There's a lot of talk these days about the power of blogs.
Newspaper editors, public relations executives and marketing gurus all chatter in stage whispers about bloggers and blogging, flashing to the world their newfound hipness to the view of social media as the latest Next Big Thing.
For ordinary bloggers and savvy internet users who follow blogs, of course, social media stopped being the Next Big Thing and became just The Thing to Do sometime circa 2002.
But those holding the keys to the Information Kingdom were bound to notice eventually that legions of formerly voiceless peasants seem to have acquired soapboxes and megaphones.
And now, huge corporations court bloggers' favor; newspapers snatch up blog content to fill out their coverage (and don't always bother to ask permission, or credit the bloggers they "borrow" from); advertising executives create MySpace and Facebook pages, begging people to make friends with brands, and marketing departments pay out millions to social media "experts" for tips on designing the perfect corporate blog.
Among all this talk of "harnessing," "leveraging" and "monetizing" the world of blog content, little attention is being paid to the rights and interests of the people who originally created that world of content: the bloggers themselves.
Newcomers to the blogosphere seeking to cash in on the value of blog content need to be reminded: It's not just blog content that has value. It's bloggers who have value. Without the people who write blogs&mdash without the skill, dedication, and talent blog authors tap to draw in their audiences&mdash there would be no value in blogging.
And occasionally bloggers, too, need to be reminded that they themselves, as content creators, have value. While many seasoned bloggers have come know all too well how important it is to be vigilant about defending one's work, some casual bloggers find it hard to fathom that their little amateur online journal project could really be worth something to anyone other than themselves. They don't understand why big-time publications might want to exploit it, why mega corporations might want to buy it, or why sploggers might want to steal it.
So I'm pleased to announce the formation of a new organization, founded by a group of local bloggers who care about building and protecting the local blogging community: The St. Louis Bloggers' Guild. Dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights and interests of St. Louis bloggers through education, community outreach, and cooperative community-building, The St. Louis Bloggers' Guild will be accepting new members shortly.
Go check it out.