Are Blogs Still the Wild, Wild West of the Internet?
If you were to examine the reasons the West was won, tamed, and settled, it wouldn't be because of the the Colt revolver or the Winchester rifle.
What civilized the West is the same thing that has had a civilizing influence on everything it touches. We're talking about money, of course. And wherever there is a lot of money to be made, the law isn't far behind.
In order to exploit the vast wealth in western states, dirty, lawless mining towns and wild '49'ers had to give way to bankers, gold assayers, the merchant, and eventually the rail road man. The truth is not too many individual miners ever struck it rich. It was the same in cattle towns, in silver towns, and any town that sprang from the earth almost overnight. It wasn't until the west started to really organize itself into large scale, industrial mining and ranching concerns that real wealth was created.
In truth, here at the Blogworld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas, one gets the feeling that blogs have now transcended their wild and wooly early existence and thanks to the civilizing influence of money, have grown to have an impact in politics, in war, and most especially in business.
Clearly there are still some "Wild Bunch" bloggers out there. And long may they live free to blog about anything or anyone they see fit. But blogging has become an enterprise now, fully integrated into business plans, marketing strategies, and political campaigns. As such, the tone and tenor of blogs have gotten more serious.
Blogworld recognizes this and caters to it. By dividing bloggers into "tracks," attendees are offered a smorgasbord of options regarding their choice of panels and seminars.
There is a Beginners Track, an Advanced Track, and a track devoted to the new media of podcasting. There is also an entirely separate track for those in business which includes topics for entrepreneurs, on monetizing your blog, and a track for executives who blog.
Beyond that there is Godblogging and Milblogging, sports blogging, and political blogging topics as well. And the topics reflect the everyday problems bloggers encounter. "How online conversations change markets," was one such seminar with Paul Gillin giving a fascinating account of how markets can be affected by social networking.
The Monetization Track featured four separate sessions on how to turn your blog into a money maker. The Executive Track had one panel with attorney Brett Trout on "How to keep your blog out of court."
What all this points to is the fact that blogs have come of age. We've already seen the impact political blogs can have on the process. Now we are seeing blogs make money for their owners as well as sell products for the businesses who start one. It is a brave new world and compared to the lay of blogland as it was three years ago when I began to blog, the difference is night and day.
At bottom, having a blog invites conversation. And despite competition for links, for readers, and for recognition, bloggers will continue to explore new ways to communicate as well as exploit their website in order to make some money. The purists may deride it. But given the nature of commerce and how it is exploding across the internet, blogs are simply along for the ride - one more way to sell a product, or an idea, or a cause.
Not quite the "wild west." But perhaps not quite civilized yet either.
Rick Moran blogs at Right Wing Nut House.