November 01, 2006

The Arrington Economy

"Some people seem to think that I either need to shut down TechCrunch, or stop investing. Here’s my answer: No."

TechCrunch seems to be down--I won't speculate whether that's because of a technical glitch or a temper glitch--but the words above are from Mike Arrington's post at CrunchNotes responding to all of the discussion lately over Mike, his site, his views, his mouth, and his business practices.

Of all the words in his post--some that make me want to pull out my own hair out--I like this sentence. As everyone knows, Mike has every right to run his business and his site how he likes. And as everyone knows, folks have every right to: poke fun, slam, love, hate, admire, envy, diss or ignore TechCrunch. Advertisers have the right to invest their money there or not.

That's why Mike's "No" is an appropriate response. Although I'm not sure the entire issue is the Federal Case Mike's interpreting it as. Mike doesn't shy away from controversy, so why does this last round of flack for his processes and views have him on the defensive? There's got to be something more. And that something must have to do with money, because everything does.

Whatever the deal is, and even though Mike pisses me off when he's oblivious to his own ego, I hope he gets back to the site soon and keeps doing what he's doing because TechCrunch is an important part of both the online tech food chain and the social structure of the blogosphere. Whatever you think of Mike, that's the case. I read TechCrunch every day. Even when I get pissed at Mike's mouth, I still read it. I enjoy the rise that he gets out of me. I usually also post about what I agree with and what I don't care for--and I'm usually NOT careful about NOT offending the folks at TechCrunch even though I and MY BUSINESS are part of the Arrington Economy. Because once I start caving to that, I lose credibility. And I'm not mainstream, so my voice is all I have.

The thing Mike doesn't understand as he slams mainstream media is that TechCrunch is under fire because TechCrunch has gone mainstream by blogworld standards. Once you have gained 13,000 inbound links and are being beamed out to every conceivable device and delivery channel, and once you have a business model and revenue stream dependent on the broadcast of your content across all of those channels, then you have become mainstream. You can jump up and down about not being mainstream and how you're not mainstream because you're happily biased. But you are broadcasting. Period. And a few responses to reader comments doesn't change that fact.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it does mean that you're not going anywhere anytime soon. You are entrenched and hard coded. No sit-in or protest or number of insults can take you down. You are in power.

Just as Mike believes his work helps gives mainstream media a reality check, he has to understand that that same dynamic is in play with his site and the people who criticize him.

It's one thing to know this because it's common sense, and it's another thing to know it when you're in the hot seat. I would imagine it's also harder to parse it when friends and people you respect are among those checking-and-balancing your ass as they light coals under your feet.

So all of this is my uneducated read on what's going on. Some people may think Mike's power is dangerous enough to try to run him out of town. Unless you run Technorati and Google out of town too, you're not going to run Mike out of town because link loyalty online is even more difficult to change than customer behavior offline.

Mike may want us to stop ranting and criticizing how he conducts his business and what he rants about. That's probably not going to happen. We may want him to behave more this way or that way. That's not going to happen either. Which essentially means that all's well with the net.

I just wish he'd stop sounding like Dave Winer has taken residence in his left ear.

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