TIME OUT FOR A LITTLE INSIDE BASEBALL on why this blogging medium is becoming inbred faster than the Snokes siblings up in Skunk Hollow.
While scanning, and I do mean "scanning," the comments to Jeff Goldstein's Why Rhetoric Matters @ protein wisdom, I happened on this very telling exchange:
I sent the link along with the story to Instapundit, but he evidently didn't think it was as important as you and I. Or maybe he did and just hasn't gotten to it....This bit of blogger hope, despair and redemption illustrates the axiom, "If you're not the lead sled dog the view is always the same." It also illustrates the tendency of a new medium to become what it beholds -- the old media.
Posted by Jeff Goldstein on 07/24 at 02:43 PM
I sent the link along with the story to Instapundit, but he evidently didn't think it was as important as you and I.
Uh, Jeff? I came here off an Instapundit link to the story....
Posted by Richard R on 07/24 at 03:25 PM
You've been Instalanched, so I guess Glenn agrees.
Posted by TallDave
For quite some time now it has been glaringly obvious that, with few exceptions, blogs gargantuan and teeny-weeny are in fact a collection of footnotes and corrections tag-teamed onto print, radio, television and other blogs. The main roles that most blogs play are to act as pointers to the stories-du-jour thrown up by mass media, or a hacking or fine honed carping at the prime-time players.
In this posture blogging underscores daily that it is not yet ready for the prime-time itself. In the main, this has to do with 4 factors: 1) The extreme youth of the medium measured against the other three; 2) The extent of blogs penetration of the mass market which is, to say the least, scant at best; 3) The sheer weight of millions of
"blog-channels" from which to choose or even find; 4) The lack of resources, staff and talent (funds, foot-soldiers, finesse) that it takes to pursue and report stories on a wide range of issues on a daily basis.
There are, of course, exceptions to this situation [Pace Rathergate, Easongate, and others... Pace those blogs, few, doing original reporting.... Pace all the others you can think of and I can't.... ]. Give me millions of anything and I'll always find you a few exceptions. The tag-team nature of blogs is most evident at those sites that track this sort of thing,memeorandum: A newfangled news tangle being a sterling example. Still, the point of this particular comment is to note that blogging, for all its "independence" is growing increasingly more co-dependent on a few favored blogs as exemplified above. Not a new observation to be sure, but even I was unprepared for the present extent of this phenomenon. Whether or not it presages transmogrification or ossification is presently unknown.
For those tilting to the Right, Instapundit is the link-farm of choice and hope, and one with which to curry favor. Daily Kos or some such is the one for those tilting Left I imagine, I really couldn't say for sure. Of course, most bloggers seeking an Instalink would be the first to assert "I am not a link-whore, I am an independent voice." True, but equally true is the fact that a blogger who is indifferent to his traffic is either a dead blogger or writing for his mom. Most are highly fascinated by their internal visitor logs, and equally dubious about Site Meter's since it is invariably a smaller number. Bloggers are, after all, writers and a writer needs one distinct thing to make him a writer; a reader.
"The more readers one has, the better a writer one is." So says the voice of the little Satan that sits at the center of all our scribbling egos. We know, we really know that's not true. We see the proof of it daily in newspapers, in bookstores, and on that little Blogger page about some post-operative transsexual's shoe cravings that we never, ever read, except sometimes late at night when everybody else is sleeping and we clear the history right afterwards.
But most of the time, we don't care if anyone is reading us, right? Right. We are in it only for the keystrokes. Absolutamente! So what do we care if Insta or Kos links us? We don't. Don't care at all. Couldn't care less. Honest.
But of course, we care very, very much and that's why more and more this blogging thing is evolving towards the same gatekeeper model of the mainstream media. The MSM takes its news, by and large, from what the New York Times decides is news. A bad model to say the least. But as above, so below. Here we are again, becoming what we behold.
Note the wistful concern over the mood of, or the work load of, Instapundit in the excerpt above -- " ... didn't think it was as important as you and I. Or maybe he did and just hasn't gotten to it...."
I like and admire Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. (Let me say that again: I like and admire Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.) (Just to be sure, let me reiterate: I like and admire Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.) Swell guy. Incisive legal mind. Rapier wit. Staunch Libertarian and Great Humanitarian. Inspiring teacher. Amazing photographer (digital). Devoted husband. Hardest working man in the Blogsphere -- next to, of course, Mickey 25-Words-A-Day Kaus. Why if Montaigne had not lived, Reynolds would have invented the essay at the same time he invented the "UPDATE:"
(There, now that that's out of the way could somebody excerpt that paragraph and send it along to Glenn for a link, he doesn't answer my emails anymore, especially that one offering cash in large quantities to get on his blogroll. Thanks.)
I can't imagine the email stack of "really-important-must-tell-everyone" links that shows up in whatever bit-bucket pundit@instapundit auto-deletes into, but it has to be one that sucks up more bandwidth in a hour than I use in a month. Michael Totten took over a part of running Instapundit for a few days in the last year and reported that he was gobstopped by the email flow, so I'll take him at his word.
By and large, I find the items at the Instapundit linkfarm to be up to the minute on whatever Story-du-jour is driving the mainstream medium in any particular news cycle. At the same time, I don't find the links pointed to as eclectic as they once were. That's understandable. I too have my favored sources and blogs that I consider of value, but what I like doesn't matter. What Instapundit likes does. And this has large consequences for the present and the future of this medium. At least for the present.
What Instapundit fills for the moment is the problem of acquisition and distribution of information and opinion. It is not a bad thing that, over time, certain favorites get more pointers. Reynolds is not blind to this situation. He's addressed it on several occasions and I'm sure it is of some concern. Still, there's a limit.
There's a limit to what one mind can assimilate and it is an old truth that "an agreeable person is a person that agrees with me." I know, in general, what pointers and opinions I'm going to find at Instapundit, and it suits me. May not suit you, but there are other gatekeepers and I'm sure you've found yours. Still, I have to admit I liked Instapundit better when there was more serendipity and less uniformity. But that always happens as a writer and a medium matures.
It was once thought that one of the best things about this medium was that it routed around the gatekeepers in the mainstream media. And it did. It did it so well that it evolved gatekeepers of its own. Human, all too human. It would seem that we are not, in the final analysis, prisoners of our media, but prisoners of ourselves. And, as usual, we hand the keys over to someone else.
Is this a "bad thing?" Probably not. Somewhere somebody, some kid, is figuring out how to pick the locks that have been fastened far too soon on this medium. To paraphrase some SF writer, "There's a hell of a nice universe next door. Let's go."Posted by Vanderleun at July 28, 2005 9:58 AM | TrackBack