Thursday, February 26, 2015

Robinson Meyer on blogging

....there have been side effects to corporate online consolidation. Those social networks got so good at their job that they became coursing rivers of reader attention, worth billions of dollars—meaning that they can redirect a tiny bit of that flow, an amount unnoticeable to them, and refashion entire industries. That’s what one social juggernaut in particular, Facebook, has done to online journalism. In August 2013, it began sending many more readers than it ever had before to what it called “quality publishers” by promoting links from their pages to users’s News Feed. Now Facebook can refer more traffic than anyone else — whole leaping barrelfuls of it, as far as news organizations are concerned — and news organizations looking for growth have come to rely on it. An October 2014 analysis claimed Facebook drove nearly 25 percent “of overall traffic to sites,” which seems low to me. Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, worried Wednesday that “the list is a lot longer than is publicly known of those that have Facebook delivering half to two-thirds of their traffic right now.”

Imagine half to two-thirds of the thing that makes your revenue possible coming from anywhere. That’s what centralization has done. The glittering dream of ten thousand bloggers, each with their own URL and each remixing the news for their own audience — that curious ideal pitched between libertarianism and progressivism — has led to this.

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