A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my mother about trying to get into the weblogging business. How does one, as a newbie blogger try to win attention and links from the stars of the blogging scene?
Well my strategy was to contribute to the second tier bloggers, adding comments to discussions on Scoblizer and JD Lasica. These aren't the giants of blogging like DaveWiner or DocSearls but regularly get read and linked by them. In turn, attention, is trickling down from these most read of weblogs, into the discussion boards and through to the sites of the discussers.
"Goodness!", said my mother (OWTTE) "It's like the French court!"
And she's right, this is basically the patronage economy. The aim of the game is to attach yourself to, give contributions (presents) to, and try to win favour from, local dignitaries; who themselves are almost entirely uninterested in you except as far as they can use you to curry favour with the layer above them! Far from being egalitarian, the blogrolling community is revealed as a self-organized feudal system.
What went wrong? In a way, nothing. Hierarchy is a natural outcome of a self-organizing process. It grows out of two primitive qualities : inequality and locality. With space and reason to move, small players gravitate towards and orbit around big players, who in turn orbit around the galactic central king.
There are negative effects of such self-organized hierarchies :
Re-enforcement of inequality, to those who have more to offer up the system will receive more patronage down it. Does this matter? As we move towards a truer attention economy we may find that losing in the struggle for attention, translates into real poverty.
A potential increase in politicking and competition between bloggers who are rivals for patronage.
I hope we will be able to resist both. At the moment, rivalry hasn't appeared much as a feature of the blogging community. And it would be nice to think it could stay that way. Could another effect kick in to save us?
ClayShirkey on PowerLaws in Weblog attention (triggers http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html), triggers,) these discussions :
** The weblog them and weblog us discussion on PlasticBag : http://www.plasticbag.org/archives/2003/01/the_weblog_them_the_weblog_us.shtml