In a post bragging about how great Gawker Media is doing, company marketing strategist Erin Pettigrew takes shots at a few bloggers who were skeptical seven years ago that a professional weblog network would make money:
... when the controversial Gizmodo launched (laying the foundation for Gawker Media), the self-important digital punditocracy debated this 'commercial experiment' in blogging as a viable, interesting, useful, or scalable business:
Dave Winer: It's such a stale idea. The Web is distributed. Try to get the flow to coalesce in a premeditated way. Not likely to work.
Anil Dash: Will it be profitable? I think it's possible but it's much more likely to break even long-term. Which, for the publishing industry, ain't too bad.
Matt Haughey: It's still too new of a site, but I'm looking forward to seeing how well written it is, and if it keeps me coming back. If so, and it makes the people behind it money while doing it, maybe professional blogging can work afterall.
It's fun to look back at those comments, but calling the bloggers "self-important" suggests that Gawker has been nursing a grudge all this time, which is weird considering the tone of the comments that were quoted. Most people were skeptical back then that a pro blog network could work. This was a good thing for Nick Denton's company, because otherwise he would've faced more early competition.
Gawker's also the last place in the world that should be offended by critical bloggers, considering the hard-edged writing that typifies its blogs. The Gawker Media empire is fueled by snark, cheap shots and venom. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
-- Rogers Cadenhead
Was the Matt Haughey quote included just to get 3? It's funny to see a blog company talking about "the self-important digital punditocracy", but this post was written by someone who was like 16 when the original lines were written. Seems just a lack of perspective.
I find it amusing that you had to use archive.org to get the blogroots quote.
huh, I'm not even critical. If you look back at the thread, I'm the only one positive and rooting for them (because at the time I realized I was 30 and I spent the last few years killing myself writing blogs and I wanted to know that someday I could get paid for all the work).
Matt: Looking back at that discussion, you're not critical at all. And I'm there too:
Gizmodo looks interesting, but I wonder if it hurts the site to be so upfront about the fact that it was launched as a money-making venture. ... I wonder if it will stunt the site's growth, since commercially successful weblogs up to now have all resulted from a grass-roots, word-of-mouth, oops-we're-making-money approach.
I spent too many years treating a desire to make money with web work as excessively crass. I blame my background in newspaper journalism, where most people on the editorial side thought it was a badge of honor to ignore all of the commercial considerations involved in running a paper.
Yep, this piece is less about nailing skepticism and more about reflecting on how far we've come from uncertainty. The 'self-important digital punditocracy' and subsequent quotes are a winking jab at the fact that even to the leading blogging experts, commercial blogging was an unknown. The contemporary wisdom at the time was that Nick's foray was an unproven business, especially since blogging was still quite a separate phenomenon from traditional publishing. The two have been merging in terms of business model and media consumption since then, which means it's much easier to see why Gawker Media has succeeded. The juxtaposition of then and now makes for a pretty interesting perspective.
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