Expertise's Politics and Sports Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2005
The Blogosphere: A Caste System?

I've been paying attention over the last couple of weeks to the discussion about inclusiveness of the blogosphere.  The Susan Estrich vs. Michael Kinsley "feud" has sparked a discussion on several blogs about the struggles of women bloggers and whether there is a "good ole boy" network, per se.

There are several reasons why blogs are more popular than others.  A good reason is that bloggers like Andrew Sullivan and Michelle Malkin, for example, are also columnists and have a strong fanbase in which they were able to attract to their websites.  That's why Malkin's blog became such a force so quickly.  Others, like Powerline, became popular mainly by being unrepentant whistleblowers in the face of the mainstream media.  Before Rather, there was their battles with the Associated Press, and I have become a big fan of Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff''s work and scholarly analysis of current events. (What irony: his name is Deacon, yet he's a Terps fan.  Ah well.)

However, most bloggers start from scratch; no fanfare, no readership, and no identification.  In fact, I'm sure several bloggers quit after only a few weeks because blogging at first seems like a hobby, but becomes a tedious chore.  Several bloggers post 3 or more times a day, and all of it is new material.  Some people simply don't have the time or the patience for that kind of writing.  The fact that you check your blog a few hours after you posted what you THINK is a masterpiece, and see the blog looks the same as when you left the computer earlier, can be quite disheartening. 

The blogosphere runs off of a free market system, and that market can be very cruel.  You have two choices; you can quit, or you can dig in your heels and sustain until you get your break.  Say what you will about LaShawn Barber, but the bottom line is she made contacts and did what she could to have people notice her.  Like Malkin, her writings are provocative, and they get people to pay attention to what she's saying and the things she champions.  In a market, you have to sell something that very few can provide; that includes perspectives, backgrounds, and writing prowess.  You have to be exceptional.  If you sound like everyone else in the blogosphere, you're going to have the same ratings as everyone else in the blogsphere.

Is there a blogosphere hierarchy?  No doubt, and at the center of it, particularly on the political conservative side, is Glenn Harlan Reynolds.  What makes his position so unique is that he refers so many blogs that Instapundit becomes a central source for a lot of the blogosphere.  It's very rare that Instapundit doesn't take the lead on the top issue of the day (well, Powerline and LGF completely led with Rather, but possibly because Reynolds was sick that day, if I recall).  Thus, the blogs he links to most generally receives a heck of alot of traffic, which creates a network (Powerline, Althouse, Kaus, Hewitt, etc).  

That's not a bad thing; that's simply how it is.  You got to get in where you fit in.  When a new product with a fresh name comes out, it's always going to be harder to compete with the brand names, because the brands will always have their loyal and faithful base.  Thus, in a lot of cases you have to be significantly better than the brands in order to be truly competitive.  You also have to adapt to circumstances and problems a lot quicker than they have to.  For example, VodkaPundit took some time off this week from his blog, but was able to get some well-known bloggers to step in for him.  Reynolds has done the same in the past.  But how many other bloggers could do the same thing?  Very few.

I'm not a syndicated columnist (although I aspire to be), a lawyer at a big firm, a law professor at a well-known university, a talk radio show host, nor a political consultant or analyst.  I'm just me.  I go to school, I referee, and I blog.  I like politics and sports, which is what I mostly write about.  It's not the easiest road to take in the blogosphere, but it's the road most traveled.  One day, my persistence will get me where I want to go; until then, I'm content with where I'm at and will adjust my little spot in the sphere in order to attract more visitors.  I have a vision, and while it may take a minute, I'll see it through. :)

UPDATE:  This post was featured on Men's News Daily, which is probably the best collection of news and commentary on the internet.  So if you read my article there, feel free to leave a comment on either the tagboard or in the comments section.  Check out the links on the sidebar and click Home in order to see some of my current writings, including the California gay marriage ruling, March Madness, and the continuing fight in Congress over filibusters.

So welcome, and please visit again.

Posted at 05:24 am by Expertise

March 19, 2005   02:17 AM PST
Found you through the Mens News link. The entire issue of female bloggers being treated unfairly is inane. I blogged for a one read me either. This is the first time I've whined about it. I did send Michael Kingsley a complaining email. He didn't publish it.
steve deluca
March 18, 2005   10:53 AM PST
Thanks for the thoughtful article.


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