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Blogospheric Navel-Gazing

Laura may be right that it's harder to get links for a good post in the modern blogosphere. But, as she's proved today, it's still pretty easy to get links for a post about the blogosphere, which suggests that we haven't totally lost the solipsism and self-obsession that originally made us great.

As for the actual topic of her post -- changes in the blogosphere -- I think she dances around the issue a bit: The place has professionalized. Talking Points Memo used to be some unemployed writer's blog. Now it's a significant media institution. Atrios used to be the only guy articulating a certain set of progressive frustrations with the media. Now he's a fellow at Media Matters, a well-funded watchdog organization dedicated to tracking the media in excruciating detail. It used to be that people blogged in their spare time. Now kids graduate from college and apply for jobs as bloggers and, sometimes, internships as assistants on blogs.

The blogosphere isn't thrumming with the joyous, raucous, weirdness of the early years. And that's a shame. But the upside is that it's more careful. It reports and investigates and uncovers. My blog certainly isn't as fun to write as it used to be. But it's also a lot better than it used to be. And it certainly pays more. And so it goes. The blogosphere grew up and it got a job, or, to be more specific, lots of jobs. That made it less fun, but, like a frat house legend who now goes to work every morning, probably more useful to society.

I still miss Steven Den Beste, though.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 2, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
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It's hard to find a good plumber too.

Posted by: bdballard | July 2, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Atrios was the only one articulating progressive criticism of the media? Amazing what the liberal blogosphere will do to avoid mentioning Bob Somerby's name.

Posted by: glassarm1 | July 2, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

"I still miss Steven Den Beste, though."

Oh, that's harsh. And if you were a fan of anime, you wouldn't miss him at all.

On the other hand, there's still a lot of fun to be had among the people who still keep blogging separate from their day jobs. Daniel Davies' piece today on the comparative economics of wining and dining politicians, journos and "opinion-formers" is a treat.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | July 2, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Eh, Steve is still around. I see him post on Metafilter every few weeks.

Posted by: weebot | July 2, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

"I still miss Steven Den Beste, though." Ha!

"The place has professionalized." It has for a handful of people. And that's a good thing. We're all happy that you all have a larger stage for your work and are getting paid.

But it's not just that. The intense inter-linking that occurred in the past has slowed down for a variety of reasons. As a result, the blogosphere is less hierarchical. There are a great variety of communities, but they aren't really aware of each other. That may not be a bad thing; it just is.

Posted by: lauram1111 | July 2, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

"Amazing what the liberal blogosphere will do to avoid mentioning Bob Somerby's name."

A "certain set" is not identical with "variations on a theme of 'Al Gore got screwed', repeated ad nauseam for a decade."

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | July 2, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Agree about Somerby. He has been written out of the discussion.

Posted by: andgarden | July 2, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

another perspective.

these are the first, familiarly wistful pangs of growing older!

in my generation, chrome encrusted,colorful buicks, chevrolets, oldsmobiles, started appearing in front of the houses. the whole neighborhood would crowd around to see them, like a big celebration!

in your generation, a strange and bulky object would come out of the box. for us older ones, it suddenly appeared, like an alien from outer space. the older family members knew they had to have one, but werent quite sure what to do with them, except to balance their checkbooks!
and still other family members were afraid to even dust them, for fear of turning them on!

but you all knew what to do with them, and invented new worlds at midnight, when the only bright objects shining in the night, were the moon and the blinking, green cursor!

there was a time when the only way to get readable news was to walk to the candy store for the local paper. many of us grew up with "the reader's digest" and "life" magazine, and not much else.
the choices were few, and most of our parents could not afford a college education.

dont sell yourselves short.
blogs may no longer be in their infancy, but the ability to click into so many worlds of thought and even participate instantly, continues to be absolutely wondrous.

for those of us who remember how we gathered our news and opinions long ago, it is like stepping out of the dark ages.

Posted by: jkaren | July 2, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

jkaren I'm so glad you followed Ezra over here .. keep writing your wonderfully sane comments

Posted by: wapomadness | July 2, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

thank you, wapomadness...

that was very kind of you.
have a good fourth of july weekend!
* * * * * * * * * (fireworks)

Posted by: jkaren | July 2, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Josh was never unemployed. He may have been underemployed at various times, but he was always out hustling and getting good gigs. As I recall, a fair percentage of TPM was things that were left on the cutting room floor from the paid articles. That and the inimitable venting, which is one thing I miss most at the current TPM.

Posted by: merrilld | July 3, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

You imply that "professionalization" contradicts or supersedes the changes Laura talks about, saying her observations are second order - "dancing around." I disagree. In some ways, professionalization is liberating and validating; in others, it's damaging and depressing - and to unpack those, you need to go into detail. Boiling all the changes down to "professionalization" as if that cleared everything up is kind of misleading.

On a not entirely unrelated note, I'd be curious about the gender breakdown of "amateur" (doing it mostly for free) and "professional" (getting paid) bloggers, in particular among veterans of the 6-year period Laura describes. And in what changes "professionalism" hath wrought in blogs written by men vs. women.

Posted by: JaneG | July 6, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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