Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#(2^8) - On attack, on defense, on the internet

I have known my friend Etarran to look down on me for reading Boing Boing. Or, I guess look down on me for giving any kind of credence to the politics of its authors, or the veracity of any news I find there, or something. Anyhow, Boing Boing. Apparently having it as my home page (in Linux) is worth making fun of, even. Well, maybe I'm not being entirely fair.

"Anything [Loud] does is worth making fun of"

- [Etarran]

Anyway, the only reason I bring it up at all is this. It's a look at the inner workings of Boing Boing, insofar as they exist. And - as the author correctly identifies - what makes BB interesting in the age of "monetizing" and "[jargon]izing your revenue streams" and professionals whose job it is to help your dinosaur corporation look fluffy and interactive...is that it's not really about any of that. Oh yes, it's profitable (seven figures of profitable, even!)...but its audience (and, therefore, its revenue) seems to be drawn not to some clever marketing ploy, but to an honest kind of stream-of-consciousness writing from a host of intriguing minds. The kind of blogging that's been declared dead seventeen times over in the wake of facebook/twitter. The kind of blogging that the internet forgot when blogs went mainstream.

The most surprising quote from the article - in my mind, anyhow - is:

"Denton tells me his io9 site, which focuses on science fiction and weird science, was built specifically to compete with Boing Boing -- and points out that, according to Quantcast, it already has more readers. "Io9 is like Boing Boing without the complacency," he says."

It's weird that he doesn't get it. Boing Boing trades as much on personality as on content. IO9 can't really compete. I don't think it could emulate BB (try forcing spontenaity sometime), and for that matter its contributors have their own personalities. Furthermore, IO9 can't help being so much more commercial in its outlook. What's on the big screen next year? What just happened on Lost or SG:U? Why isn't Joss Whedon working on the new Buffy reboot? (And why is that even a thing? THAT SHOULD NOT BE A THING!). The mad science demographic probably overlaps pretty nicely between the two, but I don't really understand how I09 is supposed to be the competition: it's more focused, much less off-the-cuff, and to be blunt it has never once exhorted me to "just look at" this banana-related product. I read both BB and IO9, and really I had never conceived of one being positioned as "competition" to the other. This isn't Popular Science vs. Wired Magazine...this is, I dunno, Hollywood Insider vs. That Guy With Opinions at your Local Hobby Shop. Different categories. I wonder how you can be such a force in the blogging market, and not understand that you can't really even "compete" with people who don't really think too hard about their market share, and don't even think about what they're doing as a job.

He's declaring victory in a game they weren't even playing


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