There's no doubt that we're in the middle of a media paradigm shift. I'm not sure if I really want to write yet another commentary rallying the rising power of bloggers or the sheer numbers of new participants… all you have to do is open your eyes, and you'll notice more and more bloggers using the medium to create meaningful, lucrative careers. However, there comes the time where one shouldn't be just pointing out the obvious, by saying ‘Hey there's a lot of blogs out there, and I don't like a lot of them.' and start asking questions like ‘Why are there so many blogs out there.' and ‘What can we as a community be doing to improve the dialogue'
A perusal of some of the aggregated content on [Inside the Tents] ITT causes one to pause and ask: are these bloggers really offering any unique expertise or vantage point that adds to the fashion dialogue? Some (though not all) of these bloggers appear to be more focused on themselves and on the celebrities in the front row than on the fashions on the runway. Unique opinions are few and far between.
Simply pointing out the lack of contributors with unique perspective or expertise to ITT struck me as a odd as the participants were some of the most prominent bloggers, ones who actually, have years of experience establishing a dialogue with their readers. Whether their opinions are good is perhaps missing the point that the unique expertise or vantage point has more to do with a real relationship than a mere broadcasting of opinion.
“Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself”
The truth is, in this whole media revolution we have several camps… each are scrambling to learn each other's game. I didn't know jack about fashion when I started my *ahem* fashion blog… I just liked dressing up. Since then, I spent a lot of time researching, figuring out what I liked and didn't like and why. Today, newspapers and journalists want me to link to their ‘blogs' and read them, though they've never commented on either of my blogs, they don't have a blog roll, they rarely reply to the one or two comments on their own blog… it's just another two dimensional media. They only getting half the the story.
Bloggers are successful because they establish lines of conversation… that means there's a two way street going on here, people are bored with just being talked “at” rather than “to.” Professional journalists are successful because they are experts at articulating their thoughts and they have valuable connections. We're bound to meet at some point, hopefully to establish an inclusive and informed dialogue.
While talking about what doesn't work is fine, it it's easy to criticize, it's easy to have ideas… it's hard to actually do anything them. While ITT wasn't perfect, it was indeed a step in creating a community by providing a platform for bloggers to work together to create a stronger voice. Sure there was a lot of sorting out what was good and what was crap, but then same could be said about Style.com, there was loads of crap on there too, but that's just my critical opinion. The real thing we should be talking about is how both ITT and Style.com address a problem by giving a real solution by providing a space for those of us who can't be at fashion week to gain access to the runways.
There's no virtue in waiting for the perfect solution, we don't have to wait to become experts to start something special, because becoming an expert is a process. Sure there are mistakes, and the good thing about mistakes is they are a lot easier to learn from than success.
So what about the solution?
There are loads of solutions… we're not going to leave you hanging (for long) for instance, just because the critics don't always say the nicest things, that doesn't mean they should be discounted entirely. Wendy Brandes pointed there's a lot repetition out there when as 30 bloggers post about Kate Lamphear. This Thursday we'll be going over some tips on strengthening your unique voice. So by next time NYFW rolls around both Business of Fashion and Inside the Tents will be happy.
Cat Image ‘Charlie' by Hey Paul on Flickr.