As a extension of the fractured commenting discussion a separate issue has emerged: is our blog content becoming a commodity? There have a been a few good posts on this around the blogosphere presenting both sides of the argument.
As far as I see it content has always been a commodity just like any other it's just that the web is always changing and the same rules that applied 3 years, even 1 year, ago don't apply any more. Social media is taking over the world - it is no longer just about isolated islands of content.
Blogging has an air of vanity about it for many - we want to be heard and appreciated that's why a lot of bloggers obsess over their stats. Getting your content read by people is a challenge and a thrill - it is also quite addictive. Monetisation of blogs is a relatively recent phenomenon and a number of people are now making quite a good living from being professional bloggers; are they under threat? No, I don't think so.
Why do we join social media sites? Why do we add our blogs to aggregators? Exposure. We want as many people as possible to be aware of who we are and what we do - build a big enough audience and rewards or opportunities are bound to follow. I don't blog for money but the previous blog got me noticed and I had the chance to get paid for writing an article for a major UK magazine. Unless you are specifically setting out to make money directly from your website then the benefits are secondary or maybe even tertiary.
It's all about exposure creating opportunity.
Steven Hodson (as quoted by Sarah Perez) is concerned that brands are being diluted due to content - and subsequently the discussion around it - being diluted across the web. I don't agree. Different people use different services and, whilst there are a number who also spread themselves across a whole range, frequently do not venture beyond its boundaries. Having content re-posted across these boundaries is not diluting the brand but creating a greater brand awareness in places that otherwise it may not have existed. These people new to your content are then more likely to come back to the source, subscribe to your feed and become a direct customer rather than an indirect one - this is certainly the way I operate when I come across a blog on a social site I have not seen before.
Look at Scott Sigler for example. Who, you might ask? Scott was the first person to serialise a novel via a podcast - giving it away for free. A novel is a significant undertaking and many traditional authors would be horrified at the thought of giving one away, wasting all that time and effort. Scott is now podcasting his fifth full length novel and has broadcast a number of shorter works but the way in which it is done means his fans (lovingly referred to as junkies) keep coming back. Regular interaction with them means a rapport has developed and Scott has been able to prove that building this rapport leads to listeners becoming paying customers - he now has a book deal with Crown Publishing
Stealing our content?
It has been argued that social sites are stealing our content for their own ends - maybe so, but if that content is good enough the reader will want more and go looking for the source. Times are changing and we must continue to adapt by promoting ourselves and pushing our content out there rather than rely on word to spread perhaps in ways we don't want. If you're giving it away then it can't be stolen but you can then reap the additional benefits.
There are a lot of opinions and I am sure that no single one is the right one but each opinion is correct for that individual and their own circumstances. What's yours?