People Still Don’t Get Blogging

I’ve always thought that leaving Malaysians to sort out their own devices in regards to anything would always be the better idea. I mean if you accidentally blew up your own nuclear reactor because you didn’t know which buttons to press, chances are you’re going to learn a lot from those little boo-boo’s (if you actually survive a nuclear meltdown that is). This one however, I will talk about only because you can’t talk about it and because other people deserve to know it as well.

To those that don’t know (or rather don’t care), MoNSTerBlog is one of the Malaysian media’s idea for joining the rest of the internet, specifically the blog reading generation in order to, and I quote “go beyond the traditional print edition and to provide a holistic package to readers”. Their plan was relatively simple. Get some of the most read bloggers in the Malaysian Blogosphere and have them blog for the paper with the revenues generated being shared amongst the participants.

To me the plan is relatively doomed to failure. Not because only a small percentage of the Malaysian public are actually interested in blogs. Not because there is a general consensus among the public that the current Malaysian government controls the media that owns this blog. Not because putting different bloggers to blog for a reputed newspaper will inadvertently result in each blogger’s self interest from the possibility of increased readership to their own blogs.

But because a lot of Malaysian bloggers give themselves far too much credit.

Let’s take a bigger example of this picture. I read Bloggermann on a constant basis which is basically Keith Olbermann’s commentary “blog” on NBC. I wouldn’t call it a true blog per say because it lacks one of the 9rules blog definition criteria which is the ability for readers to interact. Yet, I would still call it a better success than MoNSTerBlog. Why? Well it’s certainly not about the topics that are being presented.

It’s just that when you’re blogging as yourself. You are the voice of your own blog. It’s that sense of personal expression that defines the identity in which readers can relate your blog as. When readers read Footsteps in the Mirror, I don’t expect them to see other people, other bloggers or even other facets from other people. I expect them to see me because this is my personal blog and this is where my personal self expression and perspective has free reign.

Now take it further as a business model. You have a product. You blog about the product. Do you expect people to hear unrelated personal stories or unrelated hearsay from other people? Of course not. You would expect to hear about whatever you’re offering, the product, the package. Blogs from the media like Bloggermann or the Wall Street Journal are related to of what they are all about. It gives them their blog identity. It gives them their focus and it gives them their readers.

What’s MoNSTerBlog’s “holistic package”? I have absolutely no idea. I haven’t the slightest clue on what they are focusing on except for the sparse and sporadic commentaries on what goes on the front page. I don’t know if they are affiliated with the publication or just a group blog that’s held together with duct tape. I see the personal self expression that comes from the individual bloggers, but that’s because I see the blogs that they write prior to being part of this newspaper blog. What identity is left that defines MoNSTerBlog for what it is, isn’t about the newspaper, but the fractured persona of all the individual bloggers put together.

So was this just another attempt by the media to get into the blogging bandwagon? Without a doubt. Do they expect this to work? I would give them more credit than that to realize that this is not going to go anywhere anytime soon at the rate its going. See while I might not know how newspaper journalism works, I do know how blogs live. Newspapers and even bloggers need to understand that the personal identity behind the blog is always what the blog is suppose to represent. The voice, the face, the persona has to reflect the product whether its you as a person or a media industry…with the scrutiny of the public at hand. Without it, blogs are nothing more than the random “me too” parking spaces you find out there.

So when someone says that maybe there is something wrong with this picture, especially when they have been working in the business for a long time, maybe they have a point. When you say that you love the personal attention enough that you inadvertently admit that you don’t write well enough to be paid for a newspaper blog, maybe I have a point to say about the way things work at that blog. When they try and turn things around by throwing things back at people with personal comments in defense of themselves, maybe there is no real professional identity for the blog save for personal commentaries that’s best left at your own blog.

So when people don’t get paid to blog, maybe it isn’t because they are good or not. It’s because blogs reflect an owners personal sense of worth. For the media that caters to the public that would make sense. For the individual blogger who caters to ourselves? Even if they are bunched up together under the media spotlight. Do you really think we’re worth anything?

9 thoughts on “People Still Don’t Get Blogging

  1. There are a lot of Malaysian public who are actually interested in blogs. There are more Malaysian that consume / read blogs, then those who write blogs. That’s what most Malaysian do 8 to 5 on their cozy little cubicle office. Then again some of them doesn’t even know that the site they are reading is called a ‘Blog’.

    Anyway I do think blogs should have the personal touch, blogs are not publication.

  2. I concur with Jibone, on the personal touch. However, I don’t think most Malaysians are interested in blogs. Our friends in the rural areas, in small towns who do not have internet access definitely are not very involved in blogging – reading or writing. Some don’t even have computers. Even if they have computers, broadband and stuff (including urbanites), only a fraction spend time reading, much less writing blogs.

    IMHO, I look for blogs that are unique, have a personal touch, as pointed out by Jibone. It doesn’t matter if the layout’s ugly, or the content’s lousy, as long as it’s original I’m all for it.

  3. Firstly, I think you give yourself too much credit about understanding blogs. You don’t, otherwise your pinings for more readership would have materialised by now. Of course, I also understand why you think you know about blogs, you have been blogging for a long time. That does infer that one knows what one is doing, and in your particular case, you might actually do know and for all intents and purposes, your blog is going about exactly how you want it to be. Fine. Congratulations.

    However, I feel slighted that you assume that you know everything about the monsterblog project, including the statement you made “So was this just another attempt by the media to get into the blogging bandwagon? Without a doubt.”

    Your first critical flaw was by hypothesizing without any empirical facts to back it up. Which leaves your end supposition open to critic. You see, it was a bunch of bloggers, myself included, who mooted the idea of having NST support a wider adoption of blogs by allowing some of us to run a group blog. Our idea was to hopefully get readers of the mainstream media to hop into an alternative media as well, and grasp both ends of the story including critical comments from the blog readers.

    We do censor some comments, but in general we allow most through. Even the ones that harshly criticizes NST and their front paged story. We are hoping that NST will allow contradictory opinions to sieve through and a balance can be achieved.

    Along the way, we are highlighting that bloggers are interesting, and hoping that a critical mass of readers will help commercialise blogging and the revenue shared amonsgt the contributors. We don’t claim to get everything right but we know that we are trying to do something beyond than just couch punditry and anecdotal off the sleeve remarks shot from the dark.

    So please, before you get on your high horse and judge other, get your facts right. At least Midnite Lily did her homework and for what it is worth, her comment bears some reflection and thought. Yours on the other hand is so speculative, it’s just irritating.

  4. Jibone: That’s what I used to think. Then again, if so many people are reading blogs…who’s working? 🙂

    Narrowband: True, if you’re going to compare it that way, then yes a lot of Malaysians aren’t exposed to blogs, much less care to read about them.

    Mack: That’s the thing. I did say that I do not know anything about Monsterblog or journalism. My entire statement in my blog is based upon what I know of the problems faced by mainstream media turning to blogs and of Monsterblog. The fact that Monsterblog has absolutely no focal point whatsoever that I can relate to compared to other newspaper blogs out there leads me to this conclusion from a blogging point of view.

    If you have to come here to explain what it is all about, then shouldn’t you do that in Monsterblog’s about page? Shouldn’t that be reflected in the posts in which we read on the blog? What identity do we relate Monsterblog as? And how do we see it based on what we know? Those are my questions posed. This post is meant to be discussed even criticized, it’s not meant as an absolute judgment of what is. Where we all go from here is how we put ideas or criticisms like this to mind.

  5. Mack, Edrie has his points there. And from his reply to you, he holds himself accountable for what he says. Even if he has no “credibility” or background on the topic whatsoever, he is a member of an audience entitled to his opinion and perception.

    Monsterblog is supposed to be for the readers, no? How do you expect to garner an audience if your team is going around insulting the whole blogsphere for speaking against MB? If you want to take it out on me, go ahead. But bear in mind, you have no audience if Monsterblog’s platform or objectives isn’t understood by the Malaysian Internet “masses”.

    This time where MB is getting a lot of publicity, is when you need to strengthen the blog. Not waste time lashing out at your potential audience. There is no such thing as bad publicity in media. Or didn’t you already know that?

  6. er.. Mack, was that really necessary? Like Midnightlily said, maybe it would be better to clear the air on MB instead of going around leaving comments on individual blogs… what with all the traffic generated by this whole storm in a teacup and with the link from ‘The Prophet of Screen’, perhaps this is a good time to take MB forward, and clear the air a little?

    I say this because I would like to know what is up with MB as well…

  7. notice Mack doesn’t embed a link to indicate which ‘hat’ we should accredit his comment to? i.e. as MB admin/editor/taikor/blogger.

    It’s interesting to note that so far, all Monster Bloggers (Kim, Peter, ST, Paul Tan, Ky etc) commenting on THIS ISSUE have done so outside MB and either in their own personal blogs or in others’.

    It’s as if they disassociate from it. Jekyll and Hyde?

  8. I agree with Mack & Edrie as well. Many of us don’t really know what actually is blog. But come to think of it, I believe blog can be something personal. It might be different from reality. Sometime I just don’t understand why people tend to take it so seriously…

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