The J-School is co-sponsoring an event this Friday on the business and commercial aspects of social software, and of blogging in particular. Lots of great speakers, but the theme basically boils down to the question of how to monetize the blogging phenomenon. The event’s main site is here, and I’ll be webcasting it live.
Something about this whole thing feels uncomfortable to me — isn’t the non-commercial aspect of blogging part of what makes it so powerful? That we’re able to sidestep The Man and forge our own editorial and distribution mechanisms? Monetization of the blogosphere serves the monetizers — how can it possibly serve bloggers? But what really got me steamed was the fact that the conference organizers asked me to force users who wanted to view the webcast to fill out a form and register with them first. I’m pretty accommodating, but I threw down the gauntlet on this one — I believe strongly that forced registration is an annoyance, and offers no benefit to viewers (I have no problem with voluntary registration, of course).
We’re an academic institution, and part of a culture of free information – why should I toss a bone to corporate organizers and drive away potential viewers in the process? The organizers felt that their viewers wouldn’t mind at all — surely they’re only thinking of the same sorts of viewers who are paying up to $550 to attend in person. In contrast, I believe that the 99% of viewers who watch the webcast in perpetuity will be “ordinary people,” and that ordinary people pretty much agree that We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Login. Culture clash.