselves full-time to
    doing what they do best: report. If the public has a freelance budget,
    reporters don’t have to wait for an editor to approve their story. Now
    they can seize the day and pitch the public.

    Technology blogs can learn a thing or two here as well.

    Technology blogs tends to be surface-level reporting because output
    = more eyes = more advertising = stay in business. I think this is
    partly what Scoble was talking about in how tech blogs have failed.
    Is there a way around this via someone like Robert Scoble selling
    themselves ala-cart as an investigative journalists in technology?

    This is the model that I hope to see for spot.us. Yes, it’s
    ala-cart, but that doesn’t mean surface level reporting, it means
    reporting on demand. What we have now in technology tends to be surface
    level and I want to find a way so that general reporting doesn’t become
    merely about more eyes = more advertising. General reporting is a civic
    resource and it needs to find a way.

    And so, we move ONWARD!!!!!

    (Cross posted from Spot.Us blog)

    Tagged: reporting spot.us tech blogs unity08
    • David,

      For the site I run, I read a lot of local public affairs blogging and know more than a few public affairs bloggers in person or by email.

      I have to say that I am pretty skeptical that what you are talking about can work on the local level, not because their aren’t local bloggers who naturally have the right temperament or who have some reporting background. There are some in every state.

      What I have a hard time imagining is local bloggers with a large and diverse enough audience that they would be able to raise enough money and then be independent enough to come to conclusions that their audience wouldn’t like without facing a huge backlash.

      I hope I am wrong and I’ll bring this up over at the BNN Broadcast blog to see if I can get some discussion going.

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