The Void in Gaping Void - What to do when blogs become victims of their own success?

December 1, 2004

I’ve been having an interesting conversation with Euph recently in the comments of my previous post about the SoundPryer and it’s led me to ruminate on what happens when blogs become victims of their own success.

Our conversation went like this:

AP:Personal media spaces (blogs, iPods, bitTorrents, etc.) allow for something else to go on. I can write about green frogs, for example, all the time on here because I don’t advertise and don’t do this for the money.

**Euph: **Question though could these spaces (blogs, iPods, bitTorrents, etc.) and personal connectivity eventually go the way the internet searching has sort of gone e.g the phenomen of some people thinking now that if you can’t find it by Google it dosen’t exist.

Now, I’m not sure that I agree people think it doesn’t exist if it can’t be found on Google, just that it’s too hard too find it any other way and why bother? So, the answer is yes, I think that is a problem and that’s been one of the strengths of RSS feeds, etc. Using a newsreader is a great way to scan what’s going on. But still, it gets a bit much sometimes - I’ve got 1,445 stories NetNewsWire is telling me I haven’t read. I won’t read them of course. Maybe 20, but that’s it.

When I’m not writing here, and not teaching or researching, I’m a magazine journalist too. That’s a real, paper one. Remember those? I write a column called Foreign Policy for a design magazine, Desktop, which is ironic because the site where I found another story about blogs being the victims of their own success goes by the same name.

Anyway, the writing the column means that every month I have to get in touch with somebody new to write about and email is usually the best form. I’ve written before how much I enjoy Hugh Macleod’s blog Gaping Void. I think he has some new and incendiary ideas about creativity and also the death of branding. I thought he’d make a good interviewee so I emailed him, twice. I also left comments on his blog. Nothing.

Now, I don’t particularly think it’s because I smell or my email says “you’ll get skin diseases if you read this”. He just gets lots, too much I suspect, mail. His site is getting pretty slow and hammered by visitors I would imagine too. So, now I can’t get in touch with him and kind of can’t be bothered either.

It’s particularly apt for Hugh because a lot of what his blog is about is that brands are conversations and experiences - a bottom up affair rather than a top down decision. He cites the example of Kryptonite locks not doing anything about the fact that it was all over the Web that you could open their locks with a Bic pen.

Yet now Hugh has the same problem. He won’t even know that his “brand” is suffering because well, he won’t get the mails or the comments. I can’t see a way out of this for bloggers except by either group blogging or simply following the foxes and rabbits model of population growth and decline. People will stop visiting his site because it’s too slow or they miss the personal interaction, the site speeds up, Hugh gets less mail and can actually respond to it and then the cycle starts again.

If blogs tell us anything it is that information hotspots emerge and die away again. Fortunately, of course, I dream about having Hugh’s problem. I’ve no idea who reads this much, but hey, tell your friends.