February 16, 2006
the magic middle
A groovy article in The Guardian about David Sifry and Technorati.
"This is one of those things that I think is fundamentally different about Technorati," compared to Google or Yahoo, he says, since it is based on "understanding people and understanding time" - not just on static links between web pages.
Meanwhile, in David's recent "State of the Blogosphere, Part 2",
he makes an interesting observation:
The Magic Middle is the 155,000 or so weblogs that have garnered between 20 and 1,000 inbound links. It is a realm of topical authority and significant posting and conversation within the blogosphere.
I happen to agree with that. The very top blogs [The "A-List"] will start collectively resembling old media more and more, as the money involved for doing so gets more significant. But the Magic Middle [call it the B-List, if you will] will be the realm of the global microbrand.
This is because the real story of blogging, the big story, is not about blog hierarchies and blog inequalities. The real story goes back [yet again] to something Clay Shirky said a while ago:
So forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this- the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast.[Nice follow up from Fernando Gros:]
It�s in this magic middle that we are seeing a breaking out of existing discoursive structures. It is here where the small church, the local educator, the niche business are able to find a new global market without depending up on the existing hierachies and gatekeepers. This is the really encouraging news for smaller bloggers. This is where the blogosphere is helping us break the tryanny of localism. This is the interesting news.
Posted by hugh macleod at February 16, 2006 9:32 AM
It is also where I would like to see us ask theological questions. Instead of being in thrall to power, to A-lists and to top -down hierachies, maybe we should start by looking at what is going on in this magic middle.
Agreed, as it all goes back to the risk / reward ratio. Not only do the bigger blogs have a bit more money at stake, but they also have a mindset of a "reputation" to uphold, just as the traditional media seems to think. What is missed is what got them there in the first place.
I've been following your analysis of the A-list and long tail with interest. Certainly amongst a number of blog-genres I follow, the A-list is mapping more and more closely the exisiting media structures (and in some cases simply re-inforcing existing publication streams). The solid B-list blogs seem to be where the global/local thing is being problemitised more readily.
The grump from the "not" A list isn't warranted but seems like penis envy for the most part to me. It's been interesting watching what all your links [Doc et al] have to say, and the games we've played with Robert and Brrreeport have been fun.
This blog thing isn't about income really [though would be A listers seem to behave as if it is] it's more about the ability to have that kind of reach, to earn it from our own thoughts, to be awarded value eventually from the integrity we bring to the world through the medium of the blog.
If we really have something worthwhile to say, it will find a market, it's all possible. And as search improves, it will get found.
It's the long tail all over again, but the thing we sometimes forget is that tied to the long tail is Time, and we're often too impatient to wait.
20-1000 inbound links is a pretty wide middle but it is nice that it is broad enough to include me at the bottom of the low end.
My guess is that that is pretty much a minimum size for any blog which is going to be sustainable. Already I've seen a number of smaller blogs in my area fade and disappear. Having some sort of critical mass reading and supporting your blog is a strong motivating factor for most writers. The other motivating factor is money and that is what is necessary to sustain the mega-blogs.
And of course motivating factor number 3 is that it is fun. Everything that I write on my blog could have been set down on my website (and in fact, the best postings are probably things I rehashed from that site), but the fun value is not high enough for me to bother editing the HTML. With a few clicks in blogging software I can put even the most stupid thought into global circulation.
Whether this is enough to cause a global renaissance remains to be seen, but I'm not seeing much difference in quality between novels written on word processors and those scrawled out on blank sheets of paper.
Note to 9fish, your words were so um... I'm not sure. "Awarded value eventually from the integrity we bring to the world through the medium of the blog" Can you tell me what that means? If it is not money you are getting in the market, what are you awarded with? A bigger pen*s? In my world integrity is its own reward and I don't need a blog to have it. Forgive me. Maybe I just don't get it.
Jack, you're right. I'm wishy washy.
I'm not chasing money, but I'm getting it on the way just the same. Though if I chased it harder maybe it would come in quicker. :-)
And in my world integrity is it's own reward to, but I'm hacked off with the grumbling that comes from the would be A listers that they aren't recognised. My answer is do something worth recognising rather than emulating other success. That when we find our own voice, the world will listen if it's worthwhile; unfortunately (and this hasn't changed with the new web) the world decides what's interesting to them, even when we're I'm sure it's vital that the world listens to my thoughts out loud.
Thanks for this post and the links. Brings hope for those of us somewhat short on inbounds.
Blogging for some of us (well, at least for me) is about the (eternal?) struggle to write which goes (for me) to finding the heart of what to write. The difference with blogging compared to journaling is I'm writing to an audience (be it one or a thousand) and I weigh my words differently and lay down rules (no blogging about the day job). Damn. I love it (at least for today I love it).