The (old) Licquia Family Blog

This is the old blog site, powered by a simple blogging system called Blosxom. It's here to keep old links from breaking, and for whatever historic interest might remain.

Here's the current site.

Fri, 16 May 2003

At least bloggers think

The A-list is a term that seems to come from Clay Shirky's essay on weblog inequality. The general idea is that several bloggers, by virtue of the inbound links given to them by others, have managed to gain high popularity, and that this popularity tends to propagate itself. Some people have translated this inequity into a cause, most notably Andrew Orlowski from The Register. Bill Thompson, from spiked-IT, has joined the cause with this essay on the recent O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference.

When I read Thompson's article, it became clear very early on that Thompson was writing for shock cynicism value more than as a rigorous critique of anything specific. That's too bad, because he makes a few good points that get lost in the shuffle. Several bloggers have been trying to make sense of the problem. ( Doc Searls seems like a good touchpoint for the linked debate, though I risk perpetrating the A-list by linking to him. Horrors!) It's hard to sort through the hostility, but here's my take.

Thompson's beef can be summed up in two points:

The first point should be obvious. I don't have any editors; I doubt very many do. Part of the A-list's appeal is the general quality of their posts over the "this week i ate ice cream for dinner, ain't i a rebel" stuff. On the other hand, one needs to have some perspective. The phenomenon Thompson was complaining about most was the "live blogging" being done, which was basically a bunch of connected people with laptops blasting first impressions into their blogs as the conference unfolded. Sure, it's unfocused, but at the time, it was the only information out there; its immediacy was something that couldn't be matched by the more thoughtful blogs and the news. Given the lack of alternatives, criticism of "live blogging" amounted to criticism of immediacy in general. Some of that criticism might be valid, but I doubt you could defend "anti-immediacy" with the same panache.

What really irks me about writers like Thompson is the complete lack of respect for a new idea and the thinkers behind it. Some people seem to make their way in the world by breaking down the good others do, thus making it more difficult for people with good ideas to push them forward and do good and interesting things. I'm of the opinion that this kind of cynical slamming is one of the great evils of the world.

Maybe the problem is that people who aren't used to having good ideas don't recognize when an idea is still in the formative stages, when they can exert positive influence on it. The level of commenting Thompson's getting shows that he can gain the attention even of the A-list. Yet, once he has their attention, he insults them, because old, entrenched ideas often can't be changed without a lot of strong negative criticism. That he mistakes blogging for an old, entrenched idea only displays his own lack of imagination and his lack of ability to engage in a creative process.

Enough for now. I'll write more later on some of the good points he raises.

May 16, 2003 | Comments are no longer available