Posted on | April 27, 2013 | 32 Comments
In congratulating the Overlawyered blog on moving under the Cato Institute umbrella, Professor Bainbridge used the phrase “take the Boeing,” which in turn prompted Glenn Reynolds to flashbacks on the origins of that phrase in the misty dawn of the blogospheric age when the commercial value of the medium was scarcely understood. And, of course, the adaptation/imitation of the medium by major commercial operations has limited the readership space of the original blogosphere — i.e., individual online writer/commentators connected in informal networks or communities of sites.
This network/community concept seems to have been lost by (or, more likely, was never known to) newer arrivals in the ‘sphere. The idea that each of us is contributing to a common project is not just some kind of “Stone Soup” idealism, but is in fact the only way to build any genuinely meaningful alternative to that pathetic exercise in groupthink we call the Mainstream Media. Bloggers who don’t help build the alternative can complain about the MSM “borg” all they want; they aren’t really making a difference. There are two ways in which bloggers actually help sabotage the blogosphere:
- Turn your blog into a series of lectures. “Here, let me tell you How to Save the World, because you pitiful mortals are obviously in need of my Superior Wisdom.” It’s one thing to go off on the occasional rant, but if that’s all your blog is about — sermons and lectures, as if you are the Oracle to whom readers turn in need of your delphic prophecies — then you’re doing the wrong thing. No one wants to read that crap.
- Never link another blogger. It’s weird that some bloggers would rather link a story in the New York Times or the Washington Post than to link a fellow blogger. Why this is, I don’t know. Sometimes it seems like everybody has the same idea: Grab an MSM headline off Drudge, link it, include a brief blockquote and add some political snark. Not only does this effectively surrender content control to Drudge — so that bloggers are merely replicating the headline selection there — but nobody’s snark ever goes beyond their own readership, because no blogger ever quotes another blogger.
Ace of Spades once did a mini-rant — which I can’t find now — about whether your site is a portal or a destination. That is to say, is the reader coming to your site to find links to interesting material (portal) or strictly to read what you have to say (destination)?
The problem is that if every blogger starts thinking of his own site as a destination, then the site’s value as a portal — directing readers to interesting material elsewhere — is necessarily diminished or eliminated. And if this destination mentality takes hold at all the larger sites, then there will be few opportunities for new bloggers to join the community, and fewer incentives for smaller bloggers to participate in the conversation, because nobody with any significant readership will ever link them. What will eventually happen, in such a scenario, is that the independent blogosphere will wither and die from neglect, and be replaced by a corporate simulacrum.
Which is already happening, to an extent. This was what John Hawkins was talking about two years ago as “The Slow, Painful Coming Death Of The Independent, Conservative Blogosphere” (with sequels here and here). Despite the fact that there have been notable successes in recent years — e.g., William Jacobson’s Legal Insurrection has not only succeeded, but has produced a promising spinoff, College Insurrection — the fact is that the original idea of the blogosphere as an informal network of independent sites is being lost, not because independent bloggers are “taking the Boeing,” but because so many newer arrivals in the ‘sphere never even bothered with the concept of collaboration.
Well, this kind of rant could go on forever, but you didn’t come here for my delphic prophecies, eh?
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! And, in case you didn’t realize it, the Instawife has a new book out entitled, Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream — and Why It Matters, and which you should buy because if it becomes a bestseller, that’s one less spot available for a liberal book on the New York Times bestseller list.
Sometimes, life really is a zero-sum equation . . .