Is it just me and my opinion, or has blogging become the new reality TV of the digital age?

“I am the entertainer, and I know just where I stand”

While there are plenty of bloggers who write because they love the creative outlet and want to share their thoughts and ideas with their audience, there are also a lot of bloggers who essentially monetize their lifestyle. Can’t say I blame them, but at least they can and should admit how they’ve sold out – and they are now the entertainers.

Occasionally, I feel like a hypocrite because I’m a fashion blogger myself, although it is not a full-time gig, and nor do I want it to be. But I do love to see other people’s style and I most definitely respect fashion as an art form, and I love to put together my own outfits as well. So we as fashion bloggers are collectively the entertainers as well.

And I play music, DJ, draw and paint too – so I truly do understand the artistic side of blogging – so I really do appreciate and love anyone who chooses to share their skills online, whether it is a marketing effort or not (no judgment from my side at at all). In fact, musicians who blog and share their work as well get my utmost respect – even and perhaps especially the ones who discuss how public opinion influences their work.

“Today I am your champion, today I’ve won your hearts”

But perhaps I’ve reached the status of being old school, at least on the internet. I remember when no one knew what blogging even was, and thought it was a stupid waste of time. Now, anyone who starts a blog or even an Instagram account wants to make money from it.

“But I know the game, you’ll forget my name, if I don’t stay on the charts”

It’s a fickle relationship between an artist of any kind and their fans – and yes, I include some but definitely not all bloggers in that category. Which isn’t a slight – some bloggers are journalists or curators – both of which are equally valuable to readers at large.

Which brings me into another idea that requires its own blog post – personally, I respect all types of art and the corresponding creators, even if something isn’t my own taste. And I hope everyone reading does the same.

“You don’t have to bump this, but please respect it”

You don’t have to be into hip hop to understand this Tupac lyric – it applies on all levels. It takes courage to be the creator and to open yourself up to critics. And I’ll just say it – I don’t respect the opinion of anyone who categorically dislikes any type of writing, art, music, or anything else because they don’t understand it or immediately get it. Respect the creator.

*PS. I might be the only person on the internet to quote Tupac and Billy Joel in the same post. Go me.

Growing up in the Detroit area wasn’t glamorous. I’m from the wrong side of 8 mile, and I am white, I am a fucking bum, but I have never lived in a trailer (although I have spent a couple vacation nights in them). And I’ve been to St. Andrews Hall, Clutch Cargos, and House of Beer parties.

Sorry mom and dad if you’re reading this, but I bet you aren’t that surprised. My first concert was Kid Rock before he was on MTV, I learned how to drive in various Ford vehicles, and I love me some Faygo Rock N Rye. That said, I had it pretty damn good compared to most people from the D.

Detroit VS. Everybody.

It’s almost a cliche or a standard trope at this point. Being from somewhere like Detroit – or Cleveland, or Gary, or anywhere else Rust Belt-ish and suitably depressing is pretty cool now. But only if you live in a better place now – New York, Chicago, San Francisco, L.A., Austin, Boston, etc.

America loves itself an underdog, but at what cost? Even most of Detroit’s most famous “alumni” have left the city. If you can, you get the hell out. But you still rep the D once you leave – and perhaps even more so if you’ve gotten out. It’s an compelling form of social currency, and perhaps what’s more important and more interesting is the sense of bravado that it lends you.

So question for the readers – how did where you grew up influence you later?

*Post sparked by the new Eminem release and the fact that many of us will be returning to our hometowns for Thanksgiving.

**More writing on Detroit to come.

Because I thought it was fitting to re-launch my blog with a shorter reprise of my earlier “100 Things” posts:

1. I am so pleased that SEO has actually become about creating quality content and providing useful information – especially I started in the days where keyword stuffing actually did work.

2. However, the sheer amount of link-building and SEO-centric content is still disappointing – I know everyone wants to get traffic, pageviews, and therefore those sweet advertising dollars and new client prospects. But don’t sacrifice quality. One original article that tells your story is worth a thousand or more crappy re-spun posts.

3. As much as I would like to pretend I am above the typical internet circle jerk sites that all repeat each others’ content, much of which is sourced from Reddit and other forums (sorry not sorry for the language – see what I did there?), I have some respect for them, and occasionally get sucked in by the catchy titles and funny combinations of gifs.

4. That said, I think Reddit might be one of the most valuable sources for inspiration and market research, especially if you look beyond the front page.

5. The fact that “Wasting Time On The Internet” is an actually Ivy League course will never cease to amuse me.

6. So many blogs and even companies try to copy each others’ marketing formulas – more so than ever. Looking at the “Best In Class” sites (however you define that) can be an inspiration, but it definitely doesn’t equal success.

7. The sheer number of ways to curate your experience and the content you receive amazes me – the web has basically become one big “choose your own adventure” game. But the number of users who take advantage of these is still relatively low – perhaps the amount of options are overwhelming and therefore it leads to mental inertia?

8. Pandora tops the mobile listings in regard to user interaction, and it is probably not that far behind for desktop as well. After all, listening to music is a relatively passive activity compared to posting on social media or similar ways to engage on mobile. We’ve come a long way from the days of Napster (yes, I remember and loved using Napster).

9. So many companies either neglect or make a big deal out of the simple things, like claiming all their listings and brand names on various sites, social media and otherwise. Don’t ignore it but don’t make the process overly complex, either.

10. Content discovery can be one of the most valuable aspects of the web in general, but it seems that the majority of people stick to the sites they know and trust.

11. The democratization of not only knowledge but access as well may be how the internet has truly changed the world. Almost anyone, anywhere can make themselves heard with nothing more than a mobile phone.

12. When you find yourself wishing that you could use emojis or gifs in an actual live conversation with another person, perhaps it is time to step away from technology for a bit. Use your words!

13. That said, a properly deployed meme can sometimes say more than words ever could.

14. This isn’t new, but it is underrated. The ability to reference virtually anything in a conversation or article and link right to the source might be my favorite element of the web – it is essentially real time citations on steroids (sans the academic regulations).

 

Now I”ll open it up to comments – what has changed about the web in the past 10 years for you?

Officially re-starting my blog – or maybe I never left, considering how many other places I’ve published since then (Google Jacqueline Zenn) for the run-down; if you count digital marketing and even ghost-writing, my work has accomplished even more.

Looking forward to engaging with new readers!

Six years ago I was a fresh college graduate just getting started in the online marketing world. The average person didn’t know what a blog was, Facebook was restricted to university students in the U.S., and Twitter had yet to be invented. And the web was just starting to be respected and understood by mainstream marketing firms and teams.

Today, bloggers appear in commercials and social media is a key part of the marketing mix for brands both large and small. Finally, some respect! That said, I still see companies struggling with the connectivity, the immediacy, and the transparency of the web, and how it is all integrated into their organization. It’s an interesting problem, and one that I’ll continue to write more about on this blog.

Unrelated and relevant only to fellow Chicagoans – my agency is hosting an event at Social Media Week on social engagement and content creation – RSVP! It will be a great chance to gain some expertise, network with your fellow members of the media, and generally have a fabulous time.

Yes, this blog has been quiet for a while – but I’ve been busy on Twitter (@jazspin), and I’ve been working on a number of exciting projects that truly exemplify the power and utility of the web.  Watch this space.  That said, it is has been nice getting out of the echo chamber for a while – there are plenty of amazing blogs out there, but there are also plenty that are bandwagon jumpers.  Another testament to the fact that people respond to authentic voices both online and offline.

On a related note, I recently re-read the Cluetrain Manifesto (ten year anniversary edition).  The first time I read it was online, sitting in my parent’s basement and probably signed into AOL chat talking with my friends and downloading music – it was 1999 and I was still in high school (yes, I was that much of a nerd even then).  I would like to think I am perceptive enough to have fully grasped it at the time, but not so much.  I did take away the knowledge that internet was going to change things forever, however, and that it was already making the world that much smaller and more connected.  I also recognized the way that the web opens doors – a realization that I did not fully take advantage of until I started my first blog, an endeavor that led to a gig with AOL, and the rest is history (and fodder for archive.org).

Today, I work on the web, developing interactive campaigns and changing the way businesses operate.  It has been an interesting road, to say the least.  There are days when I think I have to drag people kicking and screaming into the 21st century and days when I am so inspired and excited I want to do some Tom Cruise style couch jumping.  Fortunately, there are many, many more of the latter.

Everyone who doubts the power/usefulness of social media should read Andrew Sullivan’s post, “The Revolution Will Be Twittered“, and then check out the #iranelection hashtag on Twitter.

The key force behind this is the next generation, the Millennials, who elected Obama in America and may oust Ahmadinejad in Iran. They want freedom; they are sick of lies; they enjoy life and know hope.

This generation will determine if the world can avoid the apocalypse that will come if the fear-ridden establishments continue to dominate global politics, motivated by terror, armed with nukes, and playing old but now far too dangerous games. This generation will not bypass existing institutions and methods: look at the record turnout in Iran and the massive mobilization of the young and minority vote in the US. But they will use technology to displace old modes and orders. Maybe this revolt will be crushed. But even if it is, the genie has escaped this Islamist bottle.

I think the days of CNN breaking the news are over – people will share their stories themselves, bypassing the mass media conduit if necessary, and the role of the media will be to verify, organize, track, and curate the information reported via liveblogs, Twitter, etc.  The Huffington Post is doing a great job of that right now with their page on the Iran elections and subsequent fallout.

Out of the Echo Chamber

August 13, 2008

Maybe it is because August is vacation month for most of the world, but staying out of the blogging/new media echo chamber is pretty refreshing at the moment.

I think it is making me smarter more original.