Friday, November 25, 2005

Thoughts on OSM, the Blogging World's Big Train Wreck

I tend not to talk about "inside blogging" stuff often here. Many of my readers don't read other blogs and could care less about what is often called, the blogosphere. (A term I dislike, by the way. It seems so 1960s Tomorrowland to me, not at all descriptive of a twenty-first-century phenomenon.)

But there's been a blogging world train wreck unfolding over the past week. At a New York City party, a new blogging clearinghouse was launched. (At least I think that's a good description of what it's supposed to be, although I can't be sure.)

The founders decided to call it Open Source Media (OSM), but quickly had to retreat from that since the name was owned by another corporation. They've now decided to call themselves, Pajama Media (PJM), the name which they'd originally taken for themselves in honor of an insult once hurled by a CBS news executive at bloggers as people who sit at their computers in their PJs.

At a deeper level though, the entire effort has been marked by a lack of clarity. The movers and shakers behind OSM/PJM seem to want to be media moguls while retaining the personas of blogging media gorillas. But their product thus far, seems aimless, superfluous, and vacuous.

Ann Althouse has been repeatedly critical of the enterprise and has now posted about the self-criticism happening on the OSM/PJM site. (To see the self-criticism, click here.) I had a few thoughts I shared at Althouse's site. They're shown below.
My take on the whole OJM/Pajamas Media business is:

(1) When they first announced the thing months ago, I didn't get what they were trying to accomplish and now that they've launched, I understand it even less.

They talk about encouraging the sponataneity and freewheeling-ness of blogging. But since that already exists, how is that encouraged through the establishment of a blogging portal that appears designed to create a blogging pecking order of ins and outs? The whole bunch seems to have traded in their pajamas for suits while wanting to pretend they're still in pajamas. It's bizarre!

(2) I think that part of the problem with the entire OJM/Pajamas effort is that it misunderstands blogging at a fundamental level, even though its founders themselves understand blogging very well.

While blogging is dialogical and creates all sorts of links and conversations between people, it is still fundamentally an individual pursuit.

And I think that's for the best. There isn't a single group blog that I read with any regularity. I like going to blogs where, on a daily basis, I not only will be informed or enlightened, but will have those things happen through the prism of a particular individual's perspective. The best blogs are written from the vantage point of one person, the more individuated and almost iconoclastic, the better.

Group blogs, which to the extent I can understand OJM/Pajamas, it appears to be, feel like conversations interrupted. They get homogenized and in the cases of both OJM/Pajamas and Huffington, corporatized. They seem irrelevant and very like the mainstream media they claim to eschew.

(3) I hate the logo. If the OSM logo looked like the symbol of a trucking firm, the PJM logo looks like something you'd see on the label of a women's garment.

Other than that, I think that Pajamas Media is a great enterprise.


Free at Last! said...

If you are like me,you hate people who just comment just for the sake of having their link available to you,all in the hope of a return visit.These comments are often just a copy/paste dealie they place on every blog they come to.they never even read your stuff.
I would not be making this comment except I read that you where wanting to read blogs that where individuated and almost iconoclastic,and that discribes my works to a T.
I am always getting favorable ccomments so I must be getting through to some.Hope you'll visit,but even if you don't.keep up the good fight,and tell them you don't even wear pyjamas! I don't!

Lores Rizkalla said...

Mark, thanks for clearing up the whole thing for me. I didn't follow this closely but sure sensed what you have just so eloquently expressed here. I have not yet seen the logo, however.

One of the things that I love about Hugh Hewitt, King of the blogs, is that he appreciates and even encourages the uniqueness of a blog.

I remember clearly as Hugh encouraged bloggers at the God Blog Conference to specialize, to become the go-to person on a particular subject.

Keep up the great work, my friend!

Mark Daniels said...

I remember that advice, too, Lores, and I agree that it's sound. My problem is that I'm interested in lots of different things. But I do pass on commenting on subjects about which I know nothing...something which may not always be apparent!

Thanks for dropping by and for your very kind comments!