When an organization whose goal it is to revolutionize the way in which people receive information asks its readers “What should we be?” more than a week after its much-hyped re-launch, odds are it’s in trouble.
Pajamas Media (which changed its name to “Open Source Media” just after its launch, but still calls itself “Pajamas Media” — despite the fact that its URL is OSM.org), a for-profit blog collective whose reason for existing is still apparently up for debate more than a week after it launched, recently asked its readers and contributors just that question. Here’s some of what members of the “Pajamas Media’s Editorial Advisory Board” had to say about the question:
Glenn Reynolds: The site is “too sterile and corporate-looking … The logo — which I guess will be obsolete [it’s a bathrobe] — is similarly sterile and corporate-looking … I think that overall the Pajamas / OSM operation has relied too much on the services of consultants and experts. They know stuff, but the results tend to be, well, corporate and sterile. And don’t even start me on the ‘branding’ experts. I hope the check hasn’t cleared yet …”
Adam Bellow: “My reaction to the name change from Pajamas Media to OSM was one of deep dismay… OSM sounded suspiciously neutral and vaguely sinister, like the name of a Pentagon subcontractor. I also really disliked the Web site — from the corporate-looking logo to the top-down visual layout. The whole idea of a ‘top story’ struck me as very Old Media … Even the type is too small — something I still hope they will fix.”
And it goes on like that for 63 mind-numbing posts. Truth be told, there were some positive comments in there, but in trying to wade through what’s essentially an editorial meeting in blog format, one is left wondering if perhaps they might have tackled these grievances before they launched the site.
But hey, don’t get mad at us for criticizing the pretensions of the obviously confused blogger types who put the blog, or whatever it is, together. Fellow bloggers have been piling on as well.
Moxie has been going hard at Pajamas Media (OSM?) and the venture capitalists funding the site, writing that “They swindled millions [of dollars] for having nothing more than a domain name. I can’t add anything insightful to this mess. And yet I still feel like the topic is ripe for ridicule.
“It’s only a matter of time before a major paper picks up this big debacle, which puts all blogs in a bad light (involved or not).
“It’s time the blogosphere’s big failure to go the corporate, mainstream route hit the mainstream media. Question will be, who? The New York Times? The LA Times?
“Useless Web page, fancy launch party, 8 staff members and 70 prisoners? Seven million dollars. Scorned by the ones they scorn? Priceless.”
Jay Currie chimes in with one of the most thoughtful takes on the whole “blog as business” model Pajamas is trying to foster. The problem as he sees it is that the site “is relying on a revenue model which has jumped the proverbial shark. Web advertising works a bit,” but “the click through ad model requires you to leave the great content you are at a site to see. There has to be a better way.” But another problem is the roster of bloggers chosen to contribute to the site: “[T]he folks who were picked as the PJ media team had, to a greater or lesser degree, already made it. They are at the top of the rightish side of the blogosphere. Which means that none of them are particularly hungry…what would make more sense is to put together a tiger team of largely unknown bloggers to drive the site. There are lots of smart, right, writers who would be happy to pick up $150 for a 400-word post. I can think of half a dozen without trying. Around that core you build back to the bigger scheme.”