The “Lazysphere” and the perils of aggregation

Steve Rubel wrote an interesting post today on the disappearance of deep blogging and the steady transformation of the ‘blogosphere’ into the ‘lazysphere’. He points to the current practice of many bloggers of simply jumping on the bandwagon of the story-du-jour without adding anything in the way of insight or added value to the discussion.

This is, indeed, an interesting trend, which I think highlights a number of features in a maturing blogosphere.

First, where blogs emerged originally as a new medium of self publishing and self expression, where individuals outside of traditional media could express their views, it has since evolved into a ‘set-up-your-account-in-five-minutes-and-speak-to-the-world’ tool for any and all to use.

This change is important. With no real barrier to entry into “publishing”, the field has become crowded and the commitment to creating content need not be particularly high for someone to, nonetheless, go ahead and start blogging.

So what’s the motivation? I would like to believe that there is a desire to share, to expose your ideas to others and to gain validation and further insight from their responses. This is, ideally, the collaborative core of blogging. Let’s not call it content; let’s call it ideas. Ideas are fed to the world, where they can flow freely between connected writers and readers quickly, being built upon and improved as they go.

But there is also more immediate motivation. To be ‘well known’. Nowadays, getting a spike in hits and a jump on technorati is the same as getting published. And this leads to more readers, more exposure and – maybe, just maybe – the chance for some kind of tangible payoff, nay, fame.

So how does one achieve this? Well, the network effects are all about flocking and aggregation. You could somehow do something so astounding that the world will notice, or tag along behind a topic that everyone is already looking at, hoping to snag some long-tail readers and traffic. By chasing after every little blip in the consciousness of the network, a blogger not only increases their chance of getting collateral readers, they also fulfill the desire of the crowd to have a steady stream of new (let’s not call them ideas, let’s call it…) content.

And that’s why blogs like Steve’s are valuable; though there is a huge amount of chatter out there, engaged individuals within the network can help steer us towards those who, despite the pressures of the swarm – continue to produce…what shall I call them…


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