I keep coming back to this Generous Web meme that I began to write about in April.
My first post on it was in response to a post by Tim O’Reilly based on a Doc Searls email, as well as the Pinko Marketing concept that my fellow Canadian, Tara Hunt, was trying to promote as the next Cluetrain. (Tara is full of brilliant ideas – she might only need to work on their branding.) In fairness, I should note that another Canadian, Kate, responding to the same Searls post came to the same concept (Generous Web) the day before me. (Must have something to do with being Canadian.) The simple reality is that the real progenitor of the Generous Web and one of its best examples is Doc Searls. From the Doc to Tim email:
"…relationship is what actually makes markets. I’m talking about real markets here: places where we do business and make culture. Relationship takes the passions we put into creating businesses and makes them work in the social context we call a market. (Did anybody ever go into business because they were looking for a way to please stockholders?)
You have to be generous in relationships.
I learned this from a Nigerian theologian named Sayo Ajiboye, by the way."
Further, I promised to write an essay on it, that never materialized. My good friend, Ed Brenegar filled in many of the holes in my thoughts with his well written post here. And Kami Huyse wrote a great post, called the Culture of Generosity – which I found through Shel Israel’s post that both appreciated and expressed concern with Tara’s Pinko Marketing while positively commenting on Kami’s post.
So why do I write about this again this week. What investment do I have in it that causes me to respond to what I see as an attempt to create The Generous Web™ – a response to what some see as an Us and Them Blogosphere, with "them" being "A-listers" and The Generous Web™ owners, the "us". I’m not really interested in this bifurcated blogosphere, and neither do I buy it. Further, "them" appear to be looking for a way to montetize the Generous Web meme. It seems to me be an adventure in missing the point.
Without the ubiquity of the web there wouldn’t be a blogosphere. (Thank you, Sir Tim.) There wouldn’t be a sea of people generously sharing their ideas, thoughts, fears, stories, emotions and more. Some of the best blog writers might appear in Main Stream Media outlets – but many great ones would not. Either as a result of their fear of rejection (that the seeming anonymity of the web has helped them overcom)e, or because their "real jobs" wouldn’t give them the time to pursue an outlet for their creativity. (I doubt Robert Scoble would have the voice he has today – and I, for one, would miss him.)
The Generous Web has unleashed a sea of voices in the blogosphere – voices we might not otherwise have heard. And what of the power of these blog writers – A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list." according to A-Lister, Jeff Jarvis.
"Blogosphere A-Listers" has become a pejorative phrase, at least for some of those lessor-read blog writers. As if somehow the success of the A-List blogs in attracting an audience has automatically made them arrogant. Proud, perhaps – arrogant, certainly not my experience. (I love this David Freeman quote on the difference between Arrogance and Pride – ‘Arrogance is "I’m valuable, you’re nothing." Pride, or dignity is "I’m valuable, you’re valuable.") I have had email and blog conversations with many A-Listers. They are open and accessible in my experience – which is partly why they are as successful as they are.
It’s rather obvious that I resent the attempt to hijack the Generous Web meme. It is not mine to control or direct (as it wasn’t mine to begin with*) but I am ticked that some seem to want to use it as a way to seperate from – rather than embrace the Open Source sharing of much wisdom, knowledge and even humour across the entire blogosphere.
Written from a desk in Imbi’s and my temporary flat in Nairobi, Kenya.
BTW – "Adventures in Missing the Point" is shamelessly stolen from the title of a book by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo.
*If you do a Technorati search of "Generous Web" in quotes, you’ll find Kate first mentions it on April 7th, me on April 8th – both of us in response to Doc Searles, as mentioned at the top of the post. Others, much later to the party, have claimed it as their own.