What can we learn from the death of the world's first printed blog?
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It was – as the responses in the comments section of Karp's goodbye post attest – beloved by a vibrant community of readers. That's no small thing. And Karp was savvy in the way he went around building a readership: he wanted his audience to also be his contributors. People love to have their voice heard, and they love to hear what their peers think. Thus the appeal of any piece of Web 2.0 software.Skip to next paragraph
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And thus the (short-lived) spark of The Printed Blog.
Update 1: Today, Horizons spoke with Nick Belardes, a prolific Twitterer, forthcoming author, and journalist based in California. Belardes says he'd be open to running a print magazine of online content. "I would need a good sales team," he says. "You need a community, you need to fill a reader void, and have advertising dollars."
How does he know it can be done? In Bakersfield, where Belardes lives, a magazine called Bakotopia has been a huge success – and its model is somewhat similar to that of The Printed Blog. Bakotopia is a magazine, but it's also a website, chock full of user-generated content; a good deal of the magazine's copy comes from the very popular Bakotopia blogs. Belardes himself often contributes.
As for The Printed Blog, Belardes opines: "Josh Karp said he expanded too far. I’m not sure I totally agree with that. Doesn’t that mean he could shrink instead of quit? Sounds like seeking advertising dollars weren’t his cup of tea. Simple as that."
Just got off the phone with Josh Karp, who was gracious enough to return Horizons' call. Karp spoke first about the difference between print and web content – he recalled that the first issue of The Printed Blog featured a somewhat racy photograph on the cover. Several potential readers refused to take the newspaper because of the image. "The sensibilities [of print and online] are very different," Karp said. "What works online may not immediately translate to print."
Karp also talked about the mail he's received over the past few months. He said he was "not only proud, but humbled by the response to The Printed Blog." He said he got emails from as far afield as Singapore, Iraq, and Iran, and fielded queries from thousands of potential contributors. Meanwhile, he said, the number of followers of The Printed Blog's Twitter account soared. "It really was quite amazing," he said.
So what was driving all that traffic to The Printed Blog? Karp said the interest was driven by a very specific demographic. "In large part it was journalists writing about a potential future for themselves."
Were you a reader of The Printed Blog? Share your memories and thoughts in the comments section, or at @CSMHorizonsBlog.