Thursday, July 13, 2006

Top Blogging Subjects

There is an odd assortment of topics that is the mainstay of the Internet digerati. I don't know if the question is "Who died and made these people experts?", or simply "Why are these the main topics?"

One might naively suppose that the top blogs would cover topics very similar to the topics covered in mainstream magazines and print journalism. After all, people are people. Magazines and newspapers surely know their audiences, and these audiences can't be that different from the blogging audience.

OK, only 15% of the world is online, and even less read blogs, so we may slant our audience assumption to include readers with more interest than average in tech and other more educated subjects, such as science, politics, and news.

The topics covered by Amazon's top 100 selling magazines include: tech, celebrities, sex, lifestyle (including beauty, crafts, autos, and cooking), sports, news, music, general consumer products, science, investing, travel, history, cultures, children, health, business, photography, animals, video games, anime, literature, architecture, and RPGs.

While Infoplease's top 100 magazines cover: Finance, literature, television, lifestyle (beauty, house, autos, crafts, cooking), news, celebrities, travel, health, sports, sex, parenting, video games, architecture, science, culture, music and entertainment, and scouting.

Let's look at the topics covered by the top one hundred blogs, according to Technorati. Other blog ranking services are similar, and I'm skipping the blogs that are not in English.

The topics covered include: politics, celebrities, cool or weird things, lifestyles (including cars, cats, and yarn), hardware, software (including video games), personal journals, and marketing.

That's it? That, in itself, is strange.

Strange thing number 2: Cool/Weird things, such as Boing Boing. Do we have an equivalent like this in mass market media? National Enquirer? No, BB is better than that. What is it about blogging that make it the right medium for this type of reporting?

Strange thing number 3: Personal blogs. Would 50,000 people subscribe to Paul Graham's paper magazine? Maybe not, but perhaps that many would listen to his radio program. Think Alistair Cooke, perhaps. OK, not so strange.

Strange thing number 4: Marketing. That includes Seth Godin, Micro Persuasion, Shoemoney, Gaping Void, Creating Passionate Users, 37 Signals, Buzzmachine, and Problogger, not to mention Performancing, a couple of search engine blogs, and who knows what else, inside and outside the top 100.

I consider this the grand-daddy of strangeness. All of these people are interesting and can write well, and what they are writing about is how to sell things.

I can't help but compare this to the "I made it big and so can you" hucksters that we've seen in every generation, on every frontier, and in every other media. And I don't know how to say that without it sounding sour and nefarious. Maybe "I made it to the top; let me help you".

Personally, I love reading Gaping Void. But I reserve a big dollop of skepticism that marketing has been suddenly reinvented, or that all of the old ways are out and only the new ways are in.

Marketing is a big sexy topic of the nineties and today. Marketing is our interface to big corporations. The writers of cyberpunk imagine that these corporations are taking over our lives in the way that big government wants to. Just pick up any book by William Gibson. Maybe there is some truth to this. But it seems a strange obsession.

Half the time the blogging world is warning us of the danger we face from encroaching corporate power (IP abuse and so on), while the other half of the time they are selling us ways to make our businesses more slick.

There are no major marketing magazines in the top 100. Suddenly we find ten marketing experts in the top 100 blogs. Is blogging really the first voice that they have ever had? Are people suddenly interested in marketing? Why are there no major marketing magazines, television shows, or radio programs?

Strange thing number 5: Look at what's missing from the top blogs. I would expect sports. Nope, no sports blogs. No general news that is not political opinion. No finance, literature, culture, science, sex, music, parenting, photography, travel or architecture. is a little about sex, so maybe there's that. But no literature? Reader's Digest, Harper's Bazaar. No science? Discover, Scientific American. No culture? Smithsonian, National Geographic. No health? No finance? Where are these bloggers?

We bloggers are still living in a myopic world.


1 comment:

Mischa said...

Perhaps the marketing blogs simply know how to market their blogs better than the scientists.