November 24, 2005

"They have no idea what they want to be or why they exist."

Concludes Jeff Jarvis upon reading the self-criticism session over at Pajamas Media. The Pajamas insiders are openly discussing their problems. Everyone admits the site is boring, skimpy, corporate-looking, and lacking bloggishness. Tammy Bruce writes about wanting to capture a "feel and structure" that's "smart but revolutionary, rebellious." Hmmm....What's more corporate than trying to think up ways to express rebelliousness?

By the way, what do you think of the new Pajamas logo? It's a bathrobe -- with emanations.

Anyone still want to accuse me of being too critical of Pajamas? The insiders are now saying many of the same things openly on the blog -- partly, probably, in an effort to convey that rebel spirit they need to mask the corporateness. It would be interesting to know what criticisms they are hurling about in private. You can look at their comments and try to figure out what they are not talking about -- the lack of advertising for one thing.

Anyway, here's another Pajamas post for you all. I didn't want to have to do it, but the self-criticism session is too big to ignore.

UPDATE: Steven Bainbridge looks at the Pajamas "blogjam" and says "at the risk of descending to a level of crudeness to which this blog rarely goes, the only phrase that comes to mind is 'circle jerk.'" Well, at the risk of descending to a level of crudeness to which this blog rarely goes, Bainbridge is giving me ideas for another joke like the one found here, which sent those Pajama entity boys into a tizzy.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jarvis's post included the line "Finish this sentence in no more than 10 words: Pajamas Media is _________________." Some wags are filling in that blank:
Right Thoughts: Pajamas Media is (run and topped by) an elitist group of uberbloggers who couldn’t care less about the health of the blogosphere at large as long as they get their names in the paper and get to spend that venture capital money.

Laurence Simon: My sneaky answer is "Pajamas Media probably won't be sending it's members more checks.", but based on the lack of two-way communication by the management and editorial board with the member bloggers, I get the distinct feeling who cares what I think.
(Simon is one of the insiders, so let's admire his nerve, breaking the code of silence.)

MORE: Aaron on the logo: "Ann, those aren’t emanations. That’s stink."

AND MORE: Lots more from Laurence Simon here:
There is zero communication with the member sites right now... Right now, things feel elitist in nature, and this blogjam just reinforces the views of the members I've chatted with privately that we're being kept at arms length. That builds up resentment and frustration at the silence.

More as I comb through my notes and work up constructive criticism of it. I have some really bad memories of Go.com, Starwave, Jamie Barton, ESPN, DIG, and iXL that takes a while to boil out all the bad blood so I can examine the rotten, putrid flesh underneath clinically and dispassionately for enlightenment with regards to this current fiasco.

I'm sorely tempted to throw up a PHP bulletin board and send out invitations myself. Unlike certain people, I don't believe you need an osm.org or pajamasmedia.com domain name to quick-and-dirty build these tools when there's an emergency. Sitting around and waiting for the "proper" tools to be supplied to you when disaster is crashing all around is reminiscent of the appearance-obsessive, press-fearing superficial Michael Brown of FEMA.
Like my hat? I got it at Nordstroms. Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?

YET MORE: The Pyjamas Media logo is much nicer. I love the way they kept the "stink" marks.

AND: Nice spoof of the hand-wringing blogjam.

35 comments:

reader_iam said...

It's a bathrobe -- with emanations.

What, no penumbras?

Sorry--durned if I could resist.

Next break from the rerun of the Martha Stewart "Apprentice" episode I'm watching, I swear I'll go read the actual link.

playah grrl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
none said...

I think they might have some difficulty regaining their "street credibility" with these attempts at openness and transparency. Maybe they should've invited Althouse to participate. Now that would've been interesting. Even if Ann had turned them down, they could've said she was invited. Or Frank at IMAO. Or Laurence and his cats.

I'm just not sure the blogosphere thinks as much about Charles and Roger and Glenn and the media types they have brought on board as they seem to think it does. Having said that, I think this exercise was a step in the right direction. So kudos.

Asher Abrams said...

I like the new logo. Probably someone will nitpick that a bathrobe is not, technically pajamas, but I think it's fun and comfy looking. The "emanations" give it sparkle and energy.

(But then I'm biased - I was actually in my bathrobe when I first saw it!)

Mark Daniels said...

My take on the whole OJM/Pajamas Media business is:

(1) When they first announced the thing months ago, I didn't get what they were trying to accomplish and now that they've launched, I understand it even less.

They talk about encouraging the sponataneity and freewheeling-ness of blogging. But since that already exists, how is that encouraged through the establishment of a blogging portal that appears designed to create a blogging pecking order of ins and outs? The whole bunch seems to have traded in their pajamas for suits while wanting to pretend they're still in pajamas. It's bizarre!

(2) I think that part of the problem with the entire OJM/Pajamas effort is that it misunderstands blogging at a fundamental level, even though its founders themselves understand blogging very well.

While blogging is dialogical and creates all sorts of links and conversations between people, it is still fundamentally an individual pursuit.

And I think that's for the best. There isn't a single group blog that I read with any regularity. I like going to blogs where, on a daily basis, I not only will be informed or enlightened, but will have those things happen through the prism of a particular individual's perspective. The best blogs are written from the vantage point of one person, the more individuated and almost iconoclastic, the better.

Group blogs, which to the extent I can understand OJM/Pajamas, it appears to be, feel like conversations interrupted. They get homogenized and in the cases of both OJM/Pajamas and Huffington, corporatized. They seem irrelevant and very like the mainstream media they claim to eschew.

(3) I hate the logo. If the OSM logo looked like the symbol of a trucking firm, the PJM logo looks like something you'd see on the label of a women's garment.

Other than that, I think that Pajamas Media is a great enterprise.

Mark Daniels

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Finn Kristiansen said...

We here should come up with some suggestions for them. I like the robe (yea, the comfyness) but not sure if it's quite right. Maybe just the robe itself is fine. Sort of the opposite of suits.

However:

1) Their main page should be bigger, longer, sort of a constantly updated list of posts by the "house bloggers".
2) There should be original reporting up top in the lead spot. Quite honestly if MSM ever rolled over and died, we would all be back blogging about how cute our kids are. (Well, not me actually, having neither kids or a topical blog for the most part).
3) Their lead story-with original reporting-should allow for comments so the blogging world can reach in and touch the story.
4) There should be a link to a page with every MSM oranization out there, and a running frequently updated history of their reporting errors (or successes). Call it the MSM Vivi-Section or something.
5) The main page should have a section that constantly points out new or engaging blogs, spreading some love around, akin to the existing Instapundit, but maybe more targeted each day by category. (Today, food blogs!)
6) From a business perspective, blogs should be allowed to set up in groups (like "war" or "pro Hillary") and then some sort of small proprietary text ad conduit should be set up, open to all bloggers, but springing out of PJM. Almost like a google text ad, but owned and operated by PJM. Blogads is not really an open system, so more alternatives are necessary.
7) There should be a link to a "guest page", where some guest person from the real world can "write a letter" to the world (It will draw eyeballs).

Just a few suggestions.

Robert said...

The interesting thing is how OSM/Pajamas is trying to weasel out of responsibility for launching a loser, and how they're desperately attempting to shift blame to the people they hired to realize their "vision," such as it is.

I left a detailed comment at Jeff Jarvis' blog if anybody's interested.

It's fun to watch these sanctimonious "superior" bloggers dissemble and backtrack, but I do feel rather badly for the branding agency/consultants who did their best to help OSM achieve its goals, only to be wrongly blamed for its failure.

Although, at this point, I'm not surprised. Clearly the people behind OSM/Pajamas are a Bunch Of Boobs™ and nothing they say can shift the blame for that.

Asher Abrams said...

Finn Krisiansen, I think those are all excellent ideas.

reader_iam said...

Finn!!!! Wow!!!!!

Really.

Um, ever thought about being a consultant (and I know that you know, give our previous communications, that that's not a necessarily loaded word for me--in fact, it's paid for my child's education, among other things, over time) yourself?

You've pretty much "thumbnailed" it.

You go, guy.

jaycurrie said...

The BlogJam itself was the first interesting thing PJM/OSM has put up. Which suggests that they might think of using something like that as their front page.

WhatsAPundit said...

"I didn't want to have to do it, but the self-criticism session is too big to ignore."

Seems to be a lot about PJM that's too big to ignore....

Charlie (Colorado) said...

The interesting thing is how OSM/Pajamas is trying to weasel out of responsibility for launching a loser, and how they're desperately attempting to shift blame to the people they hired to realize their "vision," such as it is.

Wow. You can tell it's a loser in, what, a week?

Pooh said...

I think AA has discovered that the first rule of Pajamas Media is that you don't talk about Pajamas Media,

The second rule of Pajamas Media...

Barry "iPod" Johnson said...

Perhaps in a future episode of "The Apprentice" we'll see Trump give the week's task:

To come up with a new Mission Statement/Corporate Image for Open Source Pajamas

Robert said...

Wow. You can tell it's a loser in, what, a week?

They're the ones saying it's a loser: "Today's panelists, all members of Pajamas Media's Editorial Advisory Board, will be carving up the turkey that was OSM (Open Source Media) and has now been reborn as Pajamas Media."

If it wasn't a loser, why would they be trying so hard to place blame on somebody else for leading them astray?

It's a loser, all right.

tefta said...

Ragging on the pajama people isn't fun anymore. They're making it way too easy, but I couldn't resist this clip art of a guy sleep walking in his pajamas.

Simon said...

While bloggers blogging about blogs and blogging is almost inherently uninteresting, and so at the rist of unintentionally joining in the PJM debate, I still admit to being at a loss to what the point of this enterprise is, even, let alone why it has gained the right to take itself so seriously. It's a "portal to the blogosphere"? What is it that it does that Technorati doesn't?

There are a lot of people I respect and blogs I enjoy involved in this project, but so far as I can tell, it doesn't really amount to a whole hill o'beans.

pastorshaun said...

This is exactly what you've been saying Ann. Your commenters have a better sense of what PM should be than PM does. Huffington (egads) drew more initial attention than these guys.

And the bathrobe? How hard would it have been to do a pair of crumpled PJs? Do I detect a hidden symbol in the ribbing? Is it a 'Y'? (Why are we doing this?) An upside down peace sign? A cross? The mark of Rambaldi?

I think when it comes down to it, they are trying too hard. Blogs have always had an organic quality that you can't achieve through standard corporate models. It is similar to the way the corporate model has taken over the church today.

Simon Kenton said...

The orange highlights on the robe are a truncation of the symbol for Ra. But what the meaning of that may be I don't conjecture.

Charles said...

The issue is not one of being overly critical, although I could see the point of some that it seems a tad obsessive (not necessarily a negative). The issue I perceive as a reader of this blog seems to be that you have some sort of personal issue with anyone associated with the venture.

Your response to Jeff Goldstein in the comments is an apt example. Obviously, PM was tongue-in-cheek "live blogging" the over the top cheery network TV coverage of the event and not providing a straight news report of the parade itself. Not the height of comedic art, but a nice turkey day diversion.

Recognizing that, it's pretty easy to understand that as TV viewers, they would have had absolutely no way to know of the seriousness of the incident at the time that they blogged it because their particular little comic sketch relied solely on the network TV parade coverage (not news coverage) as source material.

Still, you seemed not to grasp this and, in my opinion, went after Jeff much harder than deserved.

Your comments were, "But when I saw there was an accident, I wondered how you treated it. So I looked to see what you had, and frankly I could not believe you'd handled it so abysmally. Snuff films? This is the most evil pornography!"

Again, read the live blog. It's patently obvious that this was parody of TV parade coverage - coverage that completely glossed over the accident.

If you want to go after PM for not being on the spot news, or for not seeming to have a fully developed mission (and I'm right there with you on that point), then do that. Frankly, I don't care all that much about PM, and, but for repeated references here and on Jarvis, it's been pretty easy to ignore since the launch.

The concern to me, as a long time reader and admirer of this blog, is that some of your points come across petty and personal, rather than substantive. I don't think that's your intent, but I do think that's how some come across.

Glad to hear that you had a nice Thanksgiving, and I do think that Boogie Nights is a very appropriate Thanksgiving classic.

Sorry for the long comment. Internal editing tool not working well this morning.

Icepick said...

So I guess I'm the only one that thinks the BlogJams look like Usenet forum? A bad Usenet forum without the comment structure?

Laurence said...

I went ahead and created pajamasmedia.isfullofcrap.com and installed a forum/bulletin board there. Come on in.

Took me five minutes. What's OSM/PM's excuse?

IndividualEthos said...

what?

Asher Abrams said...

Laurance, great job!

Asher Abrams said...

*Laurence* sorry!

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Just because it seems to be such an issue, I want to make clear that "Charles" above isn't "Charlie (Colorado)" either.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Sarah, I thought the point of the whole "Roger phone call" story was that Ann was invited and turned them down. Did I miss something?

Charlie (Colorado) said...

Oh, wait, never mind --- you mean the discussion, don't you?

Internet Ronin said...

Charlie - Are you saying Professor Althouse was or is lying about her conversation with Roger Simon?

DonSurber said...

Finish this sentence in no more than 10 words: Pajamas Media is _________________."

... UPDATE: Heh. Indeed (linked to Amazon for the kickback)

Ann Althouse said...

Ronin: I'm sure no one thinks I'm lying about the phone call with Roger Simon. The PM folks don't hesitate to attack me when they think they see an opportunity. If my description of the phone call were subject to attack, you would have heard it. Simon has talked to other people about the phone call.

mightcan said...

I wanted to trackback your comments about Protein Wisdom and/or comment, but you had closed them. I also didn't know how to email, so I apologize for posting here. I've had run-ins with him too. I support you and posted this:]
(www.mightcan.typepad.com)

Oh, this is rich! Protein Wisdom gets into a pissing match, in another blog's comments. Key difference, she allowed his comments, even though they were critical of her, until the vituperation of his gollum groupies become too much. I've noticed that my comments on his site haven't usually survived. For what its worth, Ms. Althouse, he's deleted my comments and my trackbacks. You were clearly more brave and fair than he. What a chickenshithawk.

tefta said...

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? An appropriate and cute logo after only three tries.

Ann Althouse said...

Tefta: Appropriate? If you think a bathrobe represents pajamas. And it's not an attractive bathrobe. No woman would envy that figure. It's all short-waisted and hippy. And it can't be a man's bathrobe. And the colors! I wonder if anyone connected with the site has a feel for visual aesthetics, other than rudimentary website design stuff. That's one ugly icon.