Dissecting Scoble’s Recent Outlook On Blogging

Robert Scoble wrote yesterday about how he seems to be yawny about blogs lately. I couldn’t let this slip by without taking a closer look at his observations. Here’s the line-by-line:

  • He says: “Blogs have lost their humanity. Their weirdness. Instead we’ve become vehicles to announce new products and initatives on.”

    For one thing, I question who the subject of that last statement is. If he’s referring to himself and his circle, that might be worth noting. I don’t share the same sentiment, and I think even for someone who keeps tabs on 900+ feeds every day as he does, it’s still tough to make that claim as anything other than what you’re observing in your chosen reading patterns. You’re a victim of your appetites. I understand he might be suffering from format fatigue having been involved in this game for so long, and that in the interim an entire sub-industry has developed around using blogs as a better news-breaking format. But there’s lots more going on in the world of words. In the comments, I offered the challenge that he ought to trade OPML with a different person for a week, abandoning his current feeds temporarily, and see if he still feels the same. One might also ask whether he’s getting burned out on his own pursuit of news about new products and initiatives. He could give that a rest for a while.

  • He says: “We’ve gotten too caught up in the TechMeme games.”

    Not all of us, probably not even most of us. I rely on TechMeme as a reader, but my interest in getting on TechMeme doesn’t affect what I choose to write about. I know there are a ton of people who are dying to be “discovered” by the known industry bloggers, but there are also a whole lot of people who are not in it for that at all. I liked Robert’s videos on gaming TechMeme, but would have equally liked something less breathless and more structured and thought out. He seems to be calling out a pursuit that he’s been directly perpetuating, which is a bit weird.

    Further, there are lots of people using blogs to connect with a specific readership, with their own local area, or to speak to a specific set of people. None of these groups are likely to be caught up in the TechMeme games. Most of them probably completely ignore it.

  • He says: “We’re bored. The interesting stuff is happening off blogs.”

    I agree that lots of interesting interactions happen in physical space, when people get together in person. As Don Draper commented, “You’ve just now figured this out?” I think the “we” here should be an “I.” If *you’re* bored, Robert, I completely understand. How could you not be burned out every now and then?

  • He says: “Creative stuff and ideas and questions are getting spread out all over the place.”

    Agreed. On blogs, in person, in videos, in links, scrawled on napkins, on the phone, on TV.

There are new conversational formats emerging and growing, to be sure. Video is neat, and especially with technologies like Seesmic, there’s the potential for more dialogue in new ways. And conversation via information streams on Facebook et al has been steadily increasing. But blogs are still as weird as you please, speaking in terms of the whole of what’s out there.

What you might find weird or interesting has always depended on what you’re in to, but here are a bunch from my daily reads, that don’t talk at all about new product or company news:

Update: Steve Rubel wrote on a related topic today, about curbing his enthusiasm for new companies and technologies. Instead of saying blogs in general are now boring and “we” are bored of them, he puts the emphasis on his own irrational exhuberance for all things new, in his own beat. I think it makes a bit more sense and is easier to swallow in that context.


  1. You know, sometimes there’s some truth to that old Southern adage, “When you point your finger at someone else, there are three other fingers pointing back at you.”

    At least he used the inclusive pronoun “we.” But goddamn. He’s the one who uses Twitter as a blog-post-announcement vehicle.

    He should stop assuming his reality is everyone else’s reality.

  2. Also…

    What is “the TechMeme game?” I don’t even know what that means. Clearly, whatever it is, I am not caught up in it.

    CAPTCHA says: full narcotics.

  3. Thanks for the link but I hope you don’t feel betrayed when we launch our suite of related web 2.0 product sites next month.

    Hipstr, backpackr, etc.

  4. Ah, Dave, the OPML trade is BRILLIANT! We did it at work, or tried it, and I sent mine out first and then…


    Nobody would share without cajoling, it was like some bad middle school prank. Who knew OPML could make me feel vulnerable.

  5. Sad to see people jaded already, when what’s exciting is that people are communicating like never before in whatever format best suits them. What an opportunity to learn! I find it more exciting every day and can’t imagine being bored with any of it.

  6. Amber: Recaptcha trying to tell us something? I just got “leukemia presently”.

    I agree — Robert ought to do a better job at qualifying statements like this.

    Rafi: I eagerly await the unveiling of Hiphopr.

    Josh: Thanks for the pointer. TechMeme has its important place but it’s not a multitool and really serve a specific community.

    Leah: It was perhaps wishful thinking.

    Mistie: Right on.

  7. Yea, if I wrote 2-10 posts a day on the same topics, I would be going out of my mind bored and crazy. Scoble is a smart dude, but the world does revolve around more than Techmeme (I still don’t even visit the site). I believe that that best blogs take the best of the physical world and personal networking and turn that in to the best of the virtual and social media world.

  8. “TV and movies and radio and magazines and books and flyers handed out on your corner have lost their humanity. Their weirdness.”

    This is the same sort of statement he made and probably more true. I think Scoble, though smart, may be too caught up in the technology and sort of ignoring the content.

    *Of course* as a technology matures it will be more widely adopted for commercial uses. This just might have to do with it being used by a wider audience (just guessing here). Blogs and Web technologies in general were always destined to be used in this way; Scoble might do well to consider that the lower barriers to entry have allowed the less-commercial people to surivive on the Web and not elsewhere. They just might not be targeting the same audience as TechMeme.

    What’s TechMeme, by the way?

  9. And by the way, if you are trying to keep track of 900 feeds a day, you are not going to be able to think about anything, including or perhaps especially the things you are supposed to be thinking about.

  10. Problem is, Scoble has become immersed in his own hype. What was once a kind, open, interesting guy has gotten sucked into the world of celebrity and lost his roots. His “us” has become “me”. His “we” has become “I”. From weird pronouncements about his life onstage, to his random, personally-focused-yet-mistakenly-broad blog entries like this one.

    He’s a good guy, but he’s living in a bubble (SV) within a bubble (celebrity) within a bubble (his blog).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *