Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Examining the Counter-Culture

Right now Syntagma is leading the counter-culture in the blog network space — at least according to Martin Neumann’s eGonzo feature over at The Blog Herald.

First we had Syntagma Media recently wash their hands of the whole blog network label and launch into we’re now a “web network magazine”. That received much coverage here at The Blog Herald. The jury is still out. But from all accounts it’s designed to reach different audiences … to be different. I understand the theory behind it.

It’s interesting that many people are now starting to “get” what we’re doing here. Those who aren’t are usually folk who have vested interests in the word “blog”, either through incorporated business names or website titles.

The common word used to describe the whole “Web 2.0” phenomenon, in which many people toil for years without making a single penny piece in return — is “mashup”. You know, if I wanted to invent a term of abuse to heartily condemn Web 2.0 madness, I couldn’t do better than mashup. The irony is that this is the mashed up word Web 2ers use to promote their strange, unprofitable alchemy.

Bottom line time : All this tech gets in the way of “normal” readers who don’t thrill at the mention of OPML outliners. Simplicity is the key to readability, and that doesn’t mean the joys of Netscape, Digg or other Web 2.0 jungles. It means the ease of access of a plain old print magazine : a contents list, a summary under the titles, and the blog equivalent of a page number – a link. In other words, make recognizable pathways through the content without esoteric references to “feeds”, “RSS”, “aggregation”, “social networks” and all the other mashups.

To obtain the loyalty of non-geek readers (who outnumber geeks by a million to one) you have to offer familiarity, and content that’s varied and never dull. All lie within the remit of the common or garden print magazine publisher.

We’re trying to do just that here at Syntagma Web Network Magazine. There’s a fair way to go yet, but you can watch it evolve here.

2 Responses to “Examining the Counter-Culture”

  1. According to me, you’re leading the counter-culture in the blog network space – hmmm 😉

    That sounds very gonzo-ish … so cool, you’re leading counter cutlure revolutionaries. :-)

    What I see though, is a growing (but still small) trend against blogs – at least from those outside of blogging looking in.

    I guess blogs like Blog Herald and those who have “blog” in their names have as their targets bloggers and those interested in the blogging scene – so they have picked their audience and should thrive as long as blogging is around in some form.

    And there’s nothing wrong with a little mashup … oh, I’m thinking of some bangers n’ mash – sorry. :-)

  2. The counter-culture starts here, Martin. 😉

    Actually it’s not blogs I object to but the word itself. Dynamic HTML is a wonderful technology which is revolutionizing personal media – rightly so. Here, we use “blog” technology and make no bones about it.

    But to the vast majority of people, a “blogger” is a lone voice crying out in the wilderness. The “blogosphere” was invented to counteract that tendency, and it’s done that for its inward looking audience, but not much beyond that.

    Commercial networks, specializing in content provision rather than direct sales, need to learn from earlier models to maximize their reach in the marketplace. The top-flight print magazine is the perfect example of how to present quality content in a simple, reader-friendly way.

    My argument is as simple as that, and certainly isn’t “anti-blog” or network.

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