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The Power of Blogs

Someone on Slashdot pointed to this article on "Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality" by Clay Shirky. Very interesting stuff, and another indication (as if one were needed) of how blogs and similar interactive technologies are coming of age. I'm listing it here for further reference.

Shirky writes of "a small set of webloggers who account for a majority of the traffic in the weblog world". There's always a sense of innocence lost when these kinds of things happen (and Shirky traces this back at least to the WELL, but it goes much further than this) - whenever communities grow too large and diverse for everyone to have or want their say on any one topic of discussion, they branch off into subgroups, factions, etc. Perhaps in an ideal world we would prefer this not to be the case - but I would also note that perhaps I don't want to hear from everyone in my wider community all the time, and do want to have the voices of my friends appear more prominently than those of others. On the other hand, where this goes too far, we may see social fragmentation and isolation, of course.

I guess the point here is that online this "A-List" of webloggers isn't as powerful as it appears. Nobody is forced to read their blogs rather than someone else's. In specific interest communities, there is probably a completely different A-List. We're not dealing with 'push', broadcast media where the A-List is all there is because once it has been covered there's simply no more air time left for minority opinions. So, is there really a reason to lament the existence of a small number of high-profile blogs?