Attitude Adjustment

· Weblog Concepts

Travelling upstream from my referrer logs I’ve found a lot of disdain for this Salon experiment in the established blogosphere. Some see it as a money grab by a old-school “fuckedcompany” dotcom. Others see it as a condescending evolution of the tired journalists vs. bloggers meme (which Rosenberg has addressed directly in his keystone blog).
In fact, the Washington Post apparently has an article today about this Salon/UserLand collaboration that managed to piss me off by using the term “amateur bloggers” to refer to the people who Salon has invited to contribute here. We may, some of us, be amateur writers (though others of us in fact make our livings as writers), but we are none of us amateur bloggers. There is no amateur/professional divide among bloggers, unless you view this world from the journalist’s perspective and only see the Andrew Sullivans and Mickey Kauses of the world as credible. I’d link to the article but apparently it’s not online (yet?). Someone cited it in a Well conference today.
Back in the blogosphere, many seem to react to the Salon/UserLand experiment the way Usenet denizens reacted to the flood of AOL newbies in the early-mid ’90s. As if it’s a sucker’s game. They essentially are asking why anyone would pay Salon and UserLand to start a blog when you can do it for free with Blogger and BlogSpot (and other solutions), assuming that only a clueless newbie would take that plunge.
They don’t seem to imagine that, for example, a longtime blogger like myself who also happens to enjoy reading Salon (and has already paid for a Premium subscription) may see some value in the branding and the potential audience here. Then again, I haven’t paid off my trail period yet, so we’ll see.
There are also complaints (and mockery) about the “CompuServe-like” URLs (blogs.salon.com/0001???/) and some lack of understanding about the fact that you can FTP a Radio blog to your own domain if you like.
Similarly, some have asked “What happens if Salon tanks?” Well, unlike with LiveJournal, if Salon or UserLand goes south, I can redirect my content database to a new address readily, so I’m not worried about that.
Others simply see if at the continued dumbing-down of the medium. But if that’s the case, then why wasn’t Blogger a bad idea? My first weblogs were hand-coded and FTP’d “the old-fashioned way.” On the other hand, my first real website, Enterzone, essentially ground to a halt due to the friction involved in manually updating a site that kept scaling up. I was too early for many of the automation and other time-saving tools that have emerged since (Enterzone started in 1994—it’s all still there) and not clueful enough to custom-build my own content-management system.
I probably sound defensive but I’m more reacting to the stereotyping and the jumps to conclusions. I’ve heard good and bad about Radio. I avoided it myself when I thought that all sites had the same look and I somehow thought that making your own computer the server meant that you were hosting the blog on that computer, so I even understand the ignorance. But I also see a kind of reflexive xenophobia, the kind of “we got here first, shut the door behind us” attitude that I suppose we will always have with us. I remember when bragging that you started your website in 1992 or that your site used to be a Gopher site was the pissing contest of the moment.
I’m not deliberately leaving out links to this commentary I’m paraphrasing, I just read most of it yesterday and didn’t bookmark anything, because at the time I didn’t realize I would want to remark upon it. If I stumble on the posts again, I’ll see about backfilling.