Clay Shirky explains why nobody reads your Weblog. In short: the more choices in society, the greater the inequality. (Quick contra example: with few choices in Communist Russia, everyone was equally poor.)
More "scientifically," however, Mr Shirky describes the Power Law: the second most-popular Weblog draws 1/2 of all visitors, the 10th most popular draws 1/10 as many, etc. This results in seeming inequities, leading to the "It's Not Fair!" feeling by writers whose blogs are ignored:
- As the number of blogs rise, the power curve becomes steeper, increasing the gap between #1 and the median.
- Power curves are heavily weighted in favor of top performers, meaning that most blogs -- something like 2/3 of them -- are below average.
Some of the factors include:
* Some blogs are written better than average.
* Readers rely on recommendations from others.
* The social aspect of reading the same blogs as friends.
These factors result in Power Curves, creating some blogs that are greatly preferred over the majority.
Mr Shirky then asks the "Is the inequality fair?" question. He says, "Yes," because:
1. Weblogs are cheap and "anyone" can create them. There is low hinderence imposed by capital requirements.
2. Weblogs require constant attention; unlike a book, you cannot write an entry and then sit back to collect royalties (or, in lieu of royalties, the admiration of your peers).
3. Weblog popularity is created democratically: you (and thousands of others) chose (or not) to read specific blogs.
4. He denies that there is an "A-list" of top bloggers, because of the distance between the #1 and #2 spots. I disagree, because in any niche, there are the top performers, which occupy the top several positions. While he shows smooth Power Curve charts, I think in niche areas, such as computer-aided design, the curve is plateau-shaped: a small bunching of A-listers, followed by a larger group of C-listers.
This inequality-generated-through-equal-access drives the socialists in our midsts crazy. Already some have demanded that certain disadvantaged groups must be given more recognition in the Blog-o-sphere. Can you image Affirmative Reading being required in each household of the nation?
Blogging is doomed to repeat the sorry demise of other Web technologies: "The term 'blog' will fall into the middle distance, as 'home page' and 'portal' have, words that used to mean some concrete thing, but which were stretched by use past the point of meaning. "