TCS Daily

Are Blogs Busting Loose?

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds - May 9, 2005 12:00 AM

Last weekend I attended the BlogNashville blogger conference, held at Belmont University in Nashville.  It was the third conference of that sort I had attended, and it underscored the way blogs, and blogging, are changing.

In 2002, I went to Yale's Revenge of the Blog conference. In 2003, I attended Harvard's Bloggercon I. The atmosphere at this one was different.


At those earlier conferences, everyone was still focused on the newness of blogs, and on the amateur spirit, and political emphasis, that marked blogging at that point.  Now blogs aren't quite as new, and though there's still plenty of politics and amateurism, people are now talking about making money.


In fact, the two recurring themes of this latest conference were making money, and video.


Making money is now not impossible.  Some bloggers are doing fairly well; many others are at least making enough to turn blogging from a time-sink into a lucrative hobby.  Much of that is thanks to Henry Copeland's BlogAds, which has brought paying advertisers like Audi and Levi's to the blogosphere, though donations (a major source of income for bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall) and referral fees from online merchants like Amazon have also played a part.  And there are other ventures in the works that may increase both the amount of money, and the amount of attention, available to the blogosphere. 


Combining two themes in one photo: A videoblogger records a session in which Henry Copeland of Blogads talks about making money.


At the local level, there's a lot happening too.  Check out this site, a web-based newspaper, community forum, and classified advertising site that also hosts TV commercials for an idea of what the future might hold. With a bit of tweaking, this could be a local-paper killer.


On the blogging side, at least, you can make too much of this:  During a panel on blogs and journalism, J.D. Lasica turned to me and asked if I were planning to quit my dayjob for blogging.  "No," was my rather emphatic answer.  But things have reached the point at which it's now possible to earn as much by blogging as one can earn in many entry-level journalism jobs, and it makes an excellent marketing tool for free-lance writers as well.


The feel has certainly changed.  A couple of years ago, many people seemed vaguely embarrassed at the idea of making money from their blogs.  There was much, much less of that this time around.


The other new emphasis was video.  There are a lot of videobloggers now, and this conference featured a lot more video being shown, and taken.  There was a crew of documentary filmmakers making a movie on blogging, but they were outnumbered several-to-one by amateurs capturing video for live streams or for posting.  Many, many bloggers are incorporating video interviews and reporting into their work, and I think that within a year or so we'll see videobloggers beginning to compete with television news operations -- especially local television news operations -- in quite a few places.


I've pointed that out before, but we definitely seem to be at a tipping point.  To illustrate how close we are, I did some interviews of my own, using the video function of my Sony digital still camera.

(640x480, 30 fps).  It's not television-news quality, but it was done on the fly with a camera that cost $300 and fits easily in a pocket.

Tools like this are the future.  If I ran a newspaper, I'd give one to each of my reporters, and encourage them -- in the most meaningful way possible, with bonuses -- to conduct video interviews and reports that could run on the paper's website, the better to fend off the kind of challengers I link above.


For a look at the conference participants, and their attitudes about what's going on with blogging, as well as a look at the kind of video interview I'm talking about, follow the links below.  I've been saying for a while that blogs have a multimedia future, and I think that future is almost here.


WMV, medium-sized:


WMV, dialup:


QT, medium-sized:


You can download directly from these URLS.




TCS Daily Archives