posted by Daniel Solove
A CSM article discusses the Pajamas Media, an entity that aims to gather together the best of the blogs under one umbrella:
If a single thought-provoking weblog can find a large audience, might 70 or more linked together start a revolution?
That’s what Pajamas Media hopes to find out. Backed by $3.5 million in venture capital, the nascent media company has gathered some of the most highly regarded bloggers on the Internet at one site (osm.org), hoping, as co-founder Roger Simon puts it, “to be the place for breaking Internet opinion.”
According to Pajamas Media, the goal is:
PJM’s mission is to expand the influence of weblogs by finding and promoting the best of them, providing bloggers with a forum to meet and share resources, and the chance to join a for-profit network that will give them additional leverage to pursue knowledge wherever they may find it. From academics, professionals and decorated experts, to ordinary citizens sitting around the house opining in their pajamas, our community of bloggers are among the most widely read and influential citizen journalists out there, and our roster will be expanding daily. We also plan to provide a bridge between old media and new, bringing bloggers and mainstream journalists—more and more of whom have started to blog—together in a debate-friendly forum.
Pajamas Media has thus far landed with a thud. Its website has been criticized as being too boring and corporate. People are claiming it is politically unbalanced with too many conservative bloggers.
In response, Pajamas Media founder Roger L. Simon explains in the CSM article:
Simon promises a livelier front page that will pose a controversial question such as “Should the UN run the Internet?” and then let its bloggers have at it from all sides. The site employs editors in Los Angeles, Sydney, Australia, and Barcelona, Spain, so that it can be updated 24 hours a day. And it’s streaming in feeds from conventional news sources while developing its own “fact checking” system to ensure the quality of its information.
Some of my thoughts and reactions:
1. Where’s Concurring Opinions? We’re not included. This is clearly a big strike against Pajamas Media!
2. Pajamas Media seems like a corporate wrapping around the blogosphere. It has too much of a corporate structure and neglects one of the key elements of the blogosphere — the unexpected way various blogs gain attention from the ground up. Blogging is a bottom-up grass-roots kind of practice, not a top-down enterprise.
3. What’s the value added by the Pajamas Media website? It claims to gather the best information in the blogosphere, but how? Blogs themselves are a filter through which we interact with the Internet. We look to bloggers to make us aware of the best and most interesting information and stories on the Net. Pajamas Media aims to be an intermediary between us and the blogs:
“There’s a role for a new kind of intermediary, people who are in essence editors who help you choose by hand [the] voices that you’re interested in hearing,” he says. Search sites such as Technorati.com try to sort through the blogosphere for readers, but with millions of blogs out there, they have a huge job.
But the value of the intermediary is that we trust the intermediary and enjoy the intermediary’s voice and opinion. That’s one reason why people read blogs. Hiring a bunch of editors to do the sifting isn’t quite the same. Blogging is about personalities, distinctive voices, and possessing some kind of expertise or special body of knowledge.
4. In a discussion over what Pajamas Media should be, Glenn Reynolds writes:
My thoughts on the site: (1) It’s too sterile and corporate-looking; (2) The logo — which I guess will be obsolete — is similarly sterile and corporate-looking — Pamela of Atlas Shrugged said it looked like the logo for a women’s health clinic; (3) I like the newsfeeds, but I agree with Jeralyn Merritt that they’re not optimized for the kind of things that bloggers want.
The page, overall, has too much mainstream news content. And it’s too short — keep scrolling with a blog, and you see new stuff. Keep scrolling with this, and it stops!
I do give Pajamas Media credit for having an open discussion about itself on its website. This is one of the things that Pajamas Media has done that’s in the true spirit of the blogosphere.
5. A big problem with Pajamas Media is that it hasn’t figured out how to take advantage of the great inclusivity of the blogosphere. The blogosphere certainly has its big blogs — the Instapundits, etc. — but part of what makes the blogosphere great is that there’s a conversation between many blogs, big and small. It’s about the Instapundits linking to some obscure blog out there. In other words, the blogosphere differs from the mainstream media in that it is more inclusive about who enters into particular conversations. The mainstream media is a fixed group of media entities who deliver news from on high; the blogosphere has a breadth and dynamism that Pajamas Media is excluding.
6. Pajamas Media needs to tap into the wisdom of the blogosphere in order to reform itself. In other words, instead of a top-down model of editors picking things, perhaps it should work more in wiki fashion, with folks appending to the site various snippets and links from blogs across the blogosphere. Editors can help keep the wiki running smoothly, but a bottom-up approach is more in the spirit of the blogosphere.
7. Where are the comments? Where’s the vision for the community? Pajamas Media has positioned itself as an outsider that aims to fish around the blogosphere and then try to transform its “catch” into something akin to the mainstream media. This seems very antithetical to what blogging is all about.
8. Perhaps Pajamas Media should pose the question to the blogosphere. Why not ask: “What do you want?” Or perhaps pose the question this way: “We have $3.5 million in venture capital to create a great new tool to aid the blogosphere. What should we do?” Why not find out what the blogosphere really wants before trying to graft on a rather alien framework from outside?
In short, the blogosphere has succeeded by working from the bottom up. It is experimental, inclusive, spontaneous, collaborative, creative. Perhaps Pajamas Media should give up a bit of control and let those in pajamas build Pajamas Media, rather than those in suits. But doing something this risky would demand truly having faith in the power of the blogosphere.
Hat tip: How Appealing