Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Wharton School on the Future of Blogging

Click here for AmazonI haven't read something quite as disappointing as the Wharton School's analysis of the "Future of Blogging" in some time.

The article's omissions -- whether through sheer inexperience with the blogosphere or willful neglect -- are almost shameful. The following are some excerpts that caught my eye - my comments are in bold.

"This is not a fad. It's the rise of amateur content, which is replacing the centralized, controlled content done by professionals." --Dan Hunter, Wharton legal studies professor

True, but I'd hardly term articles by Powerline's three high-powered attorneys, 'amateur content'. In most cases, bloggers like Hugh Hewitt and Powerline offer superior investigative, organizational, and writing skills -- along with advanced knowledge of the legal system. Contrast that sort of experience with, say, that of an AP stringer... and while there's a mismatch between amateur and professional - it's not the one that Wharton intended to highlight.

...In the future, Fader says, a technology may be created to rate credible bloggers. The system, which would operate like eBay's buyer and seller ratings, could create a blogger pecking order based on readers' opinions...

Uhmmm, well, there already are blogosphere rankings like TTLB's Blogosphere Ecosystem. And Technorati has been tracking blog popularity through link relationships for quite some time. Either system can be used to rate credibility.

...investigative journalism will still be the hallmark of the media. "First-hand reporting will be the distinction between blogging and journalism," Hunter adds.

You must be joking. Investigative journalism like Rathergate and the Eason Jordan affair? Or first-hand reporting from the frontlines of Democracy in Iraq or the tsunami-devastated towns of Banda Aceh and Phuket?

Bloggers do firsthand and investigative journalism better than the MSM - because bloggers are everywhere... and their credibility is at stake with every story, due to the inherently self-correcting nature of the blogosphere.

While corporations can chalk up blogging as a marketing expense, the story is a little different for individuals. Can blogging pay the bills? If you are lucky, you can pay the hosting fees, but that's about it, say Wharton experts.

Uhmm, better get some new experts. The major blogs are making serious coin. Drudge is reported to have made millions in advertising revenue from his site. Using the blogosphere's leading ad network, Blogads, I've calculated some ballpark revenues for the following sites:

$6000/week - Daily Kos
$4000/week - Instapundit
$4000/week - Eschaton
$3750/week - Little Green Footballs
$3000/week - Talking Points Memo
$1800/week - Hugh Hewitt
$1600/week - Wonkette

Of course, this doesn't count their ad revenue from GoogleAds, associates' revenue from Amazon, and other ad networks. So, even in my brief survey, there is some ca-ching occurring on the major blog sites.

The article was passably interesting, but certainly did not appear to have a good handle on the evolution of the blogosphere. In fact, if I said, "Haloscan" to the unnamed authors, I'm betting I'd get a "huh?" in return.

A disappointing effort, especially given the Wharton's School's excellent track record. Wharton on the Future of Blogging

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