I've been thinking about the blogosphere for some reason and have reached the conclusion that it will become just like any other media industry out there.
We hear all this talk about how blogging is the great democratizing force, how it will result in everyone having an unoppressed voice, and this will bring an open media platform controlled by citizens, and how all this will lead to love, peace, a utopian society, kumbaya, yadda, yadda, yadda…
Great ideals but nothing like this will ever happen, not because the idea of a peaceful world is flat-out impossible, but simply because supply/demand forces will cause the blogosphere to look like any other media industy.
We're already seeing the first phases of this filtering as the blogoshpere is split into seperate classes such as A-listers, B-listers, and so on. Soon all that will really be left is the top few classes. These will be bloggers that blog because of some ego satisfaction gained by having a large audience, monetary reasons, or blogging as a mouthpiece for some organization (these reasons are very general and I'm sure there are subcategories as well as other reasons). The rest of the bloggers, those writing just for the hell of it, will tire of spending time writing for a zero person audience. As many in the latter group will retire from the blogosphere, the A-listers will become the most obvious available option for blog readers. Of course there will still be other bloggers but the audience sizes they command will be so small compared to the A-listers they will hardly matter, sort of like the numerous D-grade movies made every year but viewed by all of 4 people.
This group of A-listers, or the A-team as I'll call them, is showing signs of acting like a single media empire. For instance, I've been noticing that very often this group talks about the same topic and link almost exclusively within the group. So if Om Malik blogs about the umpteenth video sharing site, this gets blogged by TechCrunch, and then by Silicon Beat, and so on. Also, by linking to mostly each other, the huge traffic that each A-team member gets stays within these bounds. Since these blogs have "authority" and loads of traffic, almost by default, blogs written by this group work their way to the top of memediggers like memeorandum. This further increases both their authority ranking and traffic numbers, thus solidifying their position.
The trouble is that like other media this too could be manipulated by corporations, thus putting a prompt end to any chance blogging had to be a powerful citizen's voice. As mentioned, many of the A-listers (in tech) often are covering the exact same topics. So, wouldn't it be great for a corporation if there was one entry point for which to market their product, and then have it re-blogged by all the other A-listers to capture the largest possible audience? This would be no different than a company approaching ClearChannel and having its products pimped on the top radio stations.
Federated Media Publishing, a intermediary between online advertisers and publishers, is well on its way to taking advantage of this trend where the blogosphere consists of only a few top bloggers. To have the privilege of publishing ads distributed by Federated Media Publishing you must be hand-picked them, and only the cream of the crop, aka the A-team, will have this chance. Next, Federated Media has introduced a new section which aggregates from only 25 of the top tech blogs, thereby cutting out all those deemed unworthy. It's interesting to think whether FM will become the ClearChannel of web 2.o.
Don't get me wrong, I really like the business idea of FM and it will likely become a successful company as we move closer to this new blogoshpere (don't worry, I'll refrain from calling it Blogoshpere 2.0) controlled by the few blogging elite. The point is to show that we've already started down this road which will ultimately lead to the demise of the happy blogosphere of present.