The always thoughtful Seth Finklestein says the “New Gatekeepers Are Still GATEKEEPERS”.
This world is exactly the same as *every* *other* *media* *world*, in that there’s a few participants who have enormous reach, while most have little to none (“Power Law”). That’s just a mathematical fact. One obvious corollary is that if an A-lister (very high audience) writes a personal attack on a Z-lister (very low audience), the Z-lister has no *effective* means of responding, to any comparable extent. This is hardly life-threatening, but it’s not pleasant.
Not sure if I agree with Seth this time. If an A-Lister does something squirly against a Z-Lister, the word soon gets out. Nothing like the threat of instant mass-retribution from thousands of scalp-hunting bloggers to help keep you honest, regardless of your stats.
Besides that, he’s not exactly offering any solutions to the problem.
Of course he isn’t. Because there isn’t one. There is only “Shirky’s Law”:
Equality. Fairness. Opportunity. Pick Two.
[From Clay Shirky’s seminal essay on power laws, “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality”:]
Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality.
… Once a power law distribution exists, it can take on a certain amount of homeostasis, the tendency of a system to retain its form even against external pressures. Is the weblog world such a system? Are there people who are as talented or deserving as the current stars, but who are not getting anything like the traffic? Doubtless. Will this problem get worse in the future? Yes.
The fact is, the more closely the blogosphere resembles the real world, the more interesting and dynamic it gets. And that means inequality. To have the blogosphere as a place where lots of interesting people are doing all sorts of interesting things is far more preferable to me, than it ending up as a detached online refuge for “Pet Toys”, where nothing ever happens, except indignant people living vicariously through others, and whinging about their lack of traffic.