Monday, May 08, 2006

Content vs Commentary

I know I've talked about the matter before, so I apologize, but the exchange in the above link is too good to pass up.

Although blogs are still a fairly minor phenomenon in readership if not visibility, there is certainly a subculture of bloggers, with its own set of virtues. The object of adoration for bloggers is content, and the ability to produce content is central to any blogger's sense of self-worth.

Now, because the phenomenon of blogs can be traced back to before simple tools became widely available, there are two interconnected, but distinct types of blog. The newer type, of which AnTyx is an example*, consists of articles. The older type consists of links to interesting articles elsewhere. While it may seem like content aggregators are a Web 2.0 thing, they have actually been around in the time of Web 1.0. In fact they were around in the time of Web 0.1, a time before Google, when actually finding content was a task upon itself.

Jalopnik, as a business venture and part of the Gawker corporation, is an aggregator. They have recently started posting reviews and road tests, but most of the website is filled with links to articles, news or just random stuff on other websites.

It's different from a category on Reddit by the fact that they provide a paragraph or so of commentary. And this seems to give them a huge sense of self-importance, closely intertwined with insecurity, about being a source of content. Most of the time, they are not, even if they do think themselves good enough to regularly criticize actual print media**. Being called an aggregator is, in blog circles, a mortal insult.

* I'm not a blogger, thank you. I'm a writer, a technical writer by day job, a linguist by education, a journalist by experience. AnTyx has a very minor readership - two dozen daily visitors or so - and its only point is as an archive. When I write something, I want to see it freely available. If nobody cares, that's fine.

** I called Robert Farago on his "Between the Lines" thing, and he asked for my credentials. Since a reader of AnTyx may have legitimate reason to ask, "and who the fuck are you, Flasher T, to criticize others?", I'll be happy to present them. I've written for mainstream media since I was 11, briefly ran the automotive section of, and freelanced for the entertainment section of the Baltic Times before deciding I'd had enough of the bullshit and I'd really much rather work in a software development company. Jalopnik brushes off demands for basic literacy with the argument that they've never claimed to be either professional or writers; well, I'm both, and I say that a blogger nitpicking on the work of people who actually managed to get a job at a proper newspaper is at best sour grapes, and much more likely simply being a dick.

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