Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Nothing to Lose

The other morning I had breakfast with chartreuse. After a few debates about sports, media and the state of the universe we got on the topic of blogs. I believe it began with us both saying we were generally unimpressed by what’s out there at the moment. Not sure what it is, but it seems like there’s less and less of interest being written (which of course leads to less interesting writing since everyone is really commenting on everyone else).

Anyway, the conversation eventually shifted and I got into my speech on why big media companies are having difficulty fighting in this new age. I think I’ve said it here before, but the argument goes something like this: Big media companies are used to fighting against other big media companies. CBS and ABC will fight over ad revenue or programming, but neither is willing to undercut the other at the expense of the television model. The incentive, then, is for a competitor to undercut the competition ever so slightly while at the same time raising the water line for all the players.

Today, however, CBS and ABC are competing against me. Obviously I don’t have the numbers, but on a micro level, every minute you spend here is a minute not spent with them. The danger for the big media companies is that I don’t care about their model: I haven’t made a dime directly off this blog and don’t plan to. That means they’re fighting the crazy guy, and, as everyone knows, you never want to fight the guy with nothing to lose.

After going through my whole explanation (which I’ve rehearsed many times before), chartreuse looked at me and said “what would you do if you were a big media company?” I gave it some thought, and replied with something dumb . . . clearly he had an answer in mind, but I couldn’t resist trying to come up with something. So after I gave my fairly dim-witted response, he gave me five words: “Give them something to lose.

And, as often is the case, he was exactly right. When I read Umair’s post “Blogonomics 2007, Or How The Blogosphere Lost It’s Mojo the other day, I knew I had to write about our conversation. Umair writes, “Most of the blogs that have gone pro have lost their mojo. They’re boring now – not fun to read, losing their appetite for risk, they almost never take a position on anything anymore, in lieu of the same old middle-of-the-road presentation you can get, well, in any lame old newspaper.”

In other words, they now have something to lose.

PS – I am updating the site a bit. Anyone who is over at the homepage will see that the Sidenotes have changed a bit (now include video) and there is a complete overhaul in the works. If anyone wouldn’t mind helping me out by taking a look at the new design, I’d love feedback. You can see an early version at https://www.noahbrier.com/nb4.

November 24, 2007