Jim Grisanzio of Sun Microsystems has an interesting article up on his site this morning, a reaction to the recent Fortune article Blogs that Matter, in which Jim says: “the media doesn’t get to choose “who matters” for us anymore. We do.”
My gut reaction was “You go, Jim!” but upon reflect, I think Jim’s wrong in a quite important way, actually.
Here’s the problem: the most important weblogs are those that have credibility, and credibility comes both from having something smart and coherent to say and being granted marketplace credibility from other credible sources citing or linking to your blog. It’s a chicken and egg problem, because I think it’s phenomenally difficult to get credibility in the online world without the help of other sources, other already recognized industry experts being involved.
That’s where the established media does prove important — and no, Fortune didn’t deem to list either my Intuitive Life Business Blog or Ask Dave Taylor blog — because even when it’s flawed, the magazine and newspaper editorial process does increase the credibility of its articles, particularly when compared to the never-ending stream of “shoot from the hip” half-baked blogger pieces online.
We’re starting to see a small circle of high profile bloggers who can ostensibly grant some level of credibility to a new weblog (think Blog Business Summit speaker Debbie Weil, for example) but I would argue that it’s going to be a long time before a blogger can grant the same level of credibility that an industry-leading publication offers.
It’s hard to envision “As featured in Dave Taylors’ The Intuitive Life Business Blog” but it’s darn easy to imagine “As featured in WIRED’s Best of the Blogosphere” or similar, isn’t it?
I think this entire debate comes from an adversarial relationship between “us” bloggers and “them” established media outlets. But it’s a false distinction: a lot of bloggers also write for more traditional publications, and a lot of media outlets are dipping their toes into the blogosphere (with mixed results, but so what?)
So, Jim, in response to your question, we do get to decide what’s worth reading, but we do so based on both the recommendations of others online, our so-called circle of influence and the recommendation of our trusted sources, publications like BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.
The media doesn’t choose who matters, per se, but they do still cast a very important vote. It’s just not the only vote for who matters in this new world.