Walt Mossberg, the WSJ’s esteemed personal technology columnist, is falling behind in the conversation – at least the one occurring in the blogosphere. Below are relative mentions of “Mossberg” versus “Engadget” versus “Gizmodo” over the past six months (via BlogPulse, run by my company, Nielsen BuzzMetrics). Of course, Engadget and Gizmodo are two of the leading enthusiast blogs for personal technology and related gadgetry.
Not surprising, though still an interesting comparison, Mossberg also is behind in the conversation versus the more Web2.0/geeky TechCrunch.
Mossberg has earned tremendous authority and a stellar reputation during his tenure at the WSJ, and, to be fair, his mission and audience is not the same as that of Engadget, Gizmodo nor TechCrunch. However, I think Mossberg and his brethren need to figure out how to enter the conversation in order to keep relevant. In fact, I think being in the conversation will become a condition of survival for anyone seeking to make a living being an arbiter or disseminator of personal technology news. Broad reach or lingering stature by way of association with a big media brand (like the WSJ) will not be enough. If you had a tech news scoop, who would you tell first? The answer is not so clear anymore.
Conversely, if you wanted to research more about a news item, where would you go first? The answer is probably Google first, and then various information sources like all the ones discussed above, by way of Google. If you’re absent from the conversation, Google might overlook you. In some cases — increasingly rare — you might bypass Google because you’re a steady consumer of one source and just happened to discover what you might have been looking for at that particular source.
But personal technology is only among the first industries to be impacted by this conversation prerequisite. Other industries are being impacted similarly, and more will follow.