week 5 nanopublishing



  • Nanopublishing is low-cost online publishing which uses techniques based on blogging (writing weblogs) to target a specific audience. (macmillandictionary.com, 2006)
  • The term was coined by Jeff Jarvis after seeing Nick Denton’s Gawker media.
  • Also known as “Thin Media.”
  • It is already prevalent, with almost everyone with internet access having their own blog now.
  • Popular blogsites include Livejournal, myspace and blogger.

Attempts to make money from blogs have met with limited success, but at the moment, any profit to be gained seems relatively small. The sheer volume of weblogs and journals, as well as all the different communities and e-zines mean that users can be too easily lured away. Perhaps the most well known nanopublishing businesses are Gawker Media and Weblogs, inc, the latter sold to AOL for a rumored 25 million dollars.

To be successful, a blog must be succinct, either entertaining or useful, and original. The best blogs are well written and edited, and information is well researched and correct. They must also seem credible, as the internet is notoriously fickle in this way.

Advantages of Nanopublishing

Worldwide audience

  • Able to reach a worldwide audience instantly. This cuts distribution costs.

Cost and time effective

  • It can be hosted for free, and the only thing you are contributing is your time
  • Less time is spent in the back-and forth process from publisher to writer than if it were done in person
  • Minimises waste in terms of paper, ink, distributing costs, etcetera

Up-to-the-minute journalism

  • Enables people to discuss events as they happen, whilst still relevant.
  • Tragedies like hurricane Katrina and the boxing day tsunami have seen widespread use of blogsites for aid and to warn others.

New writers

  • Writers no longer have to worry about getting the approval of publishing companies to write
  • Gives new writers a possible step up into the publishing or writing world
  • This has lead to a new phenomenon, known as the “blook”, or a book, based on a blog
  • USENET groups provide an avenue for new writers to share material and interact, giving each other feedback

Direct Interaction with Consumer

  • The ability to interact directly, and gain feedback from consumers straight away is something that no other form of publishing can offer
  • It allows for debate, exchange of ideas, a sort of communal editing process and straightforward opinions on the writing
  • Often more useful information and clarity on a topic can be found in the comments rather than the article itself

Major Problems to be Overcome


Accountability on weblogs is a big issue at the moment, being talked about on Contentious. Obviously newspapers and magazines can be held accountable for printed information, but can blogs?
The main issue here is people changing blogs or deleting entire posts when information becomes controversial or is incorrect.
Most people agree that changes to spelling, grammar and syntax are okay, but more major changes should be explained, if not left alone and simply corrected in another post.
Writers must remain responsible for their own published work, and take it as seriously as they would were it in print.


The very nature of the weblog, as a self-publishing tool anyone can use, makes it difficult to establish credibility for blogging as a professional publishing medium. The main problems are:
  • anyone with too much free time and not enough schooling can write whatever they like now, and potentially reach the same audience as a serious blog
  • There is a stigma attatched to blogging in general now
  • The creator straight to consumer process cuts out the all important editing stage

Low Revenue

Even Nick Denton of (Gawker Media) admits he never expects to make a lot of money from his business.
  • The only profit to be made is from advertising
  • Advertisers will only stay if traffic is sufficient.
  • You could begin charging people to read blogs, as some online journals and magazines do, but there is a general view that what is published on the internet should be for free, as addressed in the C-2-C book.
  • Weblogs are a “blind-spot” to mainstream journalism, so often the only way blogs are heard about is by being linked to from other sites

Weblogs and the internet in general have the potential to revolutionise the publishing industry. The technology already exists, it is simply a matter of utilising what is already available. It opens up new opportunities for writers, too, who seem more willing to embrace this medium than publishers do. But many problems have to be overcome before this can happen, so it will be a while until this technology is used as it is meant to be.


Baker, S. “The Internet & the Writer” Line Noiz June 12, 1994 http://www.etext.org/Zines/ASCII/Linenoiz/linenoiz-17.txt

Gahran, A. “Journalism’s Blind Spot” Contentious April 29, 2005 http://contentious.com/archives/2005/04/29/journalisms-blind-spot

Levy, Steven. “How Can I Sex Up This Blog Business?” Wired June 2004 http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.06/blog.html

Macmillan English Dictionary Resource Site http://www.macmillandictionary.com/New-Words/050207-nanopublishing.htm

Mahony, D. “How to Write a Better Blog.” A List Apart February 22, 2002 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writebetter/

Taylor, D “Why Bloggers Must be Historical Revisionists” http://www.intuitive.com/blog/why_bloggers_must_be_historical_revisionists.html