Friday, April 28, 2006

Donald Sensing returns, momentarily

Having gone dormant for a while, Donald Sensing posts once again with a few good comments about blogging in general. He makes the case that the trend is to group blogging rather than individuals.

... the fact is that low-readership blogs are not significant in importance to the blogosphere at large, no matter how important they are to their authors or few-dozen readers. Increasingly, team blogs and blogs integrating different media will dominate the ’sphere, By “dominate,” I mean attract the vast majority of readers and have the most influence in larger society. ...there are blogs that discuss knitting and they are important to their authors and readers, but frankly, get a grip: they are utterly unimportant to everyone else and have no effect whatsoever in larger society. I’m not trying to demean those kinds of blogs at all; let me re-emphasize that they are obviously important to their authors and readers. But the vast majority of readers, as well as the ad money that blogs will increasingly generate, will revolve around fairly few blogs.

And he links dutifully to N.Z.Bear and the numbers game.

I get it. Numbers means power and influence, and that is where the action is. I suppose I am destined to remain down here with the kniting crowd (Hi, Cass!) and be happy gazing at my belly button. Unless, of course, I might get invited to join one of those "groups" he mentioned as a contributor. I can't think of any at the moment that I would like to join. My erudition is far too short to rub shoulders with the ones I like best, and the rest fall into that category that Groucho Marx so cleverly said...I don't want to be part of any group that would have me as a member.

Hmm. I think not.

After investing my adult life in dealing with thousands, maybe millions of the public, I have learned not to put much stock in either their collective judgement or taste regarding anything. I can assure you that the vast majority of people are not very discerning about food and that Truett Cathy was right when he indicated that consistency is more important than quality. Getting it predictably the same each time is far better for the food business than getting it either better or less costly. Have you had a plain hamburger lately from any of the big name companies? Or did a blind tasting to see if you can really tell the difference between Coca Cola and Pepsi? I thought not. Rest my case. [Blind taste: divide two competing cans, equally chilled, into two-ounce souffle cups, numbered and randomly placed mixed up on a tray. You will taste a dozen little cups in any order you choose, identifying each one as you go. Someone else will have to do the exercise with you to keep you honest and keep track. At the end of twelve tastes your sense of humility might be better than your taste buds.]

One remark before I get to the famous ecosystem. It has to do with quality versus quantity. We live in a time when pedestrian quality passes as acceptable simply because so may people are "into it." I have in mind a number of examples, from poor grammar and spelling to bad manners and bad taste in clothing (imitation of prison clothes? Hello!). Or shacking up rather than making a marriage commitment...and having offspring without parental commitment from both mother and father. Looked at your email lately? Seen anything worth filing? Looked at morning television? Listened to radio talk shows, left, right or center? Maybe you are impressed with the level of public intelligence but I am not.

I was listening to music this morning that I couldn't put my finger on. I love doing that...playing name-that-tune with a piece of music already in progress. Title, composer, whatever. I knew it was movie music, but only when the announcer told me did I know it was a theme from a Fellini film, La Strada. I never saw that film but I have seen enough of Fellini to know the name. And my mind drifted to thinking...How many people know his first name is Federico (not Fredrico) or even heard of the guy? Or Akira Kurosawa, or Sergei Eisenstein? Heck, I expect the number of people who know of Sam Goldwyn is shrinking by the hour.

And that's just movies! Thanks to the internet no one has to know much of anything anymore, and yet they can get hold of everything all at once so they think they know it all. I don't know where this will end, but I feel fortunate to be between the generations. I am one of the lucky ones who found out early how ignorant I really was, so for me the internet is still a wonderful novelty. For me, ignorance is a given, so ramaining in a minority of one is not a troubling idea. At some level I know that everyone is like me in that regard, but thanks to the safety of numbers most people remain comfortably in denial, certain in the correctness of their views and getting more convinced as they grow older that they were more right than they ever imagined!

Which brings us to the ecosystem...
I got the link at the bottom of the scroll and have watched my status rise and fall from pretty bad to awful and back again. I noticed that ranking has to do with "links," however that is tallied, and I am getting credit for a few links that only exist in the equivalent of blogging archeology. Looking at the big guys, I see a lot of links, but in some cases without a corresponding swell in traffic. Some seem to have a lot or readers, others a lot of pointers. For some reason I have started to get a lot of search hits...probably because I use clear terms and phrases in my post titles instead of oblique (read untraceable) references. Even when I want to make a good pun, I resist more than I yield. I envy those who have a troop of readers and commenters, but when I get comments I feel awkward replying, so maybe it is jsut as well.

I have great respect for Sensing and hope he keeps his site from vanishing altogether. I have linked to it several times, once as recently as last week from a comment thread in someone else's discussion. He's one of the good guys. There is every good reason for him to be part of a group. He will grace any place he writes with a depth of excellence that is hard to find these days. But his old blog will always be as comfortable as an old pair of shoes.

And me? I'm gonna plug along and keep doing my homework. One day I might learn something.


Cass said...

I wonder if Sensing realizes that some knitting blogs are huge. Not mine, certainly, but some of the links in my sidebar get thousands of hits per day.

More personally, I find group blogs annoying. Not being able to get a good feel for the author over time makes it hard for me to put the words into context.

None of which has much to do with the point of your post. But like you, I'll keep plugging away. And like you, I realize the difference between information and knowledge.

Hoots said...

Very well put. And thank you, for both reading and leaving the comment.

At the moment I so very much want to shake the world by its collective shoulders and urge it to wake up. The more I think about Monday's events the more uncomfortable I feel. Not afraid for my safety or anything like that, but sad to see so much passion and potential energy for good being ignored or jerked around by people who should know better.