The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘A Communicational Schematic That Is Superior to Anything Else in Existence’

Posted on | December 6, 2010 | 14 Comments

On April 7, 2002, a university professor in Tennessee posted this:

I keep hearing from people that they started a weblog because of InstaPundit. About a month ago, I asked everyone who did so to email me. I got so many that it took me a while to find the time — and energy — to compile them into a list.

You can go look at that list, which includes such well-known names in the blogosphere as Stephen Green, Ed Driscoll and (believe it or not) Matthew Yglesias. The list of Instapundit-inspired blogs was subsequently collected by Jeff Wolfe with hotlink URLs and an addendum.

What is interesting, in looking at all those blogs, is how many of them have faded into oblivion, even as blogs that started much later — including this one, which became a full-time project in March 2008 — have endured and flourished.

Blogs come and go, but Instapundit still dominates. Imitated, but never excelled. And while that success continues to inspire emulation, it also excites envy. (Such are the perils of success.) Who is this guy, whose mere “heh” can mean so much? Why should his enigmatic interests, his particular likes and dislikes, have such overwhelming influence in Blogland?

You see similar reactions all the time. Why is it that Rush Limbaugh gets bashed by David Frum? Why does Sarah Palin get bashed by . . . well, damned near everybody? They are successful and influential, and those who are less successful and influential resent their success.

When I played rock-and-roll, I often encountered musicians who would disparage any really popular group: “Oh, they’re so commercial.” And my reaction would be, “What? They sold a lot of records? They’re popular? Don’t you want to sell a lot of records, too? Isn’t that kind of the point of making records, to sell them?” Their response to such common-sense arguments varied, but they were insistent that they didn’t want to be like any “commercial” group.

They were snobs, is what they were, and their oh-so-serious commitment to playing “serious” music never got any of them anywhere. (OK, that’s wrong: Some of them ended up in prison, but anyway . . .)

We here on the Internet stand on the shoulders of giants and, to this day, there is nothing to compare to the Drudge Report. Bloggers used to complain (and some still do) that Drudge never links bloggers, but in point of fact, many sites don’t have the server capacity to handle the traffic that a headline link from Drudge generates. Ask anyone who’s ever experienced the server-melting intensity of a Drudge link. Earlier this year, for example, a Drudge link crashed the servers at

Huffington Post famously began as a liberal counterpart to the Drudge Report, and was designed with the help of Drudge’s friend Andrew Breitbart. Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller was originally pitched as the “HuffPo of the Right.” Red State, it might be said, started as a GOP alternative to Daily Kos. And so you see how this process of emulation and competition continues endlessly.

Sunday evening, I was having some fun at the expense of Barrett Brown, who made a 12-minute video attempting to explain his idea of “erudite” people developing “a communicational schematic that is superior to anything else in existence” — for example, superior to Memeorandum, which is clearly inferior because it sometimes features Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit and, according to Brown, Hoft is “obviously an idiot.”

Yeah, Barrett, but Hoft’s got traffic, which is kind of the name of the game. How is it that idiots like Jim Hoft generate traffic, while the staggering genius of Barrett Brown doesn’t? Is it possible that you’re not as smart as you think you are? (Just suggestiing a possibility. I’m pretty sure it’s not actionable defamation to suggest a possibility.)

My mockery of Brown’s overweening hubris got linked at 10:05 p.m Sunday by Instapundit and an hour later he linked my post about Helen Thomas, and this is what the result looked like on SiteMeter:

That’s 5,610 visits in slightly less than two hours on a Sunday night, when I had been averaging a mere 250 or so visits per hour prior to the (extremely rare) double Instalanche.

Well . . . Rule 2: That enormous tsunami of traffic bled over, to some degree, onto every other site linked on the sidebars of the blog. I’d guess it meant a lot of traffic for Republican Redefined, occupying the FMJRA spot.

Rule 2 of “How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog” humorously describes a virtuous circle effect, a concept for building a blogospheric network through collaboration and reciprocity. This was the “Underpants Gnome” theory, developed ad hoc, through a process of trial-and-error, with the certain knowledge that I could write the most brilliant stuff in the world and it wouldn’t mean anything if nobody ever read it. And nobody would ever read it, if nobody ever linked my blog.

My friend — wait, would it be libelous if I called him my colleague? — Dan Riehl thinks this whole Rule 2 thing is kind of silly, but of course he was one of the first major bloggers who ever linked here, so he has earned the right to call me silly. And few things are sillier than blogging about blogging or, as it has been called, meta-blogging.

People don’t give a rat’s ass about bloggers. So nobody wants to watch a video of a blogger staring into a camera and explaining what a genius blogging idea he’s got, especially if that blogger hasn’t exactly demonstrated any particular knack for success in the blogosphere.

Here, let me show you the three most popular videos I’ve ever posted on YouTube, with a combined total of more than 40,000 views:

Allen West, Scott Brown and John Boehner. It’s not about me, you see? Rather than trying to puff yourself up, or trying to tear other people down, you’ll generally have a lot more success in the blogosphere (and in life) if you can get over your childish ego-games and try to contribute something useful toward the common good.

And as for callow punks bragging about how they’re going to “develop a communicational schematic that is superior to anything else in existence” — anybody who thinks Barrett Brown is going to develop something superior to Instapundit is nucking futz.

BTW, there was a certain post Ace of Spades once wrote about the silly idea of being “famous on the blogsophere.” As I recall, his point was that if you ever get really famous, it ain’t going to be because of how awesome your blogging is. Maybe you’re a blogger and you’ve got nice tits, and somehow you’ll become tit-famous, but it ain’t blogging that does it.

So I searched for that post and couldn’t find it, but I did find a memorable AOSHQ beatdown that included this:

You little, whiny, crazy-ass meglomaniacal-without-a-blessed-reason-to-justify-it bitch.

Yeah. What he said. And why doesn’t Insty link Ace more often? Because if I was Instapundit, I would link Ace probably two or three times a day. Then again, maybe that’s why I’m not Instapundit.


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