The blogosphere as high school, part XVII

by Mathew on March 30, 2008 · 21 comments

My friend Mark Evans has a post about the lack of original thought in the blogosphere — or at least the pressures that tend to keep original thought from appearing — and as the closest thing to what MG Siegler calls a “bitchmeme” this weekend, it has grabbed a bunch of links. Dave Winer sees this as a sign that the end is near, and says he’s heading for the hills (we should all be so lucky), and lots of others have chimed in that Ed Bott was right and Techmeme is an “echo chamber” with no value whatsoever.

I know the “conversation” metaphor has kind of been beaten to death, and I apologize in advance for trotting it out again, but I think it’s the best one we have. To some, the clusters of “me-too” posts are a sign that there is no value in Techmeme.com — to which I would respond that value is where you find it. Yes, there are a lot of people posting things that just repeat what someone else said. But at the same time, there are also new bloggers coming along all the time who do add value.

In that sense, Techmeme (and the blogosphere in general) is a lot like a party or a crowd gathered at a bar. Some times there are people who are either boring, or have nothing of real value to say, or who are drunk and disorderly, or curmudgeons who sit off in a corner muttering to themselves and shouting from time to time. Does that mean you leave the party? Maybe. But you could be missing out on some great conversations, or meeting some interesting people.

Guys like Dave talk about how it’s all the insiders and the rest are hangers-on, and all that reminds me of is kids in high school, complaining about how they’re not in this or that clique, or how so-and-so always hangs out with the jocks or the geeks instead of them. The blogosphere is the closest thing I can think of to a meritocracy, and I would argue that for the most part Techmeme is as well — yes, there are cliques, but if you write a good post, it can hit the top and get links just like anyone else’s can. No one cares whether you’re tall or thin or pretty or athletic.

As I’ve mentioned before, in the clusters of me-too posts and bitchmemes and so on at Techmeme, I have found great bloggers like Frederic from The Last Podcast, MG Siegler from ParisLemon (and now of VentureBeat), Steven Hodson of Winextra.com, Jason Kaneshiro of Webomatica and others. Did I have to do some digging through useless echo-chamber posts? Yes. But that’s what some conversations are like. I’m not ready to give up on the whole party, that’s for sure.

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