Saturday, March 31, 2007

Good Things Come In Small Packages

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I was quite taken with David Schraub's thoughts on B-list bloggers. I've never seen anyone address this issue before; being one myself, it was nice to see someone pointing out that midtier blogs are not necessarily A-list wannabes who just weren't good enough to make the cut:

It's tough being a small-to-middle-sized blogger. You streak after elusive crumbs from the big boys and girls, but never really can break to the top. That's not so bad--I don't think I'd want the stress of becoming a big time blogger. But I wish there was more horizontal linkage among the middle range. The way it seems to work is a hub and spoke system: Someone, large or small, picks up a story, eventually a big blog links to it (if they didn't initiate it themselves), and then a community of smaller blogs all chat about the story with reference to, at most, the originator and the big blog. However, it's rare to see the small-blog discussants trade links among themselves. Partially, that's because they can be tough to find--technorati is a hassle, and trackbacks seem to be falling out the vogue. But even still, it makes community building difficult, and has the effect of stopping the conversation at just a few disconnected voices.

There is an opportunity for the blogosphere to become a lot richer, not necessarily by expanding our blogrolls or RSS feeds, but by progressing organically from individual posts we find interesting to see all the range of commentary being forwarded on the subject. I think that the way to get the most out of the blogosphere isn't necessarily to rely on the gatekeepers at the top (as useful as they are), but to harness the power of the b-list--blogs that are not at the top but can be relied upon to provide top-notch commentary on their areas of interest and expertise. It takes a bit more effort, but if blogs which can move traffic start working on this, I think we can really change this medium for the better, both in terms of our own intellectual stimulation, as well as revitalizing the more egalitarian and meritocratic blogosphere instincts that have begun to wane of late.

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