Blogs. What are they? What do they mean?

Per Kos. Blogging is about communities of people who get to determine what they talk about, how, where.
Open The Network, Don’t try to Control It. Reputation. Sandy Close: Gossip? Not everything on paper is a newspaper, and not everything on a blog is gossip? The discussion is flying. Howard Rheingold: blogs have capital, but you risk that when you go with the rumor. How does the coverage come, top down from traditional sources or bottom up from blogs?

I think what is key here, for internet based media, is linking. It affects every one of these ideas above. It is what truly differentiates the web from any other information delivery system.

Reputation? Capital? Gossip? Link to your sources, support what you say, and if you make a mistake, link to your commenters and fellow bloggers who correct you, so that you can iterate something that’s right. Your readers are your editors and fact checkers.

Open Networks vs. Control? If you aren’t linkable, as a traditional news outlet, you lose your authority on the web. You won’t be cited. And if you are not open, letting people come and go as they please, following the links in and out of your site, people will find you as a dead end. Maybe with good content. But still, a dead end.

Blogs build community by linking. News sites can too. But they have to link to other news sites, let people know where the stories come from, when they riff on another news site’s story. Show the community they are in, because by not showing it now, they appear inauthentic in the ways people build community online. Link to that community. And converse with their audience. It happens by linking and speaking directly. As Jeff Jarvis says, news is a conversation. But linking only works with an open network. Look at the Wall Street Journal. Closed. No one links to them, though my trick is to send an article to Dave Farber, have him post it, and then link to his post, when it’s really important. But how often does that happen? Once every three months? (Dow Jones isn’t even here at this conference.) They may have premiere content in their niche, but they are not linkable, and in the end, in the minds of those on the internet (500 million, verses the 600,000 WSJ subscribers) they are not in the conversation. It’s like they don’t exist. But the news sites we are talking about here are only partly in the game, with story links that die after 7 – 14 days, with stories that don’t link out anywhere, where they still think about this as a one way model, as least as they demonstrate their activity online.

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