on blogging

good lord, it’s a school yard out here (and I’m a nerd again!)

ok. So, by every standard possible, I’m such a junior-blogger. I think I’m heading into week three, or something like that, and I’ve been pretty busy at work, which has kept a handle on my blog reading as well as posting. Its been impossible to miss the bruhaha going on as the A-Listers cop a serve from those who they’ve apparently been keeping outside the gates of blogging fame and glory (via Tech.Memeorandum, yep, still loving it).

There are a lot of different takes you can have on this situation, and I have a couple… but the more I read it the more everyone is starting to remind me of a bunch of highschool kids jostling for social superiority. Trying to work out who is in the cool gang, how to get there if you’re not, why another gang is the next cool gang, or an alternate cool gang at least, how we should be nice to the kids who aren’t in the cool gang, or the next coolest gang, or the one after that.

I’m in the one after that – probably one of the biggest gangs – its a bit like a secret society, in that no one knows who we are or what we do/write, except that – unlike most secret societies – no one really wants to be in this one.

So, in this high school yard, its all about eyeballs. How many you have on your pages each day. For some of us more enamoured with Google Adsense, that could be a financial thing. For most of us, really, its about ego. Being visible. Having our voice heard. Getting a good technorati ranking. Now, I didn’t (and I’m sure you didn’t) start a blog explicitly for this purpose (I already talked about my reasons here). Of course we, most of us, have more noble reasons for doing this also – which is to contribute to a much larger discussion about topics and ideas that are important and interesting to us, to share information with others, to participate in an online community.

Thinking about that online community, then what does the cool gang owe me?

Shelly Powers has summed it up beautifully in her recent post ‘some of my best friends are z-listers‘ (which was what *really* got me thinking about the school yard thing), where she says:

A Listers: When you make a comment related to something you’ve read one someone’s weblog, link to it. Don’t talk about it in a sideways manner. Don’t wait until someone you approve of writes about the topic and then link to them. Don’t attach ‘nofollow’ or not add a link, because you don’t think they deserve your ‘link juice’.

If one or more people spend a considerable amount of time responding, thoughtfully, to your post, don’t respond only to those who you consider your ‘equal’. Respond to the argument or discussion, not the person. Don’t hold your response to criticism until someone makes it who you consider to be ‘worthy’.

When people are critical, don’t label them with being a bitch, shrill, hysterical, whining, flaming, or any combination of the same. If this environment was full of people who only smiled, who only agreed, who went around as if we’re all partaking of joy joy juice, and nary a harsh word was heard–you wouldn’t be where you are today. You need us. You need us, a hell of a lot more than we need you. Your fans may make you feel good, but it’s your critics who made you famous.

As dorky as us ‘not cool’ kids are for sniping at the A Listers, I have to agree that the no-link policy that some of them seem to subscribe to, and the constant linking to each other is a little irksome. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that they’ve not linked to me. As far as the community is concerned I hardly exist. I’m only just starting to get out there and participate – to write about some stuff on my blog with a reasonable amount of consideration, and to engage in conversation on other people’s blogs (via comments, which – yes, I’m inclined to agree that all blogs should enable comments).

I won’t be complaining about my lack of tracking and no one linking to me until I’ve been out there and actively engaging in the blogosphere for a lot longer than 3 weeks. Good for AtariBoy for getting up amongst the A-Listers so quickly, but the real challenge is going to be in sustaining it – continuing to contribute and to make the effort to write interestingly over the years. Unlike the good looking kids who made the cool gang at school thanks to a genetic jackpot, the A-Listers have written well and often, and enduringly. Personally, I owe them a vote of thanks for that.

But there is one thing that I’d like to ask, and that is to echo Adam Green and ask that, if you’re an A Lister.. hell, if you’ve got a blog (because if you’re reading this changes are good that you’re *not* an A Lister), then make an effort to read outside your usual circle. Find people you haven’t come across before who are writing well and making sense, and give them a link. If we all think a little less about our own web stats and a little more about the democratic meda we’re trying to participate in, then hopefully we’ll have a lot fewer of these school yard moment, and a lot more quality reading.

(And yes, I promise to blog about blogging as infrequently as possible. Its very navel-gazey, isn’t it!)

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