Tag Archives: blogging

Huffington Hubbub

Much hubbub and several hilarious cartoons have been made over the sale of the Huffington post to AOL. The deal resulted in a  315 million dollar paycheck to Arianna huffington, and a big fat zero to the dozens of unpaid bloggers working under her charge (they gathered under the #huffpuff hashtag). It’s a sticky story to say the least. Arianna Huffington, champion of the poor, downtrodden and the not quite yet poor and downtrodden (some would call it the “middle class”) takes a dump truck full of money for selling work that other people did for free. The Hypocrisy would have been delicious if only it were true. It turns out that the unpaid bloggers made up only a small portion of the site’s traffic and advertising dollars. Still, the controversy begs the question: How much is writing worth?

The bloggers who were incensed by the AOL deal may be victims of old world media thinking, where people are supposed to get their news through large media companies like the Huffington Post. They haven’t realized just how much the game has changed. Exposure can only take you so far. A small audience can be much more valuable, especially if they take action based on your words. This action could take the form of buying a book, attending a speaking engagement, or even just attending a meetup. The power of your words comes from their ability to move people, not just their ability to grab eyeballs. Unfortunately, this involves a real direct engagement with readers, which is uncomfortable to people used to dealing with only editors of newspapers and sites like the Huffington Post. Still, people are willing to invest a lot of trust in an individual human perspective. There are many writers who realize this idea and profit from it even today.

Sources: New York Times, Bors Blog

Criticism and the Web

“Mommyblogging” (one word) was the recent topic of choice for Heather Lyn Fleming’s Master of Communications Thesis at SFU. Through a myriad of collective blog posts, Fleming wanted to know if she could delve deeper into the story behind the tweets. What were these writings telling us about modern-day mothers?

When the Mommybloggers in question saw the findings of the thesis, enough of them were horrified that the hash tag #creepythesis came to be. It’s not that Fleming was accusing them of locking their children in pet carriers or anything like that, it’s that the assumptions, gleaned from their publicly available writings, were incorrect. Fleming tried to paint a picture of these bloggers’ households that they had no control over, and this was simply unacceptable.

I can see how some people see the internet as this world-wide private journal. Look at my infinitesimal website stats if you don’t believe me. But if irrelevance is your only defense against scrutiny, you might be expressing yourself in the wrong medium. If we want the internet to fulfill its true potential, we need to accept that it is the most public and accessible form of communication there is. If people misunderstand you or if they don’t like your message, they are now able to tell you and the only thing you can do about it is write them a sternly worded note. This kind of criticism is no reason to abandon blogging all together. The greater good of any debate is served by more voices, not fewer. Just be prepared to take part in the debates that you start.