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Through Profy, I learned that the technology blogosphere's drama this past weekend revolved around a "conversation" about the fact that bloggers no longer have control of the "conversation".
Social media blogger Louis Gray wrote a post discussing the frustration some bloggers are expressing over the fact that the comments and discussions about what they've written are taking place on third-party services instead of on their own blogs.
Some of these third-party services apparently operate in a manner where the original content is leveraged with or without the author's permission.
"The era when bloggers could control where the discussion of their stuff took place is totally over."
So totally authentic.
Of course, not everybody agrees with Scoble. Tony Hung argues services that essentially "scrape" content, such as Shyftr, are wrong, not because they make it possible for the conversation to be held elsewhere but because they republish "without the original consent of the author."
"Anyway, it's not the conversations being hosted somewhere else that bothers me, it's that there are a new crop of services which would not otherwise exist without republishing someone else’s content without the original author’s explicit permission.
"Well, lots of people’s content. And you can dress it up in all kinds of clothing and all kinds of nifty wrappers, but ultimately that’s what this is about."
Personally, I don't find this conversation really all that interesting in and of itself.
I only read a handful of blogs on a regular basis and rely primarily on those blogs, and referrals from my readers, to direct me to interesting stories.
I simply don't have the time or interest to use 30 Web 2.0 services to stay on top of all the conversations that are taking place in the tech blogosphere and I think this whole debate belies the fact that, in the mainstream world, most blog readers don't either.
What I do find interesting is that technology bloggers, many of whom espouse "content just wants to be free" beliefs, find themselves arguing over their rights to control their own content.
In other words, some of the same bloggers who argue that entities such as record labels and television networks need to accept that their content will be stolen are miffed that their content is being "stolen."
Some of the comments left on Robert "Steal My Content Please" Scoble's post demonstrate the conflicted and sometimes hypocritical thinking that exists in the tech blogosphere.
A commenter named "greywulf," for instance, writes:
"I'm firmly with the 'Steal my content' crowd. If you love something, set it free - and that goes for words, photos, images or whatever.
"Intellectual Property is neither intellectual, nor property. It’s a lie wrapped in a fallacy, and deserves to die a quick and painless death.
"I don’t mind if people take my content and re-use it. Sure, a credit is nice, but there’s also a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from finding one of your images on the side of a bus or wherever. It’s like one of your children returning home when that happens.
"The only exception I make is that I don’t want anything I write or create to be used for spam purposes. That’s an industry I refuse to support in any way, shape or form."
As Tony Hung rebuts:
"@Greywulf — sir, you cannot have it both ways.
"Either you allow your content to roam wild and free, or you don’t, and place restrictions, albeit how mild, on it because (I presume that) you care how the content you created is being disseminated, you care about the company it keeps, and perhaps, you care about whose pockets its gilding.
"And that’s really no different than what other people who care about their content want."
Joseph "Giuseppe" Zuccaro points out that "what goes around has come around" for bloggers:
"The truth is not that bloggers 'had' control; the same thing that happened to traditional media (music, publishing in terms of pirating) is merely happening to bloggers too. This is because bloggers are seen as a source of ideas. And blogger should not bemoan this - in some sense it’s a taste of their own medicine."
Ostensibly in response to Scoble's statement that he doesn't mind having his content stolen, Nicole Simon chimes in with an inconvenient truth:
"Robert, this is also because you do have a lot of content which is not high in ‘value’ as some other content is.
"You rarely write about topics which are expensive in the sense of people can make money out of it, nor do you have a lot of content which really is ‘effort’ in the sense of information people cannot get somewhere else."
But perhaps the most amusing, and at the same time enlightened comment, was made by Larry Larrikin:
"Like musicians, bloggers are just going to have to deal with change. They need to get creative and come up with new business plans and new ways to monetize. How about selling t-shirts and touring with live spoken-word blog events? haha. suckers!"
Larry just might be right. After all, who wouldn't pay $250 to hear Robert Scoble speak?
Who wouldn't whip out $100 for a Michael Arrington bobblehead? And who wouldn't hand over the Visa to pay for a $500 pair of Engadget label jeans?
Sarcasm aside, most bloggers don't make a cent from blogging and the global demand for mostly poorly-written blogs about technology news pales in comparison to the global demand for music.
Because of this, the debate in the blogosphere is of little mainstream importance.
But it's a good debate to have because it shows that in the tech blogosphere, many who live in glass houses are throwing stones.