Niek Hockx writes on blogging weblogging conferences:
“It is of course a well known fact that geekers and geekorettes get off simply on the fact that a new and exciting technology exists, without asking themselves for one moment if that technology is actually the best one to communicate a message to the world.
To me all that live conference blogging looks a lot like trying to reinvent the wheel. IMHO a simple old fashioned, automatic video camera on a tripod and some Quicktime streaming over the Internet would do a much better job at getting a keynote speaker accross than 10, 12, 20 people all trying to keep up with him or her, sort of quasi stenographing the speaker’s words, in a difficult to read, reversed chronological order on a web page.”
This meshes nicely with some thoughts I’ve been writing about how many “key” webloggers have begun to only focus on themselves, their linkage and their “great” ideas, forgetting that most people know nothing about weblogs and are perhaps just a bit curious.
Speaking to the small crowd at my local Mac User Group (MUG) about weblogs really brought to the forefront some basic issues about weblogs, what they are and how people perceive them. Regular readers of the big discussion threads in the blogosphere can easily get caught up in the finer points of the weblogging discussion (RSS, accessbility, who invented blogs, “j” vs. “J”, etc). It’s tempting, no easy, to get caught up in the same group of people that go from conference to conference, like a travelling show, talking to each other about weblogging. Now don’t get me wrong, these discussions are very important and pertinent to some webloggers, but they should not be the main focus of discussion.
Oh, so you invented weblogs? Who cares. Oh, you get 4,000 hits/day? Who cares. Oh, you started an online publishing software company? Who cares. Oh, you fly around the country for each and every conference some guy with too much time and money puts on? Who cares! Who cares, who cares, who cares.
The point is being missed and some of the people involved in the tech and intellectual side of weblogs have turned inward, focusing only on themselves and their neat ideas. And yes, your ideas are interesting, dare I say, intriguing. However, they are not in focus with the people who want to learn more about weblogs or, imagine this, start one of their own.
This was apparent to me as I attempted to introduce an audience of 30+ to weblogs. I began with a question: “Who has a weblog?” No hands. Okay, “who knows what a weblog is?” No hands. Wow. Suddenly I found myself in the position of evangelist and educator. Where are the weblog evangelists? I’m not talking about people who evangelize to other conference attendees, many of whom already know about weblogs. Who preaches to the people? Dave Winer does it at Harvard. He was brought on-board to initiate weblogs at Harvard. Okay, we have Dave. Who else? I honestly cannot think of anyone.
Webloggers, and I’m making a gross generalization here, are caught up in their own pile of shit at the moment. We are not toppling major government officials, we are not stopping wars or affecting world events. We think we are much bigger than we really are. Sure, we have many loud voices online. But we need more if we really want to return to web to the individual person.
During my presentation I was asked why weblogs were started. Tricky question and I wasn’t sure I knew the exact answer off-hand (remember I was pinch hitting and had only 10 minutes to prepare). So, how did I answer? I said that weblogs were formed to bring back the individual voice to a web that has been overrun by corporate thugs, threatening to turn an excellent medium into television. I don’t know who said this, hell, I don’t even know if it’s true. I do know, though, that it’s the reason we should be preaching weblogs to those who have not yet been introduced to them. Just because everyone at every conference you go to is blogging and has a blog does not mean everyone blogs. Turn around and look outside your circle. Stop talking to the same people. Try to initiate conversation with some new people, people who are still learning how to converse with the weblog medium.