a node at the edge  

August 06, 2002
MetabloggingConsortium cont.

B!x posted a link to my previous posting, Weblogging Consortiums, at Blogroots. I recommend that you read the comments attached to the posting.

In particular, Matt of MetaFilter fame believes that the concept of weblogging consortiums is too idealistic, and too based on trust. Pulling one entire comment;

    burningbird, what you describe is ambitious, but far too idealistic. I too want the world to sing and have a coke on their low-cost blogs, but you've outlined a tremendous amount of work, risk, and trust.

    When something looks like a lot of work, the natural question is to ask: why not get paid to do all that work, take all that risk, and trust people you've never met? You're proposing a team of people unconnected collectively create the equivalent of their own geocities, out of the goodness of their hearts.

    As for the people that can't afford 13 bucks a month, how can they afford a computer in the first place?

    Cornerhost is a service "by webloggers, for webloggers" as well as a few others (there's one called blogmania or blogorama, but I forget the exact title and URL) and presents plans that are lower cost than traditional ISPs. I think that's as close to someone creating something useful to newbies as you can get.

Matt does have good points, and the the reference to Corner Host is a good one. However, I think that Matt, and others, sell webloggers short. Or does he?

Something such as a Consortium would require a great deal of work, though the reliance on trust could be aided by good organizational structure and accounting practices. However, the assumption that people would require pay for this kind of work disregards all the effort that has ever been accomplished without pay within the open source movement, including Perl, Python, Apache, Linux, FreeBSD, PHP, and so on. If all the people associated with these efforts only worked for pay, you wouldn't be reading this weblog now. Most likely you wouldn't be accessing the Internet now.

But can we ask for this same level of involvement from webloggers? Don't webloggers just want to have fun?

We keep saying that webloggers are a community, that combined we can make a difference in politics, to journalism, to business, to society as a whole. Well, if this is true, then we must establish more discipline than is demonstrated in Daypop and Blogdex. Really, at times it seems as if webloggers have no more focus than a 13 year old heterosexual boy learning calculus in a room full of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders -- easily sidetracked by tantalizing glimpses of Something Interesting.

For any long term effort, webloggers are either dependent on a company -- such as Userland and weblogs.com; or we're dependent on individuals, such as Mark Pilgrim and his "Dive into ..." online books. How can we channel the connectivity and energy and intelligence and interest that make up the weblogging world and focus it into something practical? Something like a Weblogging Consortium?

Perhaps I am too ideal. I've been told in the past that I'm too ideal. And I know that with my current effort on both the RDF book and ThreadNeedle (yes, this is currently in development, but more slowly then expected) makes it difficult for me to take on something new.

However, once both ThreadNeedle and the RDF book are finished, I would be willing to explore the concept of a Consortium more fully, and work on same. But I won't do it alone. If the interest isn't there, I'll assume it's another one of my more idealistic but impractical ideas and let it die.

Posted by Bb at August 06, 2002 09:20 PM


I will be happy to contribute HTML/CSS design services, MT help/advice, and as much server space as I can. I would offer administrative services, but I'm a lousy administrator. :) I can and will handle routine contacts, however.

Is that a start?

Posted by: Dorothea Salo on August 7, 2002 08:09 AM

I think the idea of renting server space as a group is a good approach, but there is of course the organizational hassle, making sure people pay, etc etc etc. I'd be interested in seeing a situation wherein people had their choice of app server software (MT, Greymatter, Userland, Zope, etc).

Posted by: rev on August 7, 2002 08:55 AM

Money is always a sticky wicket, but counting on idealism and commitment sometimes only goes so far: not because people are unwilling, but because the amount of effort and time required conflicts with what they have to do to pay the bills. I work for a non-profit, on the paid staff, but we also have a lot of volunteers. Volunteers who are willing and excited, but often find that they can't be as involved (or committed) as they might like because of other responsibilities. Their actual jobs, for instance.

I think the idea of a consortium is a good one, and I see a lot of potential for it: ultimately, perhaps involvement with oral history projects and other organizations geared towards giving voice to the voiceless. But to work it would need to be done seriously, and that probably means (based on my current job and other non-profits I've worked for) at least one full-time, paid staff employee to take responsibility and keep things moving.

Posted by: steve himmer on August 7, 2002 11:10 AM

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