Bloggers Ad Nauseum

I did a panel the other night – part of all the generally anti-Republican Convention stuff going on this week in NYC – about Blogs and Bloggers. We covered the obvious ground, about whether blogs make a difference or are just having a good time (my response was that having a good time can make a difference, and that making a difference is a good time).

But as we veered over into the realm of career blogging, we touched briefly on the subject of whether ads hurt blogs – and that’s where I think the whole thing died. And even depressed me a bit.

I tried to make the point that the early Internet and early rave culture were alike in that they were ad-free zones – alternatives to the free market reality in which we were living. And that’s what made them so powerful. I was trying to go on to explain that there might be a value in ad-free blogging; that doing it for money, for ads, may not change our writing on a conscious level, but that we may be changed – yes, corrupted – by the ads we’re endorsing, er, displaying.

The moderator shut me down with great force, dismissing the entire notion of ads affecting writers as silly – that the marketplace would judge the integrity of those writers accordingly. Now, I’ve been shut down by co-panelists, but not by moderators. And I would have chalked it up to my own ‘sensitivity’ had I not received more than a few emails from people calling the moment to my attention.

So I thought I’d call it to yours – not because I feel slighted or hurt, but because I believe that the underlying assumption that the market corrects all problems, eventually, or that the market is itself ‘value neutral,’ is incorrect. I’m not challenging free market capitalism; God bless the USA and all that.

I’m only challenging the perception that we are living in a marketplace. We don’t have to use the metaphor of a competitive economy to understand this world; it may as well be a collaborative ecology.

Plus, if I put ads on this blog, it’d be the end of something. No?