Saturday, January 31, 2009

Razib and the Big Stupid Bloggers

The situation with Pajamas Media breaking up their advertising network, which Jeff Goldstein and Ace of Spades write about, is bad news for the participating bloggers. But it gets completely twisted into something else by Razib K. at Culture11:
I got a few links from PM back in 2005-2006, very little traffic. It didn't seem like the aggregation was adding any value to the constituent weblogs. Additionally, a lot of their stuff is 2001-2004 vintage Right-of-Center media commentary, the sell-by date has long passed. Something like The Next Right is what circa 2010 conservative weblogs are going to look like, at least the good ones.
Actually, no. Sorry, Razib. The Next Right is about GOP operatives talking political strategy and tactics. This is a very important discussion, but the core audience is inherently limited. It's inside-baseball for specialists. It is not a mass-market product in the sense that, say, Hot Air is mass-market. Compare: The Next Right monthly traffic (317K visits in October) vs. Hot Air monthly traffic (21 million visits in October).

As to the "2001-2004 vintage Right-of-Center media commentary" remark, Razib utterly misses the point of what Allahpundit does: Aggregation with attitude -- and the reader has a chance to add his own 2 cents.

Look, I follow the news via blogs. I watch very little TV news and I seldom go to the Drudge Report. What I mainly do is go to Memeorandum and to my favorite blogs and follow the links. If a story is important or interesting, it will eventually be linked somewhere in my browsing pattern. Furthermore, lots of blog consumers nowadays get their content via feed readers (please subscribe to my RSS feed) and seldom browse. The big dogs of conservative blogging -- obviously including the biggest of them -- throw more traffic than ever.

So the news-value of blog aggregation is real, and it translates into traffic, and the task for an independent blogger is still (a) to find a niche or two where he can contribute meaningfully, and (b) link, link, link like crazy. (E.g., "I think Pamela at Atlas Shrugs also misunderstands what's going on with PJM.") So Razib's snarking at "2001-2004 vintage" blogging as something obsolete is absurd, and all the more absurd when he's doing it at Culture11.

What I have been told is that the main Pajamas Media page will continue to be open for business. What is being shut down is the blog-advertising network, apparently because it wasn't generating the kind of "synergy" (to use a 2001-2004 vintage word) that had been anticipated. This means a prospective loss of income to the affected bloggers, who will go back to being independent in terms of ad vending. Or . . . something.

Believing in capitalism means believing in change. It appears that the investors bankrolling PJM want to specialize more in online video production. It's their money and they can do what they want with it. (And if Vox Day wants to jeer, it's his blog, so he can do what he wants, too.) PJM bloggers know how to produce interesting online content, and they are obviously going to continue to find work, although they may have to restructure their own private operating models to adapt to the dissolution of the ad network.

BTW, did I mention that I've spent the past few months doing video editing with Final Cut Pro? Just sayin' . . .

UPDATE: You know who is incredibly sexy and also incredibly stupid? Jessica Alba. "Mass-market," see?

UPDATE II: You know who is incredibly smart and also has a sexy wife? Well, yeah, me, but also Glenn Reynolds, who talks about the online ad slump.

UPDATE III: Ann Althouse congratulates herself on her decision to avoid pajamas and keep blogging naked. Althouse points out the same problem I have with online talking-head video:
I just have no patience waiting for people to say something that I could read in
1/10 the time. . . . Why am I looking at these folks? Put it in writing!
Right. If you are a very rapid reader, TV news is much less enjoyable. The Anchoress points out something else:
Sound bites are destroying our ability to hear, converse or think, but we can't get enough of them. Unfortunately, yer girl ain't made for camera lenses. Aside from the fact that I am unable to "smile for the camera" without looking terrified, I’m also dead chubby and I understand the camera adds 10 or 70 lbs.
.Right. TV favors people who are "good on TV," an ability that is not universal. And there is a disturbing variation of the "halo effect": On TV, people with the ability to seem convincing have an advantage over less glib people, regardless of the merit of their ideas. We might say that TV is a medium where the ad hominem argument is deeply embedded.

UPDATE IV: Steve Graham speculates:
The blogger who told me about the end of PJM’s blog network theorizes that the GOP is making PJM its main Internet outlet. That is highly plausible, in view of the unbelievably stupid things the GOP has done over the last few years.
OK, I know for a fact that "the GOP" is not running PJM. They have investors, and are trying to give the investors what the investors want -- which is kind of hard to figure out. I know that during the Democratic convention in Denver, PJTV did a lot of street-protest coverage with Steve Green (VodkaPundit) doing the anchor gig. But then it turned out the investors didn't want that, and it was scrapped.

Apparently what the investors want is talking heads -- online panel shows. Fine, it's their money. If that's not your cup of tea, or you don't see the market demand, so what? It ain't your money.


  1. Personally - I find Pajamasmedia's site irritating and hard to navigate for some reason - maybe it just irritates me - so I read all the individual blogs that had PJM ads, I rarely read PJM - I hope everyone effected by this will be able to blog at least part time. As a blogger who blogs for fun and gets NO traffic, (no one cares what I think, including my family), I understand what the commitment must be. I work full time and am lucky to blog once or twice a month. I look at it as archeological evidence that I existed. Anyway - I will miss any blogs that cease to exist. I don't think enough people who read blogs make their presence known by commenting (another time consuming exercise) but I think if PJM KNEW how many people out there actually looked at the ads — well - who knows. I think the PJTV thing is stupid. I can't get it at work (when I sneak a blog break) because video is blocked. We are on the road to becoming a wordless society - or at least a society where the only supported words are the government sanctioned ones. All Obama, all global climate change, all the time, everywhere... Facebook, Google News - everything... pretty damn scary... I hope you can keep it up -

  2. Jessica Alba stupid? She was right, and you have to make all kinds of rationalizations to argue otherwise.

    You, on the other hand, are stupid AND ugly.

  3. Once again, R. S., a hilarious post! But, so true! Ironically, I do a lot of what you do. But, I do go to Drudge probably more than you. Watch Fox News. Why watch anything else? Except if you want to increase your blood pressure and be propagandized?! I blog because I think that it is important for those of us who care about the course of this Great Land to speak up. To educate those that are at the very least open to what the conservative idea is. And, I would LOVE to make money at it! Dody Jane, I started off slow but I have a following. And, it is true that going to other blogs and commenting IS time consuming. But, that makes it all worth while! I learn a lot coming to this site and it is one of my favorites. Another model will come down the road and we should not get all panicked over a change of course at PJ.

  4. I agree PJM didn't really work for me. Sometimes I found myself at the site, but it was because someone linked to an article on it; I never went there directly. I think the group has talent, but I didn't see how their being grouped together was a benefit to _me_.

  5. Another model will come down the road and we should not get all panicked over a change of course at PJ.

    Hear hear...lets hope this might remind some bloggers that gloating over loses in jobs @ MSM outlets might not be the best idea. Things are tough all over. Expect to see some these "advertising" pay to blog outfits to go under too.

  6. So Razib's snarking at "2001-2004 vintage" blogging as something obsolete is absurd, and all the more absurd when he's doing it at Culture11.

    Uh, dude? Razib blogs at; his content is just posted over to the C11 diaries. Get your facts straight.

  7. Jessica Alba stupid? She was right, and you have to make all kinds of rationalizations to argue otherwise.

    Oh please. She meant Switzerland, and you know it, but that's not what she said. Being accidentally correct about something from 60 years ago doesn't make her smart.