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As digital dollars grow, b-to-b publishers debate impact of blogs

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Boca Raton, Fla.—To blog or not to blog? And how can you make money if you do? Those were among the questions discussed by speakers at two consecutive sessions on digital media at American Business Media's Spring Meeting on Tuesday morning.

The "blogosphere" throws all sorts of old patterns into disarray, said keynoter Robert Metcalfe, a partner at Polaris Venture Partners. As an engineer at Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto Research Center in 1973, Metcalfe invented Ethernet, and 20 years later served as a publisher, columnist and CEO at IDG's InfoWorld and InfoWorld Publishing Co.

Noting there are currently 10 million blogs worldwide, a number that is predicted to double in five months, Metcalfe stressed the technology—and its impact on publishing—was still playing out and will be evolving for a long time. Specifically he said to watch for developments in the delivery of blogs to mobile devices, as well as the emergence of video blogs and new search mechanisms for blogged content.

Editors, Metcalfe added, are an asset when it comes to blogs, but it’s not at all clear how to monetize those assets, a reprise heard over and over at the spring meeting when discussions turned to blogging and its revenue potential for publishers.

Jim Spanfeller, president-CEO of Forbes.com, said, "I think blogs are an important environmental change on the Web, but I don't know if it will be as disruptive as some people think for publishers." Forbes.com is "trying to endear ourselves to the blogging community with the creation of a blog on blogs," he added.

—Marie Griffin and Ellis Booker

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