The Big Lead documented this New York Magazine article and thought well of it. I do not, and thus I am posting my revised comment to The Big Lead's post as my Friday blog ramblings. In the author's rush to document Gawker, she’s put on New York blinders so strongly that she can’t see the bigger picture about blogging. Please skim the article first, as otherwise this won't make complete sense. Sorry to blog about this and not the Indians, but I already had most of this typed up from my TBL comment.
First, I disagree with this idea that the top jobs are gone, and that's why Gawker exists. It’s not that employees are moving up the ladder, then finding they can’t make $200000 anymore, and jumping to Gawker. No, Gawker and Co are being run by very young employees in their 20’s who usually have been unable to find a job in the mainstream. And the average readers tend to be people in their 20’s, out of college, on their first job or two. Why?
Because there just aren’t good jobs for people coming out of school the way there used to be. So there’s this large segment of the population that is underemployed, in my view, and that’s where a lot of your bloggers and commenters are coming from. These people have been achievers for a while, joined lots of clubs or played sports in high school, had this really balanced life…and now they’re working at a boring job for 40K. So they turn to blogging as a hobby, and because they aren’t really able to use their full range of gifts at their current job. It's not the creative underclass in writing; it's the underemployed in society at large that are driving blogs right now. It's not that technology has changed since circa Geocities and 1997; it's that society and we have changed. Innovation happens when society is ready for it, not before.
I would also note a slight decrease in friendships because we move around more as people; thus, on-line community looks more attractive than it normally would. In addition, there’s a delay in growing up in our society; we marry, get that stable job, buy houses, etc., a little later in life than before. So it’s like adolescence is extended…and instead of having our small high school group to party and gossip with, we instead move to media culture, celebrity, or sports culture to fill that adolescent void, ha. Gawker is like a substitute for the high school/college atmosphere in some ways, no?
Finally, Nick Denton’s plan of turning contributors into commenters…it’s a trend that bloggers think they can turn their contributors into field reporters/writers and get this gigantic swarm of worker bees. It’s not going to happen. Why? Readers are lazy. As soon as it becomes work, not fun, they’ll quit. Sure, people are excited to be a part of Web 2.0 now. But I think a lot of it is a fad. I’m getting burned out on commenting, personally; it takes too much time from my job, and the pay-offs are too low. Over time, the rewards for commenting are just not high enough yet. And quite honestly, I'm tired of sites constantly trying to turn their readers and commenters into slaves for the greater glory of the site. I know that many of the site owners mean well...but I know others just want us to do their work for them. That's ok only up to a certain point. Yes, your site is free...but my time isn't.