Doc Searls has always been my favorite “A-list blogger.” Part of what I like about him so much is how uncomfortable he is with that tag. Famous people who love to be famous for its own sake have a strong tendency to be assholes, so I like my famous people to have a certain amount of reservations about it. In a recent post, Doc went off on Nick Carr about A-listiness. Preach on, Brother Searls!
It’s weird how people talk and write about the blogosphere (and by slight extension, the podosphere and vlogosphere and other other citizen media -osphere). There are basically two tones one can take. 1) Breathless euphoria about the burgeoning infotopia at hand (think, anything Christopher Lydon ever says on the subject.) 2) An odd mix of fear at the lack of hierarchy and/or assertion that the hierarchy is there and this is just like old media (think, every single story ever done by major news media about blogs, vlogs or podcats). My thinking puts reality square in the middle – blogging and podcasting are useful tools and have been positive forces in my life but let’s not get too crazy. They haven’t transformed my life into something different, they have added a little to what is already there. New media is not governed by the rules of old media, and despite how many lazy reporters assert that the goal of every blogger or podcaster is to get famous and millions of fans, it is a patent lie.
Big media says that because big media is projecting their goals on citizen media and cannot imagine anyone having goals that differ from theirs. That someone might sit down and record a podcast or write a blog regularly, have 120 listeners or readers and be completely content with that is mind-fryingly weird to them. They cannot mention it without condescension or derision because of their own failures of imagination and vision. Blogs and ‘casts scale up and down, and while big media understands scaling up they lose it when it comes to scaling down. If MSNBC was offered the chance to have their ratings cut to 25,000 viewers but be of so much relevance to those fewer viewers as to completely alter their lives to their wild betterment, they couldn’t do it. We can. Ponder that dynamic, big media, and when you begin to understand that then perhaps you are in position to write or tape your story. Unless and until then, shut the fuck up about citizen media because you fail to grasp the one insight that makes us all do what we do. When you do a story without grasping it you are really reporting about yourselves and your own fears, not us.