I believe that the most dangerous thing about blogs to the status quo is that so many of them exist for reasons other than to make money. A thriving community of people who are engaged for free, to me, have a certain authority that people doing things for money don’t.
Writing a book for money is always suspect. (Disclosure to all: I have written books for money and for free.) Writing it for free is very different – and might still be suspect, but for other reasons.
What made the early Internet so very threatening to the mainstream media was not just the new opinions being expressed, but the fact that people were spending hours of their lives doing something that didn’t involve production or consumption in the traditional market sense. Families with Internet connections were watching an average of nine hours less commercial programming each week.
The threat of rave culture was that it was an alternative economy. The kids were no longer going to the mob-run nightclubs, the police weren’t getting their cut, and the liquor distributors weren’t making any money. Those of us involved in rave – or at least many of us – didn’t realize that’s why they were such a threat.
Likewise, I believe the greatest power of the blog is not just its ability to distribute alternative information – a great power, indeed – but its power to demonstrate a mode of engagement that is not based on the profit principle.
Admittedly, many people need to try to make money any way they can. And many people who insist on making their money by writing, but can’t do so in the current commercial writing space, will attempt to do so on their blogs. I think that they will learn, as I have, what is so valuable about keeping certain areas of one’s life and work market-free if at all possible. Even if it means getting a day job, which many of us have done in order to support our work. I have been very lucky in my ability to craft my messages into forms that publishers will pay for. But the more integrity I get (and the more market-driven the book industry gets) the harder that is to do. Indeed, the book industry used to use criteria other than marketability in picking what to publish. Sometimes, editors would publish books that only broke even, because they happened to like them. Those editors are few and far between, now, because they don’t make as much money for their companies, and the values have changed.
Please understand, this is not a critique or attack on anyone who makes money through their blog. It is merely a statement about what I believe is the most threatening and thrilling aspect of the early blog community.
Soon enough, it will be back to your regularly scheduled programming.