The blogosphere has become respectable… what a drag

Laura McKenna has a great post on the current state of the blogosphere.  The title to this post sums up (but does not do justice to) her argument.  Lots of respones from other "oldie bloggers": Matt Yglesias, Megan McArdle, Kevin Drum, Russell Arben Fox, Adam Kotsko, Ezra Klein, and Tyler Cowen. The fact that it ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Laura McKenna has a great post on the current state of the blogosphere.  The title to this post sums up (but does not do justice to) her argument.  Lots of respones from other "oldie bloggers": Matt Yglesias, Megan McArdle, Kevin Drum, Russell Arben Fox, Adam Kotsko, Ezra Klein, and Tyler Cowen.

The fact that it took me a few days to stumble onto it suggests she's onto something.  Some of her key points:

Bloggers have undermined the blogosphere. Bloggers do not link to each other as much as they used to.  It's a lot of work to look for good posts elsewhere, and most bloggers have become burnt out. Drezner and Farrell had a theory that even small potato bloggers would have their day in the sun, if they wrote something so great that it garnered the attention of the big guys. But the big guys are too burnt out to find the hidden gems. So, good stuff is being written all the time, and it isn't bubbling to the top.

Laura McKenna has a great post on the current state of the blogosphere.  The title to this post sums up (but does not do justice to) her argument.  Lots of respones from other "oldie bloggers": Matt Yglesias, Megan McArdle, Kevin Drum, Russell Arben Fox, Adam Kotsko, Ezra Klein, and Tyler Cowen.

The fact that it took me a few days to stumble onto it suggests she’s onto something.  Some of her key points:

Bloggers have undermined the blogosphere. Bloggers do not link to each other as much as they used to.  It’s a lot of work to look for good posts elsewhere, and most bloggers have become burnt out. Drezner and Farrell had a theory that even small potato bloggers would have their day in the sun, if they wrote something so great that it garnered the attention of the big guys. But the big guys are too burnt out to find the hidden gems. So, good stuff is being written all the time, and it isn’t bubbling to the top.

Many have stopped using blogrolls, which means less love spread around the blogosphere. The politics of who should be on a blogroll was too much of a pain, so bloggers just deleted the whole thing….

In the past, I could easily figure out which blogs had linked to me and then send them a reciprocal link. For whatever reasons, Google Blog and Technorati aren’t picking up the smaller blogs, and I have no idea who’s linking to me….

So blogging has changed a lot in the past six years. It’s still an excellent medium for self-expression and professional networking, but it will no longer make mega-stars. It’s actually a good thing that the hoopla has died down. No one should spend that much time in front of a computer. The expectations were unrealistic. Use your blogs to target particular audiences and have a clear mission, and you’ll get a following. Blogging should be the means to another goal — a rough draft for future articles/books, a way to network with professionals, a place to document your life for your children, a way to have fun. Those are very real and good outcomes of blogging and that’s why I’m continuing to keep at.  

Laura is definitely onto something — professionalization, partisanship and speciaization have hit the blogosphere pretty hard.  The linksearch problem might be abetting this — like Laura, I have more difficulty now tracing who’s linked to my posts than I did a few years ago. 

That said, I will defend the "focal point" argument Henry and I made oh so many moons ago.  When the unexpected happens in the world, I do think new blogs and new bloggers can emerge rapidly.  Think of Simon Johnson’s Calculated Risk Baseline Scenario blog in response to the global financial crisis, or Tehran Bureau in response to the Iran election imbroglio. 

The difference might be that new bloggers are not exactly neophytes on their subject matter.  Johnson was the IMF’s chief economist, for example.  My fellow bloggers here at Foreign Policy are not exactly novices in the subject matter.  So it might be more accurate to say that the days when someone like Matt Yglesias or Kevin Drum could be vaulted into the top tier of bloggers has come to an end. 

As to whether this is a good or bad thing, I’m hopelessly compromised here because of my total selling out move to Foreign Policy.  I’ll let the readers be the judge.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he is the co-director of the Russia and Eurasia Program. Twitter: @dandrezner

Tag: Media

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