[JtB] 3.0: David Pescovitz

I’m posting my revised notes from last night’s Joining The Blogosphere event at San Jose State University. This is the third of four panel members. My input is in italics.

David Pescovitz ran down a brief history of BoingBoing, the single most read blog around. In the 1980s, the diffusion of the PC lead to a surge in desktop publishing. With the ability to design and print pages came the “zine,” usually a short publication of a handful of pages and a few staples, with subject matter ranging from music to anarchy to “unusual sex practices.” BoingBoing was born as a print zine.

With the birth of the Web in 1993, BoingBoing used a website to promote the print zine. Content slowly worked its way onto the website, especially as it became easier to update and less time consuming for the writers, who were getting busy with “real” jobs.

In 1999, Mark Frauenfelder. started updating BoingBoing in a blog format – reverse chronological order, with newest items at the top of the page, and lots and lots of hyperlinks.

By 2005, BoingBoing’s writers included David, Mark F., Xeni Jardin, and Cory Doctorow.

What is BoingBoing about? “Everything and nothing.” “High weirdness.” David’s filtering system is whether or not something interests him. BoingBoing is the “cabinet of curiosities.” David cites BoingBoing as a way to tune in to a sense of wonder – hence the subtitle of the blog “A Directory of Wonderful Things.” Pescovitz is still a professional journalist, and uses BoingBoing as a sort of reporter’s notebook to keep track of the interesting things he finds in his research.

BoingBoing has started to sell advertising, but they are selective about it. They are making a little bit of profit and splitting it between themselves. BoingBoing’s pulling in over 225,000 visitors a day, according to Pescovitz, and he said “If you read us, thanks so much.”

(What is the value of BB? How important is it to reinforce our sense of wonder? Does BB succeed at that? Is BB an authority on what is “cool”? How do they vote with their links?)

David thinks that we should train our “bullshit detectors” through media literacy. We can start by making media literacy a mandatory part of the curriculum in public schools, teaching kids at the very least the rudiments of journalism, to help them understand bias and advertising – a sort of “general media literacy”.

(Is this realistic? Should a Newspaper or TV or Radio class be mandatory in High School?)

On the Apple case issue – do bloggers deserve the same protections as professional journalists? David says no – unless they’re journalists, and some bloggers are.

(Journalism as a principle, blogs as a medium.)