Friday, April 27, 2007

Is commercialism killing the blogosphere?

The last question in the Love to Lead competition is quite a brave one. Why? Not because it tackles a controversial theme that forces people to take sides and defend their opinions. Nor because we are being asked to tackle one of the many big questions on life, the universe and everything. No - it's simply because it appears the organisers are putting themselves in the stocks. In my last entry I'm therefore going to use the Love to Lead competition as a case-study within the wider question.

Let's look at the facts...
Since the beginning of this competition, there have been numerous attempts to subvert the rules and regulations. The organisers have had to remove entries on the basis of them being either unintelligble, or copied from somewhere else. The voting system was abused on a number of occasions, and several of the winning entries are from people who have no history of blogging, and were clearly after the prizes. The rules had to be changed on several occasions because of systematic abuse and unfairness. You may form your own opinion on the quality of the winning entries, and what made them winners.

Where did it all go wrong?
It's not rocket science to identify why the whole thing didn't work very well. It boils down to the voting system, which was open to abuse from the first week without any real attempt to close the main loophole that allowed people to exploit their connections in the wider on-line community. Cynics might argue that the whole venture was an experiment in pushing commercialism onto the blogerati to see what happens. One can guess that the whole thing was meant to go viral, with bloggers emailing each other like crazy, thereby pushing the Toshiba brand firmly into bloggers minds. The result, in my opinion, met with only limited success and was a deeply unpleasant experience. Had this been a competition where the only prize was praise from fellow bloggers, the quality of the contributions would have been rather different, and the atmosphere would have been much healthier. It was commercialism that brought in the cheats, and it was the cheats that ruined the competition. No-one can say the last 15 weeks have been a fair fight on a level playing field.

What does this case-study tell us?
The experiment didn't work very well. The number of entries each week has not been huge, despite the publicity and the prizes on offer. The free-spirit of the blogosphere depends entirely on not having commercial pressures from any direction. As soon as a monetary value (literal or material) is placed on the writing any blogger, things start to turn ugly. We can take heart from the fact that the commercial interests did not penetrate the blogosphere any deeper.

So, is commercialism killing the blogosphere?
On the evidence of this attempt, the answer has to be no. It's just a flesh-wound. We can't extrapolate too far, of course, but it looks like the current attempt at taking the life out of the blogosphere has failed. Breathe easy, fellow bloggers, the threat has now passed.

Long live the blogosphere!


Alun said...

A reasonable analysis of L2L in my opinion, so I voted for you.

Anonymous said...

I think it's very strange you did not win on any occassion Your entries being the best by far.
However do you not worry about copyright of your stories and ideas?

Plum gone

hazel love said...

Sooner or later, commercialism gets into everything...whether well or badly run...there will always be a is the way of the world, and always has been since Ug sold his first flint arrow head for a deer.

Kim Ayres said...

Well I went and voted for you, then I read your entry. Show's how the system's screwed up at conception.