Who decides what weblogs are “important”?

Jim Grisanzio of Sun Microsystems has an interesting article up on his site this morning, a reaction to the recent Fortune article Blogs that Matter, in which Jim says: “the media doesn’t get to choose “who matters” for us anymore. We do.”
My gut reaction was “You go, Jim!” but upon reflect, I think Jim’s wrong in a quite important way, actually.
Here’s the problem: the most important weblogs are those that have credibility, and credibility comes both from having something smart and coherent to say and being granted marketplace credibility from other credible sources citing or linking to your blog. It’s a chicken and egg problem, because I think it’s phenomenally difficult to get credibility in the online world without the help of other sources, other already recognized industry experts being involved.

That’s where the established media does prove important — and no, Fortune didn’t deem to list either my Intuitive Life Business Blog or Ask Dave Taylor blog — because even when it’s flawed, the magazine and newspaper editorial process does increase the credibility of its articles, particularly when compared to the never-ending stream of “shoot from the hip” half-baked blogger pieces online.
We’re starting to see a small circle of high profile bloggers who can ostensibly grant some level of credibility to a new weblog (think Blog Business Summit speaker Debbie Weil, for example) but I would argue that it’s going to be a long time before a blogger can grant the same level of credibility that an industry-leading publication offers.
It’s hard to envision “As featured in Dave Taylors’ The Intuitive Life Business Blog” but it’s darn easy to imagine “As featured in WIRED’s Best of the Blogosphere” or similar, isn’t it?
I think this entire debate comes from an adversarial relationship between “us” bloggers and “them” established media outlets. But it’s a false distinction: a lot of bloggers also write for more traditional publications, and a lot of media outlets are dipping their toes into the blogosphere (with mixed results, but so what?)
So, Jim, in response to your question, we do get to decide what’s worth reading, but we do so based on both the recommendations of others online, our so-called circle of influence and the recommendation of our trusted sources, publications like BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, and Wired.
The media doesn’t choose who matters, per se, but they do still cast a very important vote. It’s just not the only vote for who matters in this new world.

This article originally appeared on the Blog Business Summit web site. If you’re reading this, you should also be seriously considering attending the Summit!

3 comments on “Who decides what weblogs are “important”?

  1. The MSM is dead and dying. Failures are multiplying rapidly. People are turning to each other for information and opinions, more and more all the time.
    Thus, I must state my disagreement with credibility being contingent on MSM endorsements.
    I display a testimonial quote from Business Week Blogspotting’s Heather Green in my sidebar, and I’m sure it does enhance my credibility and at least user curiosity.
    But face it, blog credibility depends largely on first visual impression on new readers, then content quality, relevance, and practicality.
    Writing quality is vital. Embedding hyperlinks in post text, linking to reputable sources is vital.
    But the actual content, what is actually presented on your blog, that is King/Queen.
    A book could provide tons of good info, yet be ignored, shunned, or flamed by the press and other blogs.
    But if I loved the content, and found it useful, of proven value, that book is credible to me.
    I disagree with the Forbes picks in their recent article on Best of the Web blogs for summer 2005.
    Poor selection of business and marketing blogs in particular. Weird choices. But that’s them and not me. They are entitled to their picks, but because a blog was singled out by Forbes, while many people will think that is impressive, and it is, yet, it may have no influence at all on what I think are the best blogs.
    Why won’t my browser (Firefox) remember my info for auto-fill?

  2. IIt would be amusing to let users vote as to how useful each of the “important” blogs are so the distinct concepts of importance and utility could be contrasted.
    Actually, there should be three measures: 1) popularity (inbound links or web feed subscriptions ala Google page rank), 2) so-called “importance” (as determined by MSM), and 3) usefulness (as determined by user evaluation).
    — Jack Krupansky

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