My earlier "meh" regarding OSM (the gathering of several big time bloggers to gain a larger advertising windfall due to their collective names, and apparently some attempt to produce legit journalism) is slowly becoming a bit more negative. My initial reaction after seeing what they are producing is this - explain to me how this isn't some sort of Huffington Post from the right? (And I refuse to link to the Huffers and Puffers because of their own hubris in thinking that just because they have an established name, someone cares what they have to say.)
In fact, hubris is the right word - summed up here by Steven Den Beste:
A commenter over at Dennis the Peasant provided me with the word I'd been searching for: hubris. I was fumbling with words like "pompousness" and "overconfidence", but hubris is exactly the word:
1. pride: excessive pride or arrogance
2. excessive ambition: the excessive pride and ambition that usually leads to the downfall of a hero in classical tragedy
It's encapsulated in the engineering aphorism: "Don't start vast projects based on half-vast ideas." This is the cardinal engineering sin; more time and money has been wasted on engineers whose ambitions outstripped their skills and knowledge than any other source of failure. Such people -- and sometimes they reach high rank in engineering organizations -- are long on promises and dreams, but short on delivery.
Both forms of the definition, to me, speak about right to what is happening with OSM. Unlike Moxie, I admit to be slightly jealous that they have the wherewithall to attempt such a project. But my negative feelings stem more from what I assume they think they are doing and summed up in their statement here:
The goal of our enterprise is to bring gravitas and legitimacy to the blogosphere, to amplify the individual voices that compose it, and bring you the best of blogging as we know it...
Jeff Jarvis has this to say in response,
Oh, gag me with a mitre.
I don’t think that blogs need to have legitimacy laid upon them … and who died and made you the legitimizer?
And gravitas? Good God, big, old media has an oversupply of that. That’s what got them in such trouble. And that’s what we’re running away from.
Precisely. I agree with Jeff, blogs don't need legitimacy - they already have them among a certain subset that is growing everyday. Further, to amplify the individual voices that compose the blogosphere, perhaps they ought to find and link to smaller bloggers from time to time, or at least check and see who is linking to them (as I have many, many times without any effort made on their parts to at least add me to their blogrolls.) And finally, to presume that they are the legitimate ones to decide what is "the best of blogging" is a bit high and mighty if you ask me. There are a great many small time blogs doing wonderful things and I do feel that this enterprise leads away from a form of individuality among the blogosphere - a point Ann Althouse has presumably made (though I don't recall those exact words), and one in which Decision '08 does not agree.
To me, the beauty of the blogosphere is the fact that anyone can start a blog and immediately have a voice, no matter how few people actually listen. There are a number of big time blogs, and they deserve every link and amount of importance that they have, after all - they worked hard for it. But over time, it seems that many of the "biggies" have drifted into a sort of private club, leaving peons such as myself out in the cold. No, I do not "advertise" my posts. But I link to blogs all the time (as every good blogger should) and very, very rarely do I see those people reach back and scratch my back in return. That was how the thing took off, if memory serves. And this project seems a severing of that to a point.
I could be completely wrong and off the mark on this. And I admitted that there is that inherent jealosy at being small time compared to most of the members at OSM. But I see folks that were invited and joined like neo-neocon and Decision '08 who have toiled at this game for far less time than I, but who gained a large following partly due to them being noticed and linked to by Reynolds and the gang. Granted, both do outstanding work and I read them everyday and link to them whenever I get the chance. But neither has ever come here to see who I was. Is that snobism? Or do they just not care? I don't know. I really don't.
It just seems that OSM is moving away from the principles that made the blogosphere such a fun and unique form of information sharing and critical analysis. More power to them, I suppose, if they succeed. But I worry what effect it might have on smaller bloggers who may feel now that because they aren't "part of the club," then why bother. It won't happen overnight, that's for sure. But it might and that would be a shame. That is all.