Interesting meme floated out by Duncan Riley and Dave Krug (both of whom are BlogHerald alumni, occupying ownership positions at some point, with the former being the original editor and the latter being a frequent contributor) today, on the basis of some news from the United States: Should bloggers unionize?
I think there are quite a few dimensions to this issue, but to me the most interesting one predicates itself on a fundamental question: why do you blog in the first place?
People might blog for many reasons. An outlet for their observations. A desire to participate and be part of a bigger conversation. Or, it they’re unfortunate, thinking that its a quick way to online riches.
For many, however, I think that the reason why they start blogging is that don’t just want to be *part* of a conversation — because if that’s all you want, you can be as active a commenter on different blogs, or participant on forums as you want — but because part of it is wanting to *own* the conversation, and accrue all the benefits thereof.
Whether it be income, or prestige, or more personal benefits of just having the flexibility of doing what you want with your own space.
Now, with this meme floating around, one does wonder if blogging has reached a certain level of maturation. After all, the talk of a union probably exists in the context of the evolution and existence of big hitting blog networks and single successful blogging publications. Yes, I’m talking about the Gawkers, Weblogs, and Daily Kos’s and TechCrunch’s of the world, because it really only makes sense to unionize against business entities that are large and wealthy enough to pay out the kind of benefits that unions would be aiming to achieve.
Secondly, I think there is a certain level of personal maturation when it comes to blogging. That is, if you’ve been doing this for any amount of time at all, you’ll realize that its a very time intensive activity. And for many people, its time that stolen away from other things, whether it be work, family, or your own personal time. The pleasure of doing something that you love might fuel your efforts in the beginning, or even, if you’re lucky, perhaps, the validation by having others recognize your efforts. But it can still be a lot of time and effort.
And I think that’s where we’re at — and at this point I invite everyone to let me know whether I’m out to lunch or not.
I think that most people start blogging — and are *hired* at big blogging networks / single blogs _from_ those blogs they own [I’m not referring to the Huffington Post, though] — because there is a kernel of independence in them. I think most people start blogging because they want to own part of the conversation, for all its inherent challenges, responsibilities, and benefits.
But I do wonder if the desire for unionization of blogging comes from the realization that for many, blogging is damn hard work that, compared to the ‘real’ world, doesn’t come with pay commensurate to your efforts. Or, perhaps, that it now *should* for blogging entities that actually have the means and resources to do it. And that perhaps, the work for a large blogging entity is a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself, rather than a means to a personal blogging end.
And if those suppositions are the case, I think that we may be witnessing a change in the hows and whys people blog, and perhaps even a change to how people view their own reasons for blogging — particularly because of the success of some larger blogs.