July 5, 2007

the time of the a-list is dead. thank christ. not a moment too soon.

scoblethis.jpg

From Robert Scoble:

One trend that bloggers don’t want to talk about? A number of my blogging friends have seen their traffic go down lately. They assume that their readers are off in social networks. I think they are absolutely right.
For once I disagree with Robert. I DO want to talk about it. Because I actually concur with Robert's thesis. And I am utterly delighted to do so.

In the past, say, from the late 'nineties until the last six-twelve months or so, Bloggers' readership grew IN PROPORTION to the social networks that were built up around them. Hence the phenomenon of the "A-List".

But if we're honest, looking back, it was always these circumventing social networks that were the really interesting part of the equation. The actual blogger in question, less so. Even if in our celebrity-worshiping culture, we sometimes forgot that.

Then suddenly, along comes stuff like Twitter and Facebook... et Voila! Suddenly, social networks start being successfully created without the "A-Listers" having to act like "Hubs" [or "Human Social Objects", if you want to get REALLY technical]. Suddenly, the need for A-listers to arbitrate "Who the Cool Kids are" [and who they aren't] is rapidly and thankfully diminished.

I totally applaud this development. Whatever your blogging strategy may be, I personally believe that on average, you're far better off going off to somewhere like Facebook and building your own social network with like-minded folk, based on your own collective interests, your own collective passions and own collective sense of merit, than loitering around the Blogopshere, waiting for some rockstar like Scoble, Arrington, Cory etc to link to you... and hoping in vain that the latter will somehow transform your life. It won't. Just ask my blog buddies, Kent Newsome or Seth Finkelstein, who always have a sharp and and insightful word to say on the matter.

The time of the A-List is dead. Thank Christ. Not a moment too soon.

[UPDATE:] Lovely afterthought from Rex Hammock:

When you set up a Facebook account, you’re not weighted down with the responsibility of being a publisher or writer or pundit or whatever it is that keeps most people from setting up a blog. On Facebook, you’re not a Facebooker — you’re just you. You can connect with people based on something other than linking to what that person just observed...
[Bonus Link:] An utterly BRILLIANT post for the 4th of July: The aforementioned Kent Newsome's "Declaration of Blogging Independance.". Ha!


Posted by hugh macleod at July 5, 2007 12:27 AM | TrackBack
Comments

(Moves to the corner, tries to cover up the quivering lip.)

Posted by: Blogebrity at July 5, 2007 1:38 AM

Additional twist: import your blog RSS feed into Facebook. ;)

Posted by: Krupo at July 5, 2007 1:38 AM

Thanks for the link and nice words. Notes:

0) Small correction - "Seth FinkELstein"

1) That's a correlation/causation fallacy on the face of it

2) "A number of my blogging friends have seen their traffic go down lately" - Ask: Who? When? How Much? - before theorizing.

3) What stops there from being a Facebook A-list?

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at July 5, 2007 1:45 AM

I disagree. The long tail idea may be right, selling less and less or more and more, but there will always be blockbusters and A-Listers, even if they aren't as big and don't last as long. Fad and fashion. But I agree that it's most personally satisfying to follow your own collective interests, your own collective passions and own collective sense of merit.

Posted by: Bill Olen at July 5, 2007 1:49 AM

Another reason for traffic going down is the increasing use of RSS readers. You actually have to say something interesting to pull a reader to the site itself; if you're just generating noise, the RSS feed will likely show it.

Posted by: Maggie Leber at July 5, 2007 1:59 AM

The A-List doesn't put themselves on it, the people do.

Do we have a need for heroes? I think we do, and it will exist in every space that people can exist in.

Posted by: Eric Rice at July 5, 2007 2:03 AM

Your blog inspires me because of your individuality, as well as your leadership. Your links to other people of individual thought has broadened my perspective on many things.

In regard to like-minded groups, I think there are loads of good people who share "like-mindedness" in different blog communities. But for me, I seek out a diversity in many (many)areas. There is just so much out there to learn.

Your blog has been a renaissance of information to me. ---Thank you!

PS I never added my url because my attempts at blogging are stumbling sentences at best. I am learning.




Posted by: RKR at July 5, 2007 3:00 AM

Geesh, who cares? You guys think about think about this stuff way too much.

Posted by: Rick at July 5, 2007 3:22 AM

death to the a list? Well in two weeks I have gotten 2000 friends on facebook and 600 on pownce.

Posted by: Robert Scoble at July 5, 2007 3:41 AM

Oh, I'm sure the need to commune with the Scobleizer on a mass scale will still be with us for a long time to come, Robert. And rightly so.

But there are new things happening on a much smaller scale which I am also finding VERY interesting ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at July 5, 2007 3:48 AM

my own thoughts on the matter, posted some time ago. perhaps relevant here?

http://www.philgomes.com/blog/2006/02/why-i-hate-a-list-mentality.htm

Posted by: Phil Gomes at July 5, 2007 4:33 AM

Blogging has stimulated my creativity and connected me to some very interesting people who I wouldn't have had access to without the assistance of personal publishing.

I know the A-list discussion is significant and worth discussing vs. ignoring. But it does sometimes detract from the true benefits of being an active participant in social media vs. a passive bystander. To reap these benefits—one must participate. The good news is that now, there are many other ways to do this vs. blogging alone.

Posted by: David Armano at July 5, 2007 5:21 AM

Me too, truth be told. Twitter is awesome cause it lets everyone listen in on the weirdest conversations.

Oh, and wait until you discover Kyte.tv.

It's small scale video on a grand scale.

Posted by: Robert Scoble at July 5, 2007 6:28 AM

What's also funny is that this quote actually came from several bloggers in my circle who aren't A listers, but rather B or C listers.

Those who are really on top of the A list are gaining readers. My readership has more than doubled in the past year.

Posted by: Robert Scoble at July 5, 2007 6:32 AM

Totally with you on this one Hugh. I think you're on to something.

Pay no attention to that Big Ego behind the curtain...

Posted by: Robert Sanzalone at July 5, 2007 7:12 AM

The A-list is dead the A-List is dead cried chicken little. I'll believe it when I see that TechCrunch GapingVoid and Scobleizer are no longer on the web but ONLY in Facebook.

The one way data in locked silo known as Facebook is this years new playground. Spock, Jaiku or something will come along and replace it using a combination of Atom Publishing Protocol and OpenSearch but that is another conversation about dynamic aggregation.

What we are seeing is the replacement of the blog as the only two way mass medium with multiple others.

In the last six months I have had more friends invites from people on twitter, facebook, linkedin, jaiku, pownce and several others.

Robert is spot on in saying that he now has multiple ways for his audience/followers to keep upto date.

There is the full meal 45mins + scoble show, the light lunch scobelizer blog, the quick snacks on his kyte.tv and twitter etc.

The human A(ggregators)-list will live on as they are consistently passionate about this webspace.

The place may change but the people remain the same for now.

Posted by: Sam Sethi at July 5, 2007 7:52 AM

With all due respect to the "A listers" it's now clear to me they wield power that is not in proportion to their wisdom. Due to search routines that value old and abundant links.

This is hazardous to the rest of us getting high quality, good info.

Let the revolution BEGIN! Start replacing A-list bloggers on your blogroll with superior but lower listed bloggers.

Posted by: Joe Duck at July 5, 2007 7:57 AM

I have been saying that blogging in its current format with its 'fad' status will end. What I did not see was the likes of Facebook and MySpace replacing it.

But I still see 'fadism' in Facebook and all the other gathering posts of its ilk.

Yesterday Weblogblog was the in thing. Where is it now? Surpassed by Facebook. But when will Facebook's day come to be replaced?

Facebok will be yesterday's news soon. FIt is afterall just another one of those old and long forgotten forums with a new face on it.

There is little point to overintellectualising this 'new' phenomenon. It is old stuff.

I say carry on blogging. Blogging at minimum allows you stand out as an invdividual, motivates your creative streams and does not let you fade into obscurity as part of a crowd of beige fad followers.

I say "right on" to Bill Olen, Erik Rice and especially to RKR who hopefully will oneday let us all know the site address. Can't wait.

Bloggers first and foremost and always!

Posted by: The Bruce at July 5, 2007 8:10 AM

Smaller scale... micro trends... micro brands. The avant garde always migrates to the middle freeing space for the next wave of fringe innovation.

Posted by: Clive BIrnie at July 5, 2007 9:03 AM

Thursday, July 5, 2007 - 3.0.019

Stupid Is -- As Stupid Does - Part XIX

Remember, in my world there are no stupid people, only human beings -- which means that we are each capable of saying and doing some very marvelous things in addition to some very stupid ones. The object is to increase the former at the expense of the latter.

Hugh Macleod seems to think that "The Time of the A-List is Dead" -- FAT CHANCE!!!

Hugh makes some interesting and pertinent observations -- and completely misses the key ingredient in the situation. Hugh writes:

"In the past, say, from the late 'nineties until the last six-twelve months or so, Bloggers' readership grew IN PROPORTION to the social networks that were built up around them, Hence the phenomenon of the A-List."

No, Hugh, the A-List was a result of developing an exclusionary rating system/s; therefore, the A-List will continue to survive as long as the rating systems survive.

The key element is choice -- the readers want choice -- and they will gravitate to the system that gives it to them in the manner they want -- THAT, is the true meaning of "Social Network". Rating systems are designed to reduce choice.

Hugh says that he applauds this development -- but fails to advocate any kind of corrective measures.

The fact of the matter is that the Blogosphere is loosing it's prominence, because of it's incestuous structure. One must recognize that a Blog is convenient for the Blogger, at the expense of the reader. So, it is only natural that the reader will eventually forsake the Blogosphere for something more conducive to that reader's needs. 

It is NOT the A-List that is dead -- it is the Blogosphere that is dying. We need some good honest discussion on the situation and some alternatives; however, a blog is a damn poor place to have a "good honest discussion".

Anybody want to talk??

To be continued... naturally!!

Doug Skoglund
SandS Software, Inc.
skoglund@pdmsb.com

BTW: If you wish to discuss this matter you might check my off-line forums at http://nationalcomputerassociation.com

Posted by: Doug Skoglund at July 5, 2007 11:38 AM

Oh dear, yet more tools to recombine the people we already know with many we don't.

I'm with Armano on this one: skin in the game. In my neighborhood on the 'sphere it was always about conversations with like-minded individuals on different blogs.

Online is like off line -- the people who are famous, may act that way. Surprisingly ,or maybe not, the nice people are still nice online even though it may take years for them to notice others who are like-minded but not so famous ;-)

The not so nice people... well, the tools don't make much difference there, do they? Same conversation you had about creativity and content.

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni at July 5, 2007 1:09 PM

Doug,

As long as I can blog, the blogosphere will remain alive for me.

And if Hugh carries on blgging and does not follow through on his threat to quit blogging, then blogosphere can thrive because he, you, Scoble, Doc etc inspire us lesser bloggers to want to attain a higher level of creativity and penmanship.

Facebook, MySpace and other social network sites (my opinion)all fall short on the inspirational activity for individuals. Loads of yummy eyecandy but not loads of stuff to uplift my intellectual curiosity or to educate me with.

And I agree that if the blogebrity scene is allowed to fade away it will because we can destroy a need we created by not bothering about it anymore.

Now look what Hugh has created right here in the comments - a debate. Kinda neat thing to be able to do. Hugh does it good. I can't get this reaction at my site. And I think this would also be lost in the vast background noise that is Facebook or MySpace. I dunno. Would it?

Long live blogging.

Viva bloggers viva!

Posted by: The Bruce at July 5, 2007 1:15 PM

I don't see how the A-list can be dead. Their sphere of influence may shift from one medium to another (slightly) but everyone, for the most part, is still tracking them down, following them, and hoping to be their "friends."

So A-Listers jump on new technology like Twitter, Pownce, etc. and everyone follows, desperate to get involved, desperate to be linked in one way or another to them.

That doesn't diminish the A-list, it enhances it, even if the connections aren't being made as much through blogs as they are through other tools/social networks.

Posted by: Ben Yoskovitz at July 5, 2007 2:37 PM

The technorati A-lists measure influence within the blogsphere to an extent. But they do not measure blog popularity.

Here are Alexa ranks for the popularity of some undisputed A listers

seth godin - 46,904

hugh mcleod - 32,517

robert scoble - 11,648

and here is the alexa rank for a blog that doesnt even make the C list:

steve pavlina - 5,058

Who is steve pavlina? I'm not really sure all I know about him is that his blog gets over 2,000,000 hits per day and earns him close to $500,000 per year.

I doubt he will be abandoning his blog for facebook any time soon.

Posted by: Peter Ralph at July 5, 2007 3:24 PM

I couldn't care less who the A, B, C or Z list are. I read good blogs, I give comment on good blogs, I reply to all commenters, I vote for blogs I like irrespective of how long they've been blogging or who they are mates with.

I hate the clique mentality of some bloggers and the fact that if you're not known then some people don't reply to your comments. Isn't life already too full of that crap- can't blogging be free of it?

I have my own lovely readers and I don't care which list they are on. If the A list is dead, then good! Whoever they were in the first place. Let's kill all lists; let's just blog!

Good post btw.

Posted by: MisssyM at July 5, 2007 3:28 PM

Ben mentions the downside of celebrity - the followers and their expectations that can be a drain.

Peter mentions the Pavlina phenomenon (and it is one for sure)and other stats that can drive you mad.

Statistics, statistics damn lies.

I do not how many of you have wondered at the methodologies employed to measure rank, popularity and the inside of your trouser leg. The only constant I have found in all my musing is the tailor and his tape.

All the others differ so now I ignore it as best I can. And I cannot because I am too darn ambitious and want to climb the ranking ladder. So what to do? What to do? Do I believe Technorati, Alexa, Google or Schmoogle?

Missy gives good comment and just wants to blog and that is it.

Me too but not the give good comment bit! But I also want someone to aspire to and herein lies the conumdrum. Kill A-List and aspiration plummets. Maintain/Revive A-List and aspiration rises. More blogs to read and learn things from and so can teach the kids.

OK I go for the latter.

Then we need to address social networks again and so it goes round and round and in the end Zeberdee tells Florence and Dougal it is time for bed and tomorrow can be a new day in blogosphere for new conversation.

Posted by: The Bruce at July 5, 2007 4:59 PM

I agree with you Hugh, that Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Ning are fracturing the blogosphere, and changing how we trust link and who we follow.

The contrast between slow conventional blog conversations and the fast Twitter type channels is astonishing.

Twitter type tools are more intimate, can be more trivial, but have great potential for promotions and non-commercial helping each other as pals.

Fast answers to questions, quick sharing of links and files (Pownce), and enforced brevity of message: great advantages of the New Micro Blogging.

http://twitter.com/vaspers
http://pownce.com/vaspers

Posted by: vaspers the grate at July 5, 2007 5:54 PM

Hugh,

Is this the point?

"...you're far better off going off to somewhere like Facebook and building your own social network with like-minded folk, based on your own collective interests, your own collective passions and own collective sense of merit, than loitering around the Blogopshere, waiting for some rockstar like Scoble, Arrington, Cory etc to link to you... "

I'm giving it a go but I don't like these large supermarket networks.

Posted by: Robert at July 5, 2007 6:06 PM

I understand what you're saying; that it's easier than ever to make connections, and the reliance on getting "vetted" has diminished. That's good.

But the assumption is that we all want to collect friends or create the biggest possible social network. I think that's backwards thinking.

I write to learn, to share, to grow. Would I like more people to read my blog? Sure. But it's never been easier for potential readers to find me. I'll get more readers by creating posts people want to read.

You're right, people shouldn't loiter around the blogosphere waiting for something to happen. They should be focused on creating truly excellent content. Connections will follow. And they'll be stronger and better as a result.

Posted by: Tim Siedell at July 5, 2007 6:12 PM

Blogging and the social networks, such as MyFace & Twitter, are structured to serve different purposes. As Vaspers says the networks are great for fast answers to quick questions and gossipy tidbits too. It's easier to build community on a network than a blog platform.

Blogs allow for deeper explorations and conversations. Why an either or? There is application for both. Perhaps FB will add blogs a la MySpace. What I'd really like is a user friendly dashboard where I can keep track of all my social media tools in one place.

As for A-listers, people will gravitate to those who hold relevancy, even if that relevancy is a "cool factor."

Posted by: at July 5, 2007 11:09 PM

"Who is steve pavlina? I'm not really sure all I know about him is that his blog gets over 2,000,000 hits per day and earns him close to $500,000 per year."

I think I envy Steve. He flies below radar and is raking in cash.

Posted by: Brian Brady at July 6, 2007 2:41 AM

I think there may be hundreds more like Pavlina - I stumbled across his site completely by accident. There just is no ranking of blogs by popoularity available.

here is another one-person blog that has only been up for 6 months and already gets more traffic than scoble:

http://icanhascheezburger.com/

Posted by: Peter Ralph at July 6, 2007 3:30 AM

This all kinda reminds me of Terence McKenna's rant as quoted below. Maybe A-List are the new icons ;-)

Specifically revelant to Facebook, Twitter, et al: "And what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears.":

(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARIG-BQRATs)
"...catalyst to say what has never been said. To see what has never been seen. To draw, paint, sing, sculpt, dance and act what has never before been done. To push the envelope of creativity and language. And what's really important is: I call it the 'felt presence of direct experience', which is a fancy term which just simply means we have to stop consuming our culture. We have to create culture. Don't watch TV. Don't read magazines. Don't even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow.

The nexus of space and time, where you are, now, is the most immediate sector of your universe. And if you're worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered. You're giving it all away to icons. Icons which are maintained by an electronic medium so that, you know, you wanna dress like X or have lips like Y or something. This is shit brained, this kind of thinking.

That is all cultural diversion. And what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told 'No', we're unimportant, we're peripheral, get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that -- and then you're a player. You don't even want to play that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world. Where is that at?"

Posted by: Evelyn Rodriguez at July 6, 2007 9:52 AM

No offense, but the notion of an A-list dying is rubbish. Celebrity and popularity are part of human nature, irritating or otherwise.

Time for a cartoon about A-listers who linkbait the demise of the A-list. ;)

Posted by: TechBrew.net at July 6, 2007 5:56 PM

As an outsider to all this A-list, B-list, C-list blogging rubbish the fact that Hugh mentions it is a timely reminder that the internet is a fickle place and long may it remain so.

That people even think there is a hierarchy of bloggers, including people who should know better, means conventional thinking has taken over and the rot has set in, maybe social networking sites are the great much needed leveler.

Posted by: Tony C at July 6, 2007 10:38 PM

People need their gods and heroes-a basic tenet of human nature. It is also human nature to look at ratings in an environment that is new. Someone coming to the blogosphere has much greater chance of hearing about a Scoble or Searles than a lowly Forman.

Is this fair or accurate? What do metrics have to do with fairness or accuracy-it's all crunching numbers baby. I appreciate quality content and being engaged.

The Twitter/Pownce snacks are OK but too much candy rots your teeth and can give you a stomach ache. Unfortunately that doesn't mean blogs are a guaranteed Peter Luger steak dinner either.

So what method works? Trial and error is the bitter road to true knowledge and expertise. In my experience the most interesting bloggers or people for that matter are the ones with experiential knowledge on the matters of which they speak. The blog space is way to full of vain blog post regurgitation =knowledge =guru mentality.

So being interesting and engaging will always prevail, it's just hard to do and that's why there is always a handful of "planets" amongst a constellation of "stars."

Posted by: Mark Forman at July 7, 2007 1:39 AM

People need their gods and heroes-a basic tenet of human nature. It is also human nature to look at ratings in an environment that is new. Someone coming to the blogosphere has much greater chance of hearing about a Scoble or Searles than a lowly Forman.

Is this fair or accurate? What do metrics have to do with fairness or accuracy-it's all crunching numbers baby. I appreciate quality content and being engaged.

The Twitter/Pownce snacks are OK but too much candy rots your teeth and can give you a stomach ache. Unfortunately that doesn't mean blogs are a guaranteed Peter Luger steak dinner either.

So what method works? Trial and error is the bitter road to true knowledge and expertise. In my experience the most interesting bloggers or people for that matter are the ones with experiential knowledge on the matters of which they speak. The blog space is way to full of vain blog post regurgitation =knowledge =guru mentality.

So being interesting and engaging will always prevail, it's just hard to do and that's why there is always a handful of "planets" amongst a constellation of "stars."

Posted by: Mark Forman at July 7, 2007 2:59 AM

You know, I never managed to get my head around that A-list thing. I have blogs I absolutely love because they're good and they interest me, but A-list? I don't really care, that's certainly not why I'm blogging. So, to be honest, this very debate is beyond me, cause why should I care? Yours is one of the blogs I love, and there are plenty of exceptional must-read blogs out there, but a-list or not is certainly not the criteria

Posted by: Kristine at July 7, 2007 7:55 PM