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Friday, October 27, 2006

Kids as content...I learned about mommyblogging...

Today I learned a little bit about mommyblogging and I can't say that I was really impressed with at least one segment of the scene.

I have this habit of checking Technorati throughout the day to see what's on the "popular" list. It's a good way to stay "plugged in" with respect to breaking news of interest to those (like me) who make a living online.

Today, I noticed "Sweetney" was in the top ten. I recognized/understood the other hot topics, but the term "Sweetney" was new to me. I investigated.

Sweetney is a mom who blogs about her kid(s). Unless your kid happens to be an elitist attending an upper echelon junior college in Singapore like the current #1 Technorati champ, Wee Shu Min, it's hard to really imagine what would be so incredibly interesting about the child to vault a blog up into Friday's "red hot" list.

As it turns out, the kid really isn't at issue. Well, sort of. Apparently, someone who is sick and tired of the mommyblogging scene decided to photoshop a picture of the blogger's kid and then made a comparison of the child's physical attributes with someone who suffers from a particular medical condition. They then posted the photo on a blog which seems to primarily exist for the sake of mocking mommy blogs.

Anyway, the mom/blogger is up in arms over the whole thing and it turns out that another mother/blogger who has a site focused on the raising of her child has been stung by the same mean person. "Amalah" saw her little girl photoshopped so as to appear to be holding something that most of us would prefer not to hold in order to imply that the chocolate all over her face may have been something else.

Yeah, this little foray into new parts of the web wasn't necessarily akin to reading Proust or debating Noam Chomsky on linguistics or anything.

So, you have some jerk out there mocking these poor mommybloggers, stealing pictures of their precious little ones, and manipulating the photos hatefully. Observation: The attack blogger is a dope.

However, within all of that mean-spirited nastiness lurked a little kernel of truth. No, the kid wasn't really eating you-know-what. The surrounding attacks on the act of mommyblogging, however, did have some resonance. There is, apparently, a relatively large population of so-called mommybloggers. I would say "parentbloggers," because some of them are men, but it seems as though "mommyblogger" is the more common handle. These people drive a fair amount of traffic to their parenting blogs and use those same blogs as a means of generating some extra income. You know, Adsense, affiliate links, hyping their own online moneymaking endeavors, etc.

The kids are content (note, I mean "content" as a noun, not an adjective). Pictures of cuties with chocolate on their faces. Pictures of toddlers doing those cute things toddlers do. Stories about the latest funny thing to come out of the little angel's mouth, etc. People are coming for the kid pictures and the kid stories and the mommybloggers are at least trying to make some money off of the whole thing.

I am not one to begrudge pursuit of profits. I have no issue with the monetization of blogs. I think it's nifty if a stay-at-home parent wants to find a way to try to generate some extra income. All of that is AOK.

However, converting your children into traffic bait in the hopes that it will make some money is a little creepy. Okay, it's a lot creepy. So, although I think the nonsense with the manipulated photos was a little over the line (though not the Sign of the Impending Apocolypse many within the blogosphere seem to think it is), that jerk who likes to do mean-spirited things with pictures does have a legitimate argument against for-profit mommyblogging in some of his/her posts.

Lessons learned: Kids are content for some people. Mommyblogging is more pervasive than I would have thought. Some people really are obnoxious. Some other people are obnoxious, too, just not as obviously so.

Oh, and don't think I'm like totally against blogging about your kids. However, if you are pimping out your kids' cuteness in exchange for nickel Adsense clicks, it is a little unsavory. My wife and I have a blog with pictures of our little girl (who, in my humble parental opinion is cuter than any of the kids I saw during my march through mommyblog land), but it's not public. We give the URL to people we know, trust and who care about our family.

If you want to use contextual advertising and blogging to put money in the family coffers, you might want to find a way to do it without involving and/or exploiting your kid, I guess. Maybe I'm wrong, but it just doesn't seem right to me. It also, as illustrated today in mommyblog land, runs the risk of some real nastiness.

Kids aren't commercial content.

EDIT: According to comments on this thread, I am confused about Amahla's role in all of this. Guess it shows that I'm not an "insider." Apologies for the error.