I’m at a conference for editors at a large traditional business publisher, Reed Business Information. I’m here to about how blogs have successfully used personality, character and attitude to gain attention (that’s a simplification – obviously there’s the whole Cluetrain stuff as well, among many other things). Mention is made of Rafat’s PaidContent, which is described as a blog about paid-for content (except, to be brutally honest, outside of its reports, it is all free). While sitting at the back I go through an article by Simon about the importance of permanence and free archive (by implication – although he doesn’t advocate paid/free either way, it depends on the publisher). Remember, I’m at an event where vast amounts of the content being talked about is paid-for.

The conference is then addressed by Drew Cullen and Angus Banks, who basically tell the audience (I paraphrase) that their paid-for content doesn’t have much chance against free content, because the game today is “all about links” (Angus also throws in his theory about RSS leading towards a future where publishers will feed full content into a new internet content backbone). Then, while browsing, I come across a fight between Ben, and Hugh and, talked about by Tom. This is interesting because Tom nicely summarises my feeling about things at the moment, especially haveing attended PodcastCon (the first ever in the UK actually) conference recently.

Tom says: “I’m totally fed up of people standing up and waving a flag for the death of institutions based on sketchy information and a vague belief in the rightness of their cause – and I’m also slightly sick of more moderate voices being drowned out under the revolutionary fervour of people fresh with their first wave of excitement about user-generated content on the web. Weblogs suffer from this enormously. Someone said that every journalist that writes about weblogs thinks that the year they discovered them is the year weblogs went mainstream. I’ve watched this for almost six years now. I now need people to think about what’s more likely to happen – that big media organisations, and governments and businesses will dry up and evaporate, or that some of them will adapt and change to a new ecology, renegotiate their place in the world and have a role in fashioning and supporting whatever it is that’s coming?”

Drew Cullen is now lambasting actual members of the audience who work on tech titles like Computer Weekly for not “getting” RSS. (Question – why did they invite him to the conference, exactly? In fact El Reg competes against several of their own titles, so they must know they are missing something).

It’s very interesting to be at the coal face as media owners are trying to work all this out…