Pajamas Media finally took the sheet off their new name this week and became Open Source Media, which they describe as “a new blogging venture designed to bring together the internet’s brightest minds and most compelling content into a single source that will, in turn, complement and re-define journalism in the 21st century.” Pretty lofty goals I’d say. The weblog world is buzzing with thoughts about this new venture, and unfortunately for the company’s founders and investors, it’s mostly negative.
You Say Potato, I Say The Exact Same Thing-oh
At about the same time that Open Source Media launched their website and new company name, a radio show run by a non-profit organization wrote about how OSM usurped their pre-existing company name of, you guessed it, “Open Source Media, Inc.” Here’s a quote from Open Source Media (the original) that discusses their side:
Hm. A company that used to call itself Pajamas Media now calls itself Open Source Media, which is — scroll down to our legal notice — kind of exactly what we call ourselves. […] So what to do. A couple of blogs — Atrios, Stephen den Beste, Dennis the Peasant, Begging to Differ, Homocon — have picked up on this already, unprompted, perhaps because if you Google “open source media”, we’re the third result. Presumably the new “Open Source Media” Googled their new name before they settled on it?
Taking another company’s name seems pretty underhanded to me. Not very “open source” of them to do so either, considering open source is all about sharing and benefiting the greater whole.
Ann Althouse Dissects OSM Blogger Agreement
Back in July, when Open Source Media still had an original company name of Pajamas Media, they approached super A-List blogger Ann Althouse about doing a deal and joining the Pajama crew. Apparently Ann was sufficiently revolted by the terms of this deal that she not only turned Pajamas Media down, but then decided to rip apart the agreement point by point in the most public way she knows how — on her weblog. To get a gist for just what Open Source Media is trying to do, I highly recommend reading through the entire entry and the comments for it’s probably the most detailed look we’ll get into the company’s plan and insufficient offerings to bloggers. Here are some good quotes:
Let’s assume you’re a reasonably successful blogger who would like to make money from the writing you put into your blog. You currently have BlogAds, which advertisers buy by the week, month, or quarter. So you must continually attract new advertisers, but you are also always free to adjust your prices. […] Now, you’re presented with an offer from Pajamas Media, and to accept the offer, you will need to give up the top four slots in your sidebar, displacing BlogAds. You are offered a set price to sign on for a year (or 18 months). You will no longer have to worry about attracting new advertisers: the company has taken on the risk. They will find the advertisers and place the ads on your blog for you. You will no longer be able to reject ads, and the ads are likely to come from advertisers of bigger commercial products rather than the kind of products that have been using BlogAds.
[…] With Pajamas Media, they’ve promised to pay a set amount money, so you won’t have to worry about continually attracting advertisers. BlogAds will put pressure on you to continue to write the kind of blog that people will want to visit, but it lets you increase your income if your traffic increases and allows you to continue to control how your blog looks. With BlogAds, you’re an independent entrepreneur, with Pajamas, you’re more like an employee (with a one-year contract).
After her thoughts about Pajamas Media and how, if signing up for their services, she would make a great deal less than she currently does without any real rewards, she goes on to publish their offer letter which to me is pretty hilarious. They speak to Ann as if she’s a newbie at “making money with your blog” even though she’s a seasoned veteran; pretty disrespectful in my eyes. I won’t republish the letter here for it’s pretty long, but go check it out at Ann’s post.
Their Launch Event Confuses Everybody
Open Source Media nabbed $3.5M from investors, and with some of that money, they booked the Rainbow Room to host a gala event for advertisers and paid the infamous Judy Miller to speak and start the 4+ hour event off. Yeah, this Judy Miller! I’m not sure what connotations we can derive from the speaker choice, but I certainly wouldn’t have picked her in my top 50 list to launch my company.
Jeff Jarvis wrote about the launch as well, and he’s confused because they seemed to be pitching more towards the mainstream media and advertisers than the bloggers and blog readers who will justify their business model. Strange indeed. Stop the ACLU has a pretty thorough roundup of the launch thoughts as well.
Wrong Name For The Company?
Maybe I’m the only person who thinks this, but considering Open Source Media’s website does a really shitty job of explaining just what they’re trying to do in laymen’s terms, I have to assume that OSM is trying to capitalize on their bloggers’ content in order to bring in main-stream media advertising money, thus contradicting the very wording “open source” in their own company name. To me, open source is all about the sharing of information, benefiting the greater whole, and doing so in a very democratic way. Having open source in a company’s name would probably mean to outsiders that they embrace some sort of open source ideals in their company mantra, but I don’t see this as the case.