Are Blogs the New Pamphlet ?

Orwell Pamphlet
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“Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this circumstance with the most implicit confidence as the sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.” – Mark Twain

Since we live in a day and age where blogs are a booming avenue for aspiring artists of all kinds, a nagging thought has been bothering me. It’s a struggle that’s been sitting in the back burner of my mind for aeons.

Is blogging relinquishing the rights to your own material for the sake of gaining exposure ? Or is it a way to get noticed ?Blogger

It’s got to be a little bit of both. People sacrifice your rights for exposure. There are so many different publications out there that are accepting submissions from freelancers. Most of them are digital. In the olden days, people like Emile Zola, Balzac, and George Orwell would write political and literary pieces for publication and the recognition that would inevitably come with it.J'Accuse - Zola

Anyone with an internet connection can create content and post it online. There’s a difference between knowing how to blog well and knowing how to write stuff and click “publish”. Just because a hopeful blogger has hits, doesn’t mean they’ll turn into a blossoming book publisher. I used to think blogs were just channels for artistic noise, but now I see that without them, countless writers and photographers would go unnoticed. Photojournalism has gotten a huge boost from blogs; it’s an awesome phenomenon. Some of my favorites are Rania Khalek (social justice), Cristian Mihai (writing), and Ma Cuisine et Vous (French food porn).

Writers have the option of forgoing the harrowing publishing process and simply self-publishing via Amazon. Thought Catalog recently started putting out e-books. At $1.99 a pop, it’s no surprise that portable pdf files are a huge revenue booster for high-visibility blogs. They also give freelancers a chance to add a couple lines to their CV. It’s like in the HBO TV show ‘Girls’, when Hannah goes “You guys, I just wrote my first e-book !” (Sidenote : I don’t actually watch that show, I just turned it on when that line was being broadcast.)

Mark Twain’s quote rings true with all the artists hopping in to the blogosphere from every corner of this lonely planet. Before blogs, people wrote for pamphlets. All we can do is roll with the punches and learn how to navigate this complicated, virtual sphere.

What are your thoughts on blogging ? Is it a useful democratic tool, or a sneaky way to steal others’ content ?