Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blogging About Blogging About Blogrolling

Last week's 'blogroll amnesty', in which certain A-list bloggers pruned their blogrolls, highlighted one of the fundamental problems in the liberal blogosphere: the most popular bloggers tend to link mainly to the other most popular blogs. Jon Swift and Skippy, among others, posted stinging critiques of this action. Atrios' defensive response shows that he has no idea what this is really about.

What's at stake here is the egalitarian and democratic nature of the blogosphere. If traffic and linkage are concentrated among a relatively few extremely popular blogs, then the vast majority are effectively shut out of the conversation. It is a basic liberal belief that great success carries with it the duty to extend opportunity to others; that's the duty that, as some see it, Atrios and others fail to live up to. As Jon Swift observes, the right blogosphere is actually much more liberal about linking to smaller blogs than the liberal side.

There are certainly positive counter-examples. One of them is Shakespeare's Sister, who has consistently gone out of her way to give opportunities to newer and smaller blogs. I don't know if that's why she was hired as Edwards' netroots coordinator, but I think that's why she'll be effective at the job. She understands that the blogosphere is valuable in proportion to how democratic it is, that it can realize its potential only if everyone who has something worth saying has an opportunity to be heard. Bringing that ethos to the Edwards campaign would be a huge accomplishment.

[That's all, folks]