One of the most popular Web sites for creating blogs is Blogger.com (now owned by Google). Blogger exemplifies both fractionalization, with millions of mini-publications reaching passionate but small audiences, and wikification, as all of those publications are a part of one very large category of content. Interestingly, blogs are one kind of content for which Google’s famous market-based search algorithms are not effective. Because blogs change so rapidly, a search based on the number of external links will not work; blog posts are a moving target. Google has developed a separate search engine for blogs, but so far it has not been as successful as a competitor’s blog search engine, Technorati. Perhaps 10 years from now, all of Google will have been eclipsed by Technorati, and we’ll be reading a business book about how that happened.
As today’s media businesses redefine their niches and delivery formats, the ones that will succeed are those that find the right balance between the hits that appeal to many people and the micro-hits that appeal to enough people to earn their keep. The media businesses that triumph will be the ones that find a way to offer the broadest range of options and the easiest ways to sort through them. Retronyms develop when new technologies carve out new categories. What used to just be “the media” must now consider what it means to be “mainstream” and especially how to leverage its greatest assets — experience, expertise, professionalism, access, and reputation — as it learns to take advantage of the channels and opportunities to meet the specific needs of its audience, as a whole and as individuals with particular interests and growing expectations for content that they get to choose and even help to create.
Nell Minow (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes about movies, TV, and the Internet and is the Media Mom columnist in the Chicago Tribune. She is the cofounder and editor of the Corporate Library, a clearinghouse for information and analysis on corporate governance.