On Blogging: A Word From the South Africans

by on April 7, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Winners of the South African blog contest have been unveiled across multiple categories. The “best blog across all categories” this year is 2 Oceans Vibe.

My buddy Nic, who was on the South African blogging expedition with us last December is listed as the first runner-up although they did win for best group blog. Matthew Buckland who also joined us for part of the tour is included in the runner-up list as well.

Interestingly enough, there have been a few debates raging since the ceremony on Friday night. including disappointment from one of the judges.

2oceansvibe won in 6 categories and although she was a judge, votes were weighted in favor of public votes. According to the rules, that means that ‘in the voting phase the vote weighting will be 30% judges and 70% public’ whereas in the nomination phase it is ‘50% judges 50% public.’

It sounds like she is disappointed with the voice of South Africans, in other words, where they spend their time and what they think about. She says, “I realise that there is a pretty large audience for tits, ass, cars, rugby and surfing, but the fact that this is the blog that we hold up to the world as our national pride and joy makes me want to hurl.”

She encourages the need to distinguish between popular voted blogs and then get the judges together to discuss their choice of winners that best reflects where South Africa is right now and where it is heading. Of course, that model is the old media model where two men decide which movie gets a two thumbs up or three book reviewers can influence whether a book makes it to the NY Times Bestseller List or not.

She talks about brand and the power of brand, in this case, something that stands for quality in the way that perhaps the Oscars do here. Her take: if the blog awards brand doesn’t have any meaning, any vision, any unique take on the world of blogging, then – ‘it becomes just another popularity contest.’

“The masses decide” is where its heading though – no more judges, very few editors (who can afford them now in the new Google economy where everything is expected for free), and less calling for experts, although we’ll return to experts soon enough as quality goes down. We now live in a Digg and Yelp society where hopefully over time, quality will rise to the top and the unauthentic voices and players will drop to the bottom.

The upside: more feedback and discovery than anytime in history. The downside: too much clutter and noise until the next genius brings out advanced filters that make that online discovery process even more efficient, more compelling and more fun.