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Twilight of the blogs

— It's been fun to see all the new ideas and technologies roll out to the trumpeting of tech heralds but a theme of making it easier to express oneself online has created a moment of reflection in some parts of the blogging community. If maintaining a blog is too much trouble for you, you can try a Tumblr blog (tumblelog) which is just like blogging but easier. Still too much? Just use Twitter, it's only 140 characters at a time. Can't be bothered to Tweet a sentence? Friendfeed will collect the feeds from your various social accounts and put them all in one place for you so all you have to do is play with some bookmarklets to generate a presence on the Web. But who wants to bother with a presence on the Web? A lot of discussion lately has focused on leaving remarks on other people's sites and the amount of notoriety one can generate as a nearly anonymous commenter. Of course, you could always just tinker with your Facebook status and play online Scrabble.

While none of these developments could be described as blog killers they've definitely taken some of the enthusiasm out of the idea of blogging revolutionizing media and taking over the world.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the blogging stage, reading blogs and other online output has also become easier. Instead of reading blogs directly you can follow their RSS feeds in your aggregator. Or follow the feeds of blog searches in your aggregator - why be bound to specific blogs? Or don't bother setting up your own aggregator; sites like Memeorandum will do the aggregating for you so you just get the good stuff. Better yet, a social aggregator site like Digg will give you the good stuff - or at least the popular stuff, which is sometimes good if you shovel through enough of it.

It would be wrong to say that the value and significance of online citizen media has decreased but clearly its character has changed.

Further contributing to the pallor of disquiet is the recent departure of Jason Calcanis from the blogging scene. Obviously just one blogger quitting is not a big deal no matter who he is, but his reasons did serve as fodder for discussion. Calcanis is part of a generation of bloggers who are reaching a point of success and fame at which some of the properties and principles of (inherently small-media) blogging begin to give way to those of big media.

I'd planned to pepper this item with links, but as Clicked is more of a link-list blog, I think it's more fitting to share some of what shaped my conclusions above as a reading list. Let me know if you see something else in these tea leaves:

The song from that Reebok ad with all the football players walking through their respective cities is "Train Song" Vashti Bunyan. Not really as cool as it sounds in the commercial.

Speaking of ads, that Snickers commercial that has folks up in arms plays on the opening of the "Get some nuts" site. The
site also has a little game where you drive around shooting Snickers at
people. If you haven't seen it already the soccer player one is in the
site's video tab.

In case you aren't surrounded by enough nerds to get your fill of post-Dark Knight discussion, I recommend the Kevin Smith chat on /Filmcast. It's full of spoilers and curses and as such does a good job of being a satisfying "what was so great about that movie" conversation.

Speaking of Batman, since these comic book movies so often take on the gray areas in the definition of justice and good and evil, in my mind they always make good metaphors for the War on Terror. So I walked out of the theater last weekend drawing parallels between Osama bin Laden and the Joker and even Harvey Dent and Barack Obama in terms of their image of squeaky cleanness (and of course the obvious FISA wiretapping parallel). But is there a Batman parallel? Is it George W. Bush? For all the conspiracy theories about the Bush administration is the room for one that would have him playing the role of vigilante outcast? It's a tenuous argument and more of a mental exercise than a serious position but I was excited to be tipped off to an essay on Salon.com touching on that very theme and by way of links leading me to an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal called, What Bush and Batman Have in Common.

Speaking of Bush and Batman, Bush or Batman?

And by the way, if you saw Batman you saw the Watchmen trailer and if you didn't you need to watch it right now here. "Eagerly anticipated" does not begin to describe the atmosphere online for this film.

Speaking of trailers that inspire head-popping excitement, The new Caprica (Battlestar Galactica prequel series) trailer is out. It looks about a close to a Bladerunner TV series as we're likely to get.

Speaking of building publicity online for upcoming shows, did you see the vampire dating site meant to tease that new HBO show?

Speaking of trying to keep up with new HBO shows, I stayed up late this week to get caught up on Generation Kill. Here's what Generation Kill gets right about the invasion of Iraq.

Seemingly every other week there's a story about some powerhouse company with plans to pay a ridiculous amount of money to buy Digg.com. The new one that folks seem to be taking seriously is a rumored offer from Google supposedly in the $200 million range. I read this item because of its headline: Why doesn't Google build its own Digg like Yahoo and AOL did?

Be the missile - Harder than actually playing this game is playing it without bobbing and ducking your head.

Johnny Depp's Island to be Solar and Hydrogen Powered - Follow that Ecorazzi link for some video.

Credit to reader Phil for spotting a more ridiculous version of the other day's "cancer cured" headline.

What would compel a famous astronaut to make up stories about aliens? That is to say, if he's not telling the truth, what would his motivation be? Is he making fun of UFO believers? Has he lost his mind? Has someone played an elaborate joke on him? If you don't think he's joking or the victim of a prank and you don't think he's lost his mind, then...

There's nothing like reading someone else getting yelled at to remind one to pay better attention.

Baby's first internet - NOTE: Not for babies.

Groverfield - See also the link to the mysterious new Muppets videos.

Cake Wrecks, the ugly cake blog.

Lastly, I have to mention the political campaign of Sean Tevis. The idea of an "Internet candidate" is tossed around loosely by the mainstream media, generally applied to anyone who manages to raise money online. A better demonstration is the Netroots activism of sites like Atrios who pinpoint local elections, find like-minded candidates that need help and rally the strength of a national audience through the principle of micro-payments. But what we see with Sean Tevis is the kind of Internet candidate that makes futurists giddy. On his own he told his story, described his platform and presented himself to his online peers. Those peers responded with enough financial support to secure his candidacy, if not his victory.

I haven't had time to poke through the local Kansas media to see what the folks there think of having their politics influenced by outsiders. Tevis is a local guy, so it's not like some carpetbagger is sweeping in on them but part of the story (and part of the point of Netroots) is to bring support to someone who doesn't necessarily have it from the local political scene.
(As a tangential but not insignificant point, when you view the source code of the Tevis site he has included special messages for programmer nerds in the comment tags.)