Saturday, June 29, 2002

Locke Link

In my interview over at Frank Paynter's site, I mentioned something Chris Locke had said on NPR's Marketplace show and put an audio link into the text. I hate audio links, especially if the stuff is interesting and I want to save the actual words. So then I thought, hmm, I should put some of the actual text into the interview, but then I couldn't decide which part, because the whole thing was pretty damned interesting. So, without further ado, here's the whole thing.

[BTW, Jeneane did the hard work of transcibing it. Take a bow, girlfriend. Thanks for the words, Chris.]

Chris Locke, Marketplace Morning Report Transcript: Weblogs 

I think one of the hottest things going on today on the net is weblogging – or blogging to its fans. And basically, it’s very simple tools that let you write whatever occurs to you on a daily basis. It’s sort of like a journal; entries are date stamped and in chronological order, but aside from that, it’s just tools that you don’t have to know all the technical ins and outs to get your stuff online. 

Sounds like a diary. Why would anyone want to put something that personal online? 

That’s been a question for a lot of people. Especially people from traditional media, saying it’s trivial nonsense, it’s garbage. But garbage to one person is of high value to another, and the way the Internet works is that people group together around things that interest them. So the audience isn’t the mass audience, it’s little tiny micro audiences that aggregate around things people are saying that resonate with their own concerns. There has been an enormous amount of stuff written and said about the phenomenon of weblogging, which two years ago didn’t exist, and today there are something on the order of two million of these things in existence. It’s been a hockey stick spike. 

And the most important and interesting thing about it is that people are talking about things that are deeply intimate and personal. 


Well, that’s a good question. People are talking about things like love and loss and joy and death and sex and like that. And the fact is, there’s never been an outlet for people to say who we are. We have news and advertising and politics and mindless entertainment ala Disney, if I can say that, not that I have anything against mindless entertainment, but we just haven’t had, as a species, a way to talk to each other through a public medium about things that really concern our lives. 

There’s been a lot of bemoaning of the fact that the Internet has not lived up to its potential. This could be one aspect of the Net that is living up to it’s potential? 

Well, it speaks exactly to that question. The moaning and groaning is coming from the expectations of the commercial sector, which says, it didn’t pan out to be what we wanted it to be, which was another advertising medium. But at the same moment that there is this hand wringing and disappointment on the part of corporations, you have this ramp of people enthusiastically getting online for the precise purpose of speaking to each other about matters that are critically important to us as human beings. Not about what we can buy, or what we bought, or what we plan to buy, but what we’re doing here on this planet, what we’re doing with each other, and what we might be doing. 

I don’t mean to make it sound so deadly serious. Sometimes it is, and sometimes its lots of laughs. Some of it is noise, and some of it is amazing stuff that just hasn’t ever had a chance to “be” before. 

What does it say that it took the Internet for this kind of discussion/dialogue to take place? 

It’s the thing that’s most exciting about the Internet. Broadcast media have at their heart the function of serving as a carrier wave for advertising. So the content that’s developed for broadcast – and I mean that very generally, both print and television and so forth – is developed to get the kind of bell curve audience that will gain the most eyeballs for the advertiser. 

The concern is not what we care about. It’s sitcoms and sound bites and little news blips. But they don’t tend to be those edgy sorts of sometimes bothersome matters that really define what it is to be a human being. This, to me, is really important. And to a couple million other people who have just discovered each other. 

It’s really self-selecting. People hook up around what they’re interested in. I’ve read kids who have got to be no more than 15 years old writing just brilliant stuff. 

Not to burst the anti-commercial bubble, but it seems to me this is something the publishing world would be interested in? 

I say that in Gonzo Marketing. From this kind of source we are going to get the next Milton, the next Shakespeare, the next Mozart, the next whatever kind of genius people we’ve had in the past. That didn’t stop at some point in our history. It is still happening, and they’re emerging.  

Film makers and digital music, the whole nine yards, is coming bottom up. That’s my whole rant. It’s coming bottom up in the sense that they’re not top-ten best sellers, they’re not even coming out of writing programs at universities. Today they’re 12 years old and they’re in chat rooms and they’re weblogging, and they’re getting really literate and really good with the language, and some of these people can just turn cartwheels. It’s going to be pretty amazing. 

But the fact is, they’re not motivated now to go the traditional route, because people have total creative control. Yes, you can make money if you can sell a book or an article. But they’re getting immediate and instant gratification form people sending them an email two minutes later saying, “Oooh, killer post, man.”