rebound

Posted on December 1, 2010
Filed Under computing, culture | Leave a Comment

One of the original inspirations for the likeithateit lifestyle weblog, was the great poobah of linkblogging and all around geek awesomeness Boingboing. The following article from Fastcompany , takes you through the history of that website, from its beginnings as an actual, in your hand zine, through to its days as an expensive hobby up to the present and its minted existence as the platonic ideal of blogging.  Enjoy

Back in 1999, Mark Frauenfelder wrote an article about new web tools that made it easier to do something called “blogging.” His editors at the technology magazine The Industry Standard declined to publish it, concluding that blogging didn’t really seem like a very big deal. Turns out it was.

It’s certainly been a very good thing for Frauenfelder, who deployed the tools he learned about for his ill-fated article to start posting interesting links and offbeat observations on boingboing.net. In time, three friends who shared a similar appetite for curious information filtered through a nonmainstream worldview — Cory Doctorow, Xeni Jardin, and David Pescovitz — joined him. And by the mid-2000s, Boing Boing had become one of the most-read and linked-to blogs in the world.

We know what happens next: This hobby morphs into a successful business. But Boing Boing’s version of that tale is a little different. Frauenfelder and his partners didn’t rake in investment capital, recruit a big staff and a hotshot CEO, or otherwise attempt to leverage themselves into a “real” media company. They didn’t even rent an office. They continued to treat their site as a side project, even as it became a business with revenue comfortably in the seven figures. Basically, they declined to professionalize. You could say they refused to grow up.

“Boing Boing is a holdover from a time when the best blogs were written by smart people who posted whatever was interesting to them,” observes Jonah Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed. Sure, there are still many such blogs around, but the blogosphere overall has changed radically, with the dominant players falling into recognizable categories — tech (Gizmodo, Engadget), gossip (TMZ, Gawker), politics (the Huffington Post, Politico) — and generally created by teams of professionals looking for growth and profits. “The new generation of postpersonal blogs,” Peretti adds, “are much bigger.”

Yet boingboing.net [1] remains among the most popular 10 or 20 blogs around. According to Quantcast data, it gets about 2.5 million unique visitors a month, racking up 9.8 million page views, a traffic increase of around 20% over 2009. It attracts blue-chip advertisers such as American Express and Verizon. It makes a nice living for its founders and a handful of contract employees.

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