Blogs and the business of community

It’s been kind of fun to watch the reaction to Mike Arrington’s recent “rambling manifesto” (as Henry Blodget called it at Silicon Alley Insider) about the future of blogs and the wisdom — or lack thereof — in getting venture financing. Among other things, Kara Swisher decoded it using movie metaphors, Tom Foremski said it won’t work because you can’t “roll up egos,” and Howard Lindzon dumped on the idea with his usual panache. And it probably won’t come as a surprise that TechCrunch itself is rumoured to be looking for financing, according to Henry.

Although Howard has plenty of scorn for Scoble as well, I think Robert puts his finger on something (or at least close to something) in his post when he says that killing CNET isn’t the right goal — even if most of the examples he uses, such as the moon landing, don’t really help his argument (which his readers are more than happy to point out). But I think Chartreuse comes the closest to making a real point with his post on the topic, in which he notes that it isn’t about size, it’s about community.

Of course, as with most media it’s about size and community — at least when it comes to trying to make it into a business (Wine Library TV guy Gary Vaynerchuk has a great video about that here). In any case, in the course of writing about that, Chartreuse mentioned a blog network/citizen journalism enterprise in India that I hadn’t heard of before: Instablogs.com, which apparently had a rough start but has since grown into something worth paying attention to. Not only is its primary audience in India (see the co-founder’s comment on this below), but the community that has grown up around the site is remarkable, and the site is very well designed and customizable.

I wouldn’t want to say that “big media” in the context of the blogosphere won’t work, because it’s clear to me that Gawker is working, and so are PaidContent and GigaOm and others. But I think there is definitely some room for the Craigslist approach too: follow the community and the business will (in some cases at least) take care of itself. Oh yeah — as it turns out, Instablogs is raising money too 🙂 Congratulations to founders Ankit and Nandini Maheshwari.

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