Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Experiencing Technical Difficulties

I write this with no idea when you will actually be able to read it. If you haven’t noticed, being a blogger on Blogger has pretty much sucked of late. Two Sundays ago they had an announced outage for an upgrade and things haven’t been the same since. Trouble uploading posts, trouble getting into comments, unannounced outages, multiple outages announced at the last minute and viscously slow downloads at all times. Not only has it been difficult to post in a timely fashion, it’s been nearly impossible to keep up on what my favorite Blogger bloggers are doing.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about a recent post on keng’s blog about his experience working at Mapquest back when they started moving onto the internet. This passage in particular caught m eye:

. . .Gopher . . . Usenet, e-mail, and so on. Most of these concepts were quickly forgotten in rapidly changing maelstrom that the internet quickly became. It was a fun era fraught with copyright litigation (such as the Barbie Doll satires or the proliferation of scanned Dilbert cartoons) that I suspect was a lot like when radio was first taking off in the 1920s.

It feels to me like we’re in the waning days of the similarly wild-and-wooly rise of the blogosphere. As Jeff Hess recently noted, estimates on the blog population approach thirty million. The blogosphere has seen its share of successes – regrettably primarily on the Right – but the end of the Hackett campaign is if nothing else symbolic of the limitations of blog power.

Meanwhile, we increasingly see astroturf blogs, viral comments, accusations – true or false – of Astroturf or virus, blogs as adjunct to mainstream media properties, blogs from establishment figures.

And I wonder about the future of Blogger as part of all this. Can Google continue to offer it free and keep it viable? If it goes to a pay service, what then? Few have found a way to blog for profit. Certainly, millions of bloggers will fold it up. And the fact is, a huge part of the audience for blogs is other bloggers. Will the blogosphere collapse under its own weight?

Only a fool would predict what happens next, and I’m feeling oddly unfoolish today, so you are left to ponder and, if the comments function happens to be working, discuss.

And while we’re sorting all this out, I helpfully suggest a new marketing slogan:

Blogger: Worth Every Penny.