webloggers should cluster themselves into like-minded groups April 26, 2002 5:10 PM   Subscribe

SDB suggests that webloggers cluster themselves into like-minded groups, and cross-link accordingly. Disagreements (including here) are what he calls "religious" in nature: "A-list" vs. warblogger, "E/N" vs. "A-list", etc. Does Steve's structuralist argument hold up? Are his characterizations fair or accurate? Do you slot yourself into a group? Are the blogs you link to in a similar vein as yours?
posted by mcwetboy to General Weblog-Related at 5:10 PM (113 comments total)

i've got this neat little list of like-minded mefi'ers on my blog.

look to the left on here.

does that count?
posted by jcterminal at 5:39 PM on April 26, 2002

hmm.. my link list is kind of strange.. i never liked the sight of a humongous column of links that i usually see on people's sites, so i have a random section where four links (from twenty) are displayed.. i have a theory that with this shortened list, even though the people's links aren't always displayed, they'll have a higher click-through rate... but i digress... though i do link several people who share some of the same interests as me, a lot of my links refer to people like oliver and kindall, even though my weblog is the farthest thing from being either political/sports-related or technical (my apologies to you guys, for the generalizations.). i try to have a good variety with the four links that are displayed at a time. maybe one that i visit frequently, a web comic that's also a daily visit, a page that i feel is similar to mine, and a slot for whatever else pops up in my head...

and i'm rambling again.

and i still don't know the deal with this e/n thing.
posted by lotsofno at 5:49 PM on April 26, 2002

SDB's analysis seems pretty lucid to me. His resentment of "A-Listers" does manage to leak through the prose in a few places, but this doesn't undermine his argument.
posted by Marquis at 5:59 PM on April 26, 2002

Do I slot myself into a group? No, not really...more into a slow evolution. I have no idea what my site's gonna be when it grows up...and I like it that way. After all, it's really for my pleasure.

Can someone explain the the e/n thing in plain english?

The blogs I link to all have one of two things in common: Either I enjoy reading them or they have a knack for finding the interesting and unusual on the web.

Should we capitalize "web?" I've never been clear on that.

lotsofno, I agree with you on the massive list o'links...and I like the way you handle yours. Can I steal your idea?
posted by NsJen at 5:59 PM on April 26, 2002

"what that off the port bow LT. JG"

"I'm clueless sir"

"okaydoke, 5 degrees- down bubble, heading...236 by 876, make your depth 6 ft...

"but sir?"

posted by clavdivs at 6:10 PM on April 26, 2002

I think the e/n thing is his way of snarking at the livejournal, blogspot, etc. users that can't/don't care enough to make blogging a full time hobby (like me). Although he listed some he likes, he still comes off as resentfull towards them (us?). I'm pretty much like that, but also a bit of an anti-war blogger. Figure that out. I only link to two other blogs, and they're both friends of mine. If you're going to link to a bunch of other blogs though, I wouldn't stick to just like minded blogs, b/c then all you get is a bunch of different takes on X.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:11 PM on April 26, 2002

SDB and I exchanged email about it, so I might as well write it here. Here's what I wrote him:

I think I might have found a better functional definition of "A-list".

I agree with perhaps the first half of what you say, that functionally, people do cluster, and there are several terms for certain clusters. But when you segue into how MetaFilter is plastic and interacts among clusters and how the warblogs and a-list treat politics, I think you're generalizing and projecting your personal viewpoints far too much. Your functional definition of "a-list" fails for me.

I'm really busy today, or I'd deconstruct this thing line by line, but the thing you linked on metafilter about people being sick of politics threads wasn't because of some liberal ideal or clashing of politics or "the left" shying away from politics. It was that a community of many people and many viewpoints has covered the same exact post on a daily basis for the past few weeks ("Israel is wrong! No, Palestine is wrong!"), and the comments in each are by the same 5 people, some with strong pro-israel views, others with pro-palestine views, and everyone else who used to say "both groups are fucked up, can't we try something else?" just stopped posting, since the people on each side of that polarized issue weren't listening.

A community is a different kind of space, and it thrives on a active, varied population that shows self-restraint and moderation within each participant. If anyone posts on the same subject five times, others will notice that person hogging the group microphone, and call them out as selfish. The israel/palestine threads are just that, they are tiresome and being perpetually posted by a small group that wants to drive their point home with a sledgehammer while at the same time refusing to hear or consider the other side.

It's not a politics thing at all, there have been people posting one thread after another about religion, death penalty, prison, race, sexism, or even video games, and people get sick of seeing the same thing in a community shared by others. To characterize the calls for people to lay off a subject within a community space as a Nader-left vs. Hawkish Right battle is spurious at best.

Arguing about generalizations also tends to try and reinforce them, which I would think people are beyond at some point. For instance, the E/N stuff is totally off my radar now. I don't have a negative attitude towards them because I just don't come across them, and I just plain don't care (honestly, it's like saying that webloggers hate Oprah.com journalers, when no one cares whether or not they exist). I would argue that the weblog as a format of building a website has taken over the E/N kids, and the line between weblogs and E/N sites is so blurry as to be non-existent to me (except of course for the hangers on that proclaim what is and isn't a weblog and I'm sure there are E/N equivalents). I would prefer reading a viewpoint that doesn't reinforce cliques, but shows me what they have in common, and how similar they are.

There are reasons why I don't care for warblogs, and if you asked anyone from your A-list, I think they'd all have different reasons. To generalize among them all would be committing another misrepresentation of the truth. It's not simply that their politics clash with mine, it has a lot to do with the repetitious nature of warblogs. I'm just tired of repeating history again; in 2000 every news article was about how wonderful Ev and Meg and Blogger were, and every subsequent article built upon previous boring, banal stories of those three subjects. In 2002, it's instapundit and andrewsullivan replaced with Ev and Meg, and the articles are covering the same ground. Everything that people hated about weblogs in 1999 and 2000 (they don't create original content, they just link to other things, they link to each other, they pat each other on the back in their insular discussions, etc) can be applied to warblogs, and speaking as someone who has gone through all this, I'm a tad disappointed to see such recent history repeat itself. If I could fast forward to 2004, I'm sure the people blogging about the war now would have grown in the same ways the old guard have, and we'd probably be arguing about a new set of bloggers that don't seem to learn from the mistakes of the recent past.

And probably the biggest thing I hate reading is that whenever anyone from the "old guard" of blogging makes any critical comment about warblogs, it is instantly attributed to either jealousy on the part of the old guard, or simply written off as a clash of politics.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:11 PM on April 26, 2002





No, I'm not.

Ok, the basic premise that blogs tend to be all clique-ish and will tend to link to like-minded sites.. ok, sure, fine.. but all the rest of the stuff is idiotic. War blog? Dude, zines and self-publishers with opinions have had web sites way before Pyra ever was a thought in matt's mind.

The whole description of the 'Gay Underground' sounds like a homophobic reaction.

I don't think he has any understanding of the history of the web, what has come before, and what is open for the future.. and is more anamoured with the fact that he has gotten coverage in the Washington Post and NYTimes to actually think and understand anything that he's talking about.

posted by rich at 6:40 PM on April 26, 2002

webloggers cluster themselves into like-minded groups

Just like people have been doing for millenia.

It's a big web, there's room for everyone.
I don't understand, what's the problem supposed to be?
posted by normy at 6:41 PM on April 26, 2002

Strange, useless, gently seething fluff.
With charts.
SDB is more formidable in retrospect.
posted by Opus Dark at 6:54 PM on April 26, 2002

Interesting that this issue has been brought up, since I recently became the editor of the web log cliques category at dmoz. MeFi is listed in that category and I'm not sure it should be in the same category as the self-declared cliques that I've been reading.

From what I have seen there are bloggers that want to associate with like-minded individuals and a clique is created. Hey, we like talking about toothpaste, if you like toothpaste, come and talk about it with us and we'll all discuss it together.

On the other hand, there are bloggers that disagree with other bloggers but join the same community to take part in what is often stimulating and valuable discussion.

Like Matt pointed out, it's hard to generalize among them because they are all so different. As far as how to form the category I'm inclined to think that I could separate the actual cliques from other metablogs that are more diverse. The question is how do I make the call? Some of these sites are blog directories which fit in neither a clique nor a metablog. Each blog is unique in some way which makes it difficult to separate them into logical categories.

As for mcwetboy's questions, I don't consider myself a part of any specific group and the blogs that I link to are as diverse as the comments I make.
posted by jaden at 6:57 PM on April 26, 2002

Yeah, it's not quite like he did his homework on the gay ghetto exactly, for chrissakes (it exists, it's huge, it has its own politics and rules, big deal). So I'd say this piece is overall rather "broad strokes," to put it nicely.

Speaking to how the thread was posed, I found that the fun only started once I left my ghetto. Outside, I found incredible people with different perspectives from mine or just hilarious story telling skills. I can't stop reading once I understand someone's voice, whether it's well-known megnut or an interesting new character who doesn't even have archives yet. Hell, I could actually learn something.

I think in time, however, the walls between cliques will solidify and the communities will grow and warblogs and queerblogs and camblogs won't even be recognized as the same animal anymore, meeting perhaps only in zones like Metafilter.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:05 PM on April 26, 2002

I think SDB just wanted to try out the megnut patented weblog press auto-generator.

Two weblogs in my links are linked back to me, the rest are all weblogs or journals I enjoy, written by people that have no idea I exist. I have no idea what it all means, it just is.
posted by iconomy at 7:09 PM on April 26, 2002

Stevie BestDente should go cluster himself.
posted by quonsar at 7:10 PM on April 26, 2002

“webloggers cluster themselves into like-minded groups, and cross-link accordingly”

Sociology predicts they would. Is this worth noting due to some weblogger myth that they don’t?

Its not clustering, the word is homophily.
posted by raaka at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2002

To answer my own question, I'm a somewhat-left-of-centre Mac-head, and yet I link to SDB on my own blog, not because I agree with the warblogging, Apple-bashing so-and-so, but because he's interesting to read, and that's my only criteria. I'm fairly group-agnostic myself, mostly because I usually end up being an outsider in any case (tastes too obscure and contradictory); I don't feel enough a part of any blogging community, assuming there is such a beast, to link to some to the exclusion of others. So (once again), I disagree with SDB, but posted him anyway, because his post was thought-provoking even so.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:32 PM on April 26, 2002

And this is the sort of thing that I'd rather see on the front page of MetaFilter.
posted by raaka at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2002

Was SDB always so snide and arrogant? I seem to recall liking him at one point.
posted by Optamystic at 7:55 PM on April 26, 2002

'Gay Underground' sounds like a homophobic reaction.

no, no, we really are underground, in a big cave system, with george bush sr., and unicorns.
posted by rhyax at 8:12 PM on April 26, 2002

Do you boys fight crime?
Can I be gay? I've got the pants.
posted by dong_resin at 8:27 PM on April 26, 2002

"the e/n thing in plain english"

e/n = an excuse to post porn/death. when you can't think of anything original.
posted by jcterminal at 8:33 PM on April 26, 2002

Wonder why the concept of weblogs as a "Custom Start Page" isn't more commonly discussed? Vikas Kamat sums up why I finally put together a blog: "This is how I surf the web. Turns out creating your own start page beats all portals, back-flipping, personalized corporate pages, and book-marking tools."

I predict the combination of blogging, wireless laptops, and coffeehouses will produce the next Karl Kraus. (Some of his quotes.)
posted by sheauga at 8:38 PM on April 26, 2002

Clustering into a group start page makes sense, no?
posted by sheauga at 8:39 PM on April 26, 2002

Sheauga, I don't get how the whole start page turned into blogging. I'm not a blogger, but I have my own personal start page. I don't see how having a page with all the links you visit on a daily basis turns into a diary/journal/blog.
posted by Apoch at 9:01 PM on April 26, 2002

Leapfrogging the A-List into the Nobel Prize Winner cluster: Roberta Menchu.
posted by sheauga at 9:05 PM on April 26, 2002

How can you do a survey of blog history and leave out Stile? Surely the dude has more traffic than most of the sites listed.

Is Stile like prototypical E/N? Or is it something different?
posted by Mid at 10:20 PM on April 26, 2002

Umm, could someone do the right thing and cough up 10 bucks to buy Rigoberta's blogspot banner?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2002

Let's keep SDB away from the fertilizer.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:55 PM on April 26, 2002

"Is Stile like prototypical E/N?"

yes. except he's a total sell out (hence all the porn links), and it's not so much a 'he' as it is a 'group of people'.
posted by jcterminal at 11:00 PM on April 26, 2002

I dont find the concept of clustering an earth shaking revealation. A far more sophisticated treatment of how neighbourhoods form is available in Steven Johnson's Emergence. (It can of course be argued that those ideas can't and shouldn't be extrapolated to the web / weblogs), ....

I dont know enough about weblogging to comment on the categorization, but considering the number of webloggers out there, the classification seems a little simplistic.

I do feel that there is a fair amount of tension between 'warbloggers' and the largely web designer / developer/ content creator bloggers whose preoccupation is the web and who apparently predate warblogging. I think ( to put it simplistically) that the majority of creative people tend to have a left liberal political orientation. So, I am not terribly surprised about the antagonism. The vehemence sometimes surprises me. But the anonymity of the web sometimes make people lose their civility ..

posted by justlooking at 11:19 PM on April 26, 2002

There is certainly an undercurrent of slight jealousy from some of the A-lister/first wave bloggers at the attention the "warbloggers" are getting right now as well as their right-leaning politics. But there's also a knee-jerk animosity that's quite a characteristic of the warbloggers towards the a-list and their more left politics.

A-list sees the thing/phenom they "created" now focused not on "discovering cool things on the web" but instead more along the op-ed pages of the newspaper. Warbloggers see a-listers as (leftist) whiners. Both sides seem to have valid points to me, as well as being off their rockers.

"There is no A-list"? Well, yeah, yes there is and it can be quite cliqueish. Does everyone in the A-list act like they're in an a-list? No.

Is everyone thats a warblogger a drooling right wing maniac who pops one for Bush everytime he's on tv, caught in an endless *pundit echo chamber? No. But quite a few are.

Some warblogs are shuttering doors because they have nothing intelligent to say, while others have risen up in stature and are in the place of some a-listers. Thats how it goes. Camgirls will probably knock some of the warbloggers within the year.

I thought SDB's article was a decent sketch, but I'm sure it ruffles feathers - usually a good thing IM(less than)HO.

(Or maybe Britneybloggers. I'm ahead of the damn curve on that one. The NY Times has my address, and Meg's instant article generator - shouldn't be too hard to do.)
posted by owillis at 11:35 PM on April 26, 2002

owillis - can you point to some examples of the "undercurrent of slight jealousy" you've seen. I certainly don't get around to every blog out there, but I haven't seen that. I've seen some of that with respect to journalists who are stepping up to start blogs or (at least in the minds of the bloggers) misrepresent blogging. However, the war bloggers seem to be ignored if anything. I'm reminded of Canada and the US. Canada seems to feel some animosity towards the US and thinks that the US reciprocates when in fact the US never really thinks about Canada much less has any feelings one way or the other. In this metaphor, the war bloggers seem to be like Canada.
posted by willnot at 11:54 PM on April 26, 2002

[...]the war bloggers seem to be like Canada.

I doubt there exists a simile which could please them more.
posted by Opus Dark at 11:58 PM on April 26, 2002

Good God what a bunch of horse shit...where the fuck to begin is my question?

The original bloggers (they think) are the A-list.

I'm so tired of this. Really. A-List? Are you fucking serious? Webloggers, with no impact on anything but themselves and a few cult followers. And here we have SDB blathering, wishing to be one of them...He failed, BTW, because he was an arrogant jackass who couldn't see past his own selfish beliefs. So now he categorizes people, and immediately proclaims them as "wannabes". SHUT UP. Grow the fuck up and recognize that life is a bit more than a damn popularity contest.

(Much to the resentment of the A-list. I myself have been mentioned by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.)

Umm...arrogant jackass. Hmm, big surprise.

The result has been something of a guerrilla war to try to drive out the infidels, and with outright pleas for a moratorium on political discussions.

(You knew I had to paste this) He immediately draws upon a weakness, only apparent to him. Either he doesn't understand the situation, or immediately assumes we ignore politics for the sake of preservation of the A-List. It doesn't matter, because once again he puts himself into an ignorant corner. I consider this a shot at my credibility. You want to brawl? Start posting again...you still have a username.

(the A-list tends to extreme liberalism; if it was left to them, Nader would be President of the US now)

Cheap shot. Reminds me of a radio host who plays at 5:30 a.m.back over here. Incredibly conservative, and the listeners, at the hour, eat it up. (Examples include, "Liberals are the cause of the Middle East crisis, Liberals are narcissistic bastards who don't get it, blah blah, fucking blah) Bill Watterson said it best, "Most ignorance is willful."

Update 20020426: The participants at Metafilter react.

Ya'll get it, right? This is what this sorry excuse for a conservative wants. He wants us to discuss his idiocy. He wants the attention because he's got arrogance through the ass and zero confidence. What a joke. SDB, you're reading this and I love the attention. Take a look: Grow the fuck up.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:01 AM on April 27, 2002

willnot: as a Canadian, i beg to differ. Our slight animosity towards the US is not because we think they reciprocate, but precisely because the US never really thinks about Canada at all. it's an attention thing.
posted by juv3nal at 1:03 AM on April 27, 2002

Bluetrain: Take a chill pill.
posted by owillis at 1:18 AM on April 27, 2002

For someone who doesn't care about Metafilter, SDB sure does seem to care about Metafilter, doesn't he?

And I, for one, like Canada. And it's an insult to metaphorically imply that that warbloggers are like the great white neighbor to the north.
posted by crunchland at 1:48 AM on April 27, 2002

Is Stile like prototypical E/N? Or is it something different?

It's complicated. A quickie run-down:

E/N sites evolved very much independently of yet both similar and roughly parallel to weblogs. (Contrasting with the prime importance of links in the weblog world at the time, E/N sites typically contained an uneven slurry of anecdotal nonsense and comments on news.) There was a different set of "A-listers", of course, and there were different base demographics (belligerent teenage males aplenty), but similar patterns of growth, inter-site linking, etc. emerged.

Stile caused a schism of sorts in the E/N community. Some felt that putting porn and death up on one's site was a perfectly understandable thing to do and a simple progression of the E/N type; others felt that porn and death were off limits, and that no true self-respecting E/N site would resort to such tactics. At the time, this led to great machinations over "what is E/N?" and trying to classify whether certain characteristics made one "E/N" or "not E/N"; this is loosely analogous to the "what is or isn't a blog?" question mathowie alludes to above. (It was a Big Important Issue at the time, but almost nobody gives a damn anymore.)

So now, vexingly, the term "E/N" applies to two tangentially-related but decidedly distinct concepts. On the one hand, you have E/N as jcterminal describes it: Stile-clones, desperate for hits for hits' sake, posting anything titillating that will get a rise out of people. Meanwhile, the term also applies to a superset of sites, most of which are nigh-indistinguishable from modern weblogs but which still somewhat fly beneath the E/N banner. (Which leads to the same sort of confusion that arises around ambiguous political terms on MeFi, which leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, which leads to people like me typing out explanations like this time and again.)

posted by youhas at 3:17 AM on April 27, 2002

I think bluetrain has a point. The fact that SDB seems to rehash the same Sweet Valley Twins-ish dynamics over and again (imagined resentments, intrigues and whatnot -- pshaw) characterizes him, and his arguments, as neurotic more than anything else. Maybe we should start referring to him as OCD.

Actually, let's ignore him till he shrinks to nothing.
posted by donkeyschlong at 4:59 AM on April 27, 2002

Hey, wouldn't it be funny if this entire thing had been written to give SDB the traffic and discussion he's always been accused of resenting the "A-list" for getting, right here in MeTa? I mean, every time someone writes the most minor article on bloggin, it seems everyone on the planet links to it and jabbers on about how the writer's an idiot. Hahahaha...Um...I'll be over here in my corner.

and...this was proposed long long ago.
posted by Su at 5:27 AM on April 27, 2002

"You know, boys, a good captain needs abilities like boldness, daring and a good velour uniform..."

''I find the most erotic part of a woman are the boobies''

Hey, thanks clavdivs! You finally helped me put my finger on who SDB reminds me of...
posted by y2karl at 6:30 AM on April 27, 2002

Um ... does anyone here actually have traffic numbers for SDB vs any few random "A-List" first-wavers? I don't know anything about how many hits per day megnut or kottke or [insert name here] get, but SDB's getting between 4000-5000 hits per day now, and he is very much an A-lister in the warblogging community.
posted by aaron at 6:31 AM on April 27, 2002

I'm going to break with tradition and compliment Den Beste for the piece. It has a few groaners -- such as "(Much to the resentment of the A-list. I myself have been mentioned by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.)" -- but the evolutionary stroll through the weblogs is more interesting than 95 percent of the mainstream coverage of the topic.

His description of the A-list as a group "heavily into locating cool stuff on the web to link to, and to discussions of the potentiality of the web as a medium" is a good one. That's what MetaFilter felt like to me when I joined, and one of the things I have missed as it changed into a more general-interest news-oriented weblog over time.

To answer one of his questions, there is at least one technogeek cluster of weblogs centered on Scripting News. Dave Winer's weblog publishing tools have so many features for programmers they tend to attract a bunch of them, and there are probably 30-40 Radio Userland and Manila weblogs linking to each other and talking about common development interests. This community is characterized by a general lack of interest in web design -- most of the sites stick with a couple of available templates -- and a focus on the tools used to produce weblogs and exchange information with other blogs.
posted by rcade at 7:02 AM on April 27, 2002

I would really really like to see an actual graphical map of blog interlinkage, not unlike other 'maps of the internet' that have impressed me in the past, that I'm too lazy to find and link to right now but that I'm sure you've seen. I'm also sure a Very Smart Mathematical Person (paging at least half of EFT) would be able to make such a thing, particularly if that person had access to the blogdex databases, for example.

I think it would show that SDB is talking a wee bit of poop as a side-effect, but more importantly, it would make me go all squoodgy, as I get off on that sort of thing (not annoying SDB, pictures!)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:18 AM on April 27, 2002

And once the taxonomy of the weblogs is figured out based on clusters, then what? Can we start talking evolution? "Well class, as you can see, the What's New page from the Mosaic Era gave rise to the early weblogs, or wee-blogs, which originally lived in harmony with the prototypical E/N sites, the most common of which was the "stileopterus pornofilia". . . " Hmmmm, maybe its time for everyone to reread this. (replacing a-list with the in-vogue group of the minute)

posted by rodz at 7:29 AM on April 27, 2002

I think that Su's right, that article is clearly a whorish cry for attention. The writing technique is so simple, yet so effective...publish provocative crap, and wait for the reaction. That is especially true when it comes to anyone writing about blogging. Perhaps if people were more selective on what they linked to then people might be less inclined to ride this bandwagon.

That said, at least the article above was vaguely interesting. This piece of shit by contrast deserves the title of the most unoriginal piece of writing this year, yet it still got wide attention.

I don't object to people writing about blogging, but for christ sake can't they write something that adds to the existing body of thought. I don't know, something has got to give; this subject is becoming dullified by the endless flow of mindless dribble scribbled about it. Perhaps new leadership is needed.
posted by RobertLoch at 7:41 AM on April 27, 2002

Why the animosity toward SDB? He believes what he says and isn't afraid to say what he believes. Yes, he does tend to rant and rave and seems stuck on a rather narrow political track, and it's obvious that webpopularity and recognition mean a lot to him, but he is rather open and honest about that. While I don't particulary agree with his hawkish outlook on politics, I certainly admire Stevens ability to put forward his viewpoint; he is an abrasive bastard yes, but he is very smart and a great debater. In fact, he challenged the 'antiwar crowd' to a debate more than once and couldn't get any takers. It's obvious that SDB has invested a lot of ego in his weblife and wants to be a major player in a new guard of bloggers trying to displace the established 'A-list' folk...whether his quest for position will taint his ability to deliver a message remains to be seen; and when the 'war' is over or blogreaders tire of it SDB will need to move on to subject matter of another genre to keep, much less expand his readership/popularity/webpresence.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:01 AM on April 27, 2002

Maybe we should start referring to him as OCD.

Not nice. HILARIOUS, but not nice.
posted by rushmc at 8:18 AM on April 27, 2002

You answered your own question, Mack: "SDB has invested a lot of ego in his weblife and wants to be a major player in a new guard of bloggers trying to displace the established 'A-list' folk." It's such a dumb goal it invites derision.
posted by rcade at 8:20 AM on April 27, 2002

In fact, he challenged the 'antiwar crowd' to a debate more than once and couldn't get any takers.

*starts to rant about how wrong this is, can't be bothered, hopes someone else with more energy knocks this kite out of the sky, realizing all the while that talking about it is feeding the SDB ego even more, shakes operatic Shatnerian fist at the sky in frustration*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:20 AM on April 27, 2002

Business 2.0 made a very good point about content generation:

The entrepreneurial energy on the countercultural left that once kick-started hundreds of underground papers and rock stations during the 1960s seems to have gone on a permanent sullen retreat, taking up residence in college campuses, where it is leached off into countless programs catering to every constituency group and ideological order of race/gender/religious identity politics, postmodern/postcolonial theory, and culture-studies fandom ...

Basically correct, though I don't think we're on "permanent sullen retreat" like Business 2.0 says. I think there are lots of people like me who intended to devote our lives to cultural pursuits, who are suddenly finding it much more difficult to pay the bills with part-time or working class jobs outside the university's supportive infrastructure. (Techies like SDB have been early adopters of blogging not only because they have access to computers, but also because they get paid enough when they work to schedule free time for blogging. The tech job funding model probably influences the character of what gets put in blogs-- tech material and rants on emotionally-engaged topics like politics.)

Currently, the universities are one of the few institutions outside journalism with a business model designed to keep content generation alive in niche areas-- through access to ideas, books, proprietary databases, computing technology, and through rewarding independent intellectual initiative. I'm spotting quite a few literate blogs by professors and students, some general and others with a subject focus. One professional sector that fosters independent generation of general-interest content is law. Both lawblogs and Amazon.com reviews show evidence of the fact that attorneys and librarians can be some of our most prolific amateur writers.

Naturally there will always be independent content generation by fans and hobbyists, but these derivative blogs and fan materials will only occasionally reach the level of the works of actual artists and practitioners. If we really want the quality of our blogs and our cultural output to improve, perhaps we need to reconsider our values, and make time in our lives for developing skills and activities that are not business, health, or family.

Re: Start page-- The blog is an easy way to keep a file containing links and excerpts from what you've seen on the web. Blogs are a lot cheaper than products like AskSam with SurfSaver (an unstructured database), or BullsEye, which I used when it was still a free download.

posted by sheauga at 8:37 AM on April 27, 2002

"SDB has invested a lot of ego in his weblife and wants to be a major player in a new guard of bloggers trying to displace the established 'A-list' folk."

How is this possible if the warblogging community is essentially separate from the "first wave" blogging community, as SDB himself, and so many above in this thread, have argued? Blogging is not a zero-sum game. In order for a SDB to have a hit, Megnut does not have to lose one. Thus, there can be no displacement, unless the first-wavers are atrophying of their own accord. And if they are, that's not the warbloggers' fault.

I just do NOT understand the animosity here in this thread, or between "first-wavers" and warbloggers in general. If they're discussing completely different things, why should first-wavers give a shit about the hit counts and other successes of the warbloggers, any more than the local senior citizens' crochet club should should get all worked up about what the canasta players are doing? The only possible answers I can think of are the ones SDB hypothesized: the political differences, jealousy that the media spotlight has moved from the first-wavers to the warbloggers, and/or jealousy that some of the warbloggers are getting more hit than most of the first-wavers ever did.

(I do realize that a lot of warbloggers have some major ego problems, and tend to falsely believe they invented a lot of things that others invented long ago, which naturally pisses off Those That Came Before. But then, the same can be said of a lot of first-wavers too.)
posted by aaron at 8:56 AM on April 27, 2002

i'm starting to realize the word 'warblogger' loosens my bowels.
posted by jcterminal at 9:00 AM on April 27, 2002

why should first-wavers give a shit about the hit counts and other successes of the warbloggers

I don't think they do, but they are constantly being told that they (a) resent the success of warblogs, (b) hate warblogs for political reasons, (c) envy the media attention warblogs are getting, blah blah blah. How would you like to be constantly used as a straw man so the warblog crowd can be even more self-congratulatory about themselves?
posted by rcade at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2002

I don't think they do...

Oh, I definitely think it goes both ways. I don't deny for a second that the collective self-aggrandizment and egotism of the warblogging community is so massive that sometimes it makes even looking at their pages almost unbearable. But at the same time, I've seen plenty of first-wavers taking their own potshots at the warbloggers without being provoked first. This little bitch-slapping fest isn't a one-way thing.
posted by aaron at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2002

Adding to what rcade just said, one very annoying part of the general present media coverage is that it often implies that blogging only recently started, and that it did so on the back of warbloggers. I don't care either way, it just annoys me to see repetitive inaccurate templated articles spewing out of mainstream media.
posted by RobertLoch at 9:13 AM on April 27, 2002

Well, that doesn't differ from how the media covers any other topic under the sun.

(Whether that's a statement in the media's defense or a condemnation, I'm not sure.)
posted by aaron at 9:16 AM on April 27, 2002

I just do NOT understand the animosity here in this thread, or between "first-wavers" and warbloggers in general.

I think I stated all my problems with the article plainly, without resorting to straight out SDB bashing, but I think the way you posed this question is precisely what irks me about a lot of stuff in SBD's article, and by extension, stuff I see from the warblog community: that everything is a us vs. them battle over either/or issues.

I know that humans categorize the things in life, that's how the human brain works, it finds patterns and uses those patterns to make future decisions, but I don't like being labelled "A" and told others are "B" and that "A" hates "B" because they take "opposite positions on a single issue."

People aren't binary switches, you can't say that all right-leaning sites belong in the warblog pile, while all left-leaning ones belong in a different pile, but that's the type of arguments I'm hearing. People like SDB are putting these groupings on others and attributing their criteria on simplistic terms that I don't think are accurate or begin to tell the whole story.

If you want to know why megnut might have disliked a washington post article about warblogs, you'll have to ask her. If you want to know why kottke hated the business 2.0 piece, send him an email. I don't think it has anything to do with jealousy or politics, and a lot more to do with lazy journalism and poor writing on the parts of the publications.

I would say the same thing about any article written about weblogs in the year 2000. They rarely say anything interesting, they cover the same 3 blogs du jour, and the worst offense is almost always trying to sum up the great thing about weblogs to a general audience with One Point. Each journalist seemed to pick their One Point to weblogging differently, and you saw things like articles about how weblogs are great because you can: 1) get hits - oooh big fucking deal 2) get laid - if you meet others through your site, all of weblogging is some sort of dating application, or 3) get popular - again, another unimportant thing to shoot for, as if anyone gunning for popularity ever seems genuine. For the current crop of lazy blog journalism, tack on 4) make money with your blog through donations.

What's the great thing about weblogs the public should know? Probably that they can do a lot of nebulous good things, including all of the above plus many more, but seldom does a newspaper article ever seek to present more than one simple tiny point for the reader, and *that* is why most of all weblogkind hates mainstream articles about their subject.

If they're discussing completely different things, why should first-wavers give a shit about the hit counts and other successes of the warbloggers, any more than the local senior citizens' crochet club should should get all worked up about what the canasta players are doing?

What rcade said above. I really, honestly, really, really, really don't care how many hits anyone gets. I don't know how many my personal site gets because I don't bother measuring it. It's my personal site and I do it for myself. Now, I don't think those that measure their stats have less noble intentions, but I don't know many people that place importance on traffic. Measuring traffic is a nice barometer of readership, but not something I'd hinge my personal hapiness on ever.

When you see article after article mention actual hit totals, I think you can actually hear the sound of everyone's eyes collectively rolling back into their heads. I don't care if megnut got 20,000 visits a day in 2000 or if andrew sullivan gets 50,000 a day next week. It's part of that lazy journalism thing, where the big reason to blog is presented as a way to get thousands of people to read your site, which isn't a very good motivation (if someone started a site with the sole intention of getting traffic, their content would certainly reflect that and be sub-par if not completely phony), and at best is one teeny tiny aspect of the benefits of having a weblog.

The only possible answers I can think of are the ones SDB hypothesized: the political differences, jealousy that the media spotlight has moved from the first-wavers to the warbloggers, and/or jealousy that some of the warbloggers are getting more hit than most of the first-wavers ever did.

I think I've explained why people don't like these articles and it has little to do with jealousy (please, show me one blog entry that is jealous of SDB getting a mention in the press), and it's not simply politics.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:47 AM on April 27, 2002

aaron: I easily can think of an explanation for the animosity in this thead (that specifically directed at Steven, that is; the warblogger vs. first-wave-blogger thing is no different from the first-wave-blogger vs. journaller thing of a couple years ago, and it was tired then), that has nothing to do with jealousy or politics at all. It has to do with Steven's rather unpretty history here on MetaFilter.

I'm glad he's finally found the attention and success he has craved---it means I don't have to watch him striving for it here on MeFi any longer. But I never think of him as "that 'warblogging' guy who has 'been mentioned by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal'" but rather as "that guy who made a real ass of himself on MeFi over and over and over again, before he'd ever so much as registered his own domain."

I'm sure there are people who disagree with his argument on the face of it, but understand that for some here on MeFi, there's a context to the animosity. That's all.
posted by Sapphireblue at 9:57 AM on April 27, 2002

'Well, that doesn't differ from how the media covers any other topic under the sun. '

The possible distinction is that the media is kind of commenting on itself. If a journalist writes something on blogging but only highlights blogs written by other journalists, and those blogs in turn just comment on media writing, then there has got to be something wrong with that, hasn't there? It is just too lovey dovey. Remember journalist blogs make up exactly 0.014% of the blogging world, but often achieve 96.3% of total referencing in a blog article. That said, it is equally annoying to read an article with the same 5-10 A-List non journalist blogs mentioned....not because they don't deserve to be highlighted...just that it would be nice to have some variety. My main gripe I suppose stems from the lack of originality. Over the last 6 month it appears that the same article, or perhaps 2 different articles have been rehashed about 50 times each.
posted by RobertLoch at 10:00 AM on April 27, 2002

Robert, I agree with you completely in your latest post. Sapphire, you too.

please, show me one blog entry that is jealous of SDB getting a mention in the press

I wasn't talking about SDB specifically when I made that comment. It was a general - yes - us-vs-them statement.

I respect your opinion Matt, and fully admit that the world has a lot of shades of grey. But IMHO those shades are somewhat of a minority between a lot of black-and-white. (Consider, for example, the political axiom that 40% of the electorate will always vote Republican, and 40% will always vote Democratic, so it's that 20% of grey in the middle that usually ends up deciding who wins elections. But in the end, it's still 20% of grey vs 80% of pure black-and-white, us-vs-them, either/or.) The generalities really do exist, in general. And thus I don't think it's wrong to discuss things in those terms. I also think we're all intelligent enough here to realize that the grey areas exist, even when speaking in generalities. I know there are left-wing warblogs and right-wing "first-wavers." So does everyone else. But I don't think we should be precluded from discussing the generalities of the situation at all merely because exceptions exist, so long as we don't pretend they don't exist.
posted by aaron at 10:15 AM on April 27, 2002

I get around sixty hits a day, but I'm still A-list. So it really doesn't matter how many visit your site.

I am of course delusional ...

That the same webloggers get mention time and again shouldn't be too much of surprise. In other areas of the creative industries keep cropping up. Madonna. Beckham. Roberts. Cruise. Pratchett. Grisham. It gives people something to hang onto. They're brands. So are these webloggers.

But they also introduce new readers to weblogs and if they like what they see they'll be following those links on the side ...
posted by feelinglistless at 10:54 AM on April 27, 2002

aaron, you can discuss generalities all you want, but know that you'll be wrong often, as I see plenty of exceptions to the rule and the nature of the beast is that there is a lot more things in common than not with any weblog. Even if almost all warbloggers are right wing, and almost all "a-list" bloggers are left wing, I don't think that is a reliable basis for judging why they might not get along, and things are multifaceted, you have personality conflicts apart of politics, you have weird sorts of competition among people, vast differences in attitudes and how people interact.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2002

The A-list and the warbloggers are just the bloggers who are easy to promote to the general public. Since random surfing yields lots of personal diaries by the texter generation, it's tempting to conclude that's all that's out there. I'm still baffled as to why Rantburg, the day-by-day "who shot John" approach to the war on terror, written by a former govt. analyst, doesn't get included in mentions of warblogs. People seem far more interested in opinions and proving they're right than they do in the actual facts-- perhaps because the folks involved aren't called "John!" They have complicated Arabic and Pashtun names, and it would take too much time and effort to figure out what's what.

Rantburg is an example of another perfectly valid approach to weblogging-- the old fashioned process of annotation and Socratic dialogue. Like another blogger said, "Passages between plagiarisms are editorial comments to provoke discussion."

One concern I have when I read these articles about A-listers, warbloggers, right-vs.-left, and the same small selection of sites, is that they may be laying the groundwork for the suppression of independently generated content that doesn't fit neatly into their little categories.

As a professional indexer, I find it interesting that some bloggers group their links to other blogs by "how often to read this-- daily, weekly, once in a while," or by adding descriptive adjectives describing personal associations and reactions: "saucy, linkalicious, dessert, mainstay, reddish-purple." (My own list of blogs is a big, alphabetical list, because I don't know yet what categories are going to be useful to me. My list does not lack originality, or browsing links to stimulating materials, but it does lack the coherence which would make it instantly useful to a general audience.)

The weblog is a new genre, and it has possibilties that we haven't explored yet. It's especially interesting to see all the weblog experiments on how to disseminate information informally, through links and networks of common interest. Blog tools like Wander-Lust and Blog Hop may be only the beginning of new networked publicity and dissemination tools. With access to ISP logs, it may become possible to examine every piece of information from the "need to know" perspective, determining who originated it and how it spread. Could this incredible new capacity for information-tracking serve any useful purpose besides helping law enforcement thwart terrorist activities? Nobody knows yet. Could information tracking be another option for keeping information out of the wrong hands, that doesn't involve human censors, or technically blocking access at the network / user levels? Quite possibly, because every discrete bit of information acquires its own "knowledgeable community." You get access to linked information that's not in any search engine only by having a personal introduction, from another linker, and joining the "knowledeable community." Will this get complicated when we start assigning digital rights at ever finer levels of granularity, at ever more complex levels of aggregation, and add streaming video? You bet it will be complicated. It will take a lot of human attention span to decide where the costs get recovered, what networks of people want access to what, how to retrieve what's useful. There's a lot of untapped potential for using weblogs for personal, organizational, educational, and business purposes. It's way too early to say "here's the right way to do it!

I rather like the homegrown hybrid weblog / personal news portal approach, although some of these sites would make designers cringe:

A homegrown front page for finding news,
"Mario Profaca's Cyberspace Station - The Global News Portal"
Skepticon News Portal / SkeptiNews
"Do drugged conspiratorialists waste perfectly good solar energy by plotting in the dark? Should they swim in medicated rivers? Would anyone notice? No?"
(Is SkeptiNews a nutcase? Possibly. However, at least he / she recognizes that reactor embrittlement is a significant issue-- although the technical conclusions provided are somewhat off.)

One somewhat unexpected development from participating here is that I generated material to put up some blogged pages of my own, and got the leads on how to blog without spending money. A less frustrating way to engage with SDB might be to regard him as someone who has simply spun off from MeFi to write his own material-- a natural development process. I bet a lot of other people are going to have the same experience, of lurking on MetaFilter and finding this is an incubator site which gets its participants up and running to the point where they can put up their own blogs.
posted by sheauga at 11:15 AM on April 27, 2002

Robertloch: "Perhaps new leadership is needed."

Join me in the glorious uprising, the revolution has already begun...
posted by owillis at 11:18 AM on April 27, 2002

Can somebody point me to some evidence of the feud between the old school and the warbloggers? I read a lot of weblogs every day, but somehow I seem to have missed this.
posted by jjg at 12:18 PM on April 27, 2002

after an analysis on this whole debate, i've concluded that all of you, warbloggers, a-listers, e/n'ers, and especially SDB, are just jealous of my rock-stardom (Much to the resentment of all of the above parties. I myself have been mentioned by two or three people.). don't bother with apologies or praise (I receive my share of these.). though i'm sure you're all great writers and bloggers (This is obviously a generalization and this opinion is not held universally, by any means.), it was inevitable that you'd envy my success and popularity...

playa haters....
posted by lotsofno at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2002

i'm starting to realize the word 'warblogger' loosens my bowels.

The Pentagon has been working on that word for decades as a non-lethal means of crowd control.
posted by kindall at 2:17 PM on April 27, 2002

jjg: An interesting summation is here
posted by owillis at 2:23 PM on April 27, 2002

Full of Bullshit Nation seems a more apt title to me--but I'm not a blogger anyway. More politely, what was it riviera said? opinion larded upon opinion... Something like that. Or maybe the Grand Poobah Lodge of the Secretaries of State and Defense and Ax Grinders in General. You've got mail...from Donald Rumsfeld! Steven, give me your analysis of the situation in Oman--where should we site the air traffic control centers?
As mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. Hey, Emo got mentioned there once, too--also, Bozo The Clown. For real.
posted by y2karl at 2:37 PM on April 27, 2002

Nick Denton: “[T]hen James Wolcott writes a piece in Business 2.0 that pretty much ignores weblogs before the warbloggers.”

Are you kidding me? All this animosity goes back to James fucking Wolcott? You may commence summarily dismissing him and reunite under a banner of love.

He’s not even remotely worth it.
posted by raaka at 2:55 PM on April 27, 2002

Duh. Everyone knows that the photo-blog cluster is the true nexus of power.
posted by davidfg at 3:18 PM on April 27, 2002

sapphireblue: "that guy who made a real ass of himself on MeFi over and over and over again..."

Although I can only really speak for myself, I think that statement covers just about everyone here.
posted by crunchland at 3:19 PM on April 27, 2002

raaka, so you're suggesting we kill the messenger, instead of addressing the message?
posted by BlueTrain at 3:37 PM on April 27, 2002

d'oh! call me a hypocrite. carry on...
posted by BlueTrain at 3:38 PM on April 27, 2002

heh. touche, crunch. as with everything, some are better at it than others.
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:04 PM on April 27, 2002

People aren't binary switches, you can't say that all right-leaning sites belong in the warblog pile, while all left-leaning ones belong in a different pile, but that's the type of arguments I'm hearing.

SDB, for one, seemed to go to great lengths to avoid saying that. He made a point of saying several times that he was painting with a very broad (and therefore inaccurate) brush. For example:

"What I'm describing are paradigms, the idealized center of the cluster. No-one is actually standing on that precise point." (emphasis mine).
posted by gd779 at 5:01 PM on April 27, 2002

I dunno, I've never been a big fan of Steven's style, but I don't see why it's an issue here. The first part of his piece (the clustering part) seems so obvious as to be hardly worth saying, and the second part (the disagreements part) seems so obviously a matter of perspective as to be hardly worth caring about.
posted by rodii at 6:02 PM on April 27, 2002

jjg- Richard Bennett has some snarky things to say about the points raised by Nick Denton (already linked by owillis a few comments up). While he's at it, Bennett snarks our own Matt Haughey and Rebecca Blood, as well as Winer, Searls, Kottke etc. Talk about putting webloggers into clusters...

More about the 9/11 blog book project--which stirred up this warblogger-vs.-"Font Kiddiez" (as Bennett dubs them) debate--can be found here.

posted by StOne at 12:27 AM on April 28, 2002

Took a shot at Bennett in the comments to his post — I thought he was warping the facts to fit a largely ad hominem argument.

Warbloggers accuse the { SF web people / "font kiddiez" } of being allergic to argument, but why do so many of them in turn have to be so personally nasty?
posted by mcwetboy at 5:54 AM on April 28, 2002

I have no idea about Bennett and his style, having never read anything of his before today. I couldn't help but think that his attacks on Kottke et al were just attempts to cash in, hit-wise, by creating controversy out of air. Very little substance there, aside from namecalling.
posted by crunchland at 7:16 AM on April 28, 2002

Warbloggers may be inciting conflict with the A-list/SF crowd/font kiddiez as an exercise in self-definition. Also, I think they enjoy stirring the pot in general, and baiting us (A-list/MeFi) in particular. I think from here on in, MetaFilter and the A-list are going to be the warbloggers' straw men. Do your best to wear it with pride. I'm somewhat mystified -- the conflict seems quite artificial. What to do about it?
posted by mcwetboy at 7:27 AM on April 28, 2002

Well, as long as MeFites go for the bait, MeFi's gonna be baited. I read a lot of warblogs, but I've never even heard of Bennett's blog until just now. Yet since stOne posted the link to Bennett's snarkfest - a posting that's a week old and had no comments at all - three MeFites have already been over there posting responses. And that's on an early Sunday morning; if it were Tuesday afternoon, there'd probably be twenty posts there already.

The conflict is not artificial, though. There have been nonsequiter attacks on warbloggers here (and, more importantly, the average warbloggers' values) more than once. It's a two-way street, even if the warbloggers have three lanes of heavy traffic coming in MeFi's direction and MeFi's only got one lane heading towards them.
posted by aaron at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2002

But the Font Kiddiez have spent an awful lot of time and energy proclaiming the fiction that they invented weg logs

Heh. He said weg log.

What the hell is a font kiddie? I'm assuming anyone who uses or collects fonts is a wimp? Or perhaps he's referring to the fact that one (that I know of) of the SF crowd has made a font - apparently a frivolous endeavor, or just something else he can scorn. I don't see how font kiddiez is much of an insult either way. He seems to make a habit of insulting and annoying people, judging by his weglog.

God I love the web. It really is amazing - if we knew this guy people in RL a lot of us would cross the street to avoid talking to him, yet on the web he has a voice just like the rest of us. Reading this kind of tripe reminds me of just how much I love the web, because it makes the good stuff so much better by comparison.
posted by iconomy at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2002

This tripe is as if all the members of the Toyota Land Cruiser Clubs of America had nothing better to do than concoct inane theories about why they're cooler than those lame-ass Range Rover drivers, or whatever.

By that measure, they have the warbloggers' asses kicked -- instead of navel gazing they at least get out of the house and do something truly worthwhile, like driving over piles of dirt.
posted by mattpfeff at 9:22 AM on April 28, 2002

You mentioning navel gazing reminds me - Omphalos, the name of his weglog, means navel in Greek ;)
posted by iconomy at 10:45 AM on April 28, 2002

Aren't people being a bit unfair to Steven Den Beste, the MetaFilter poster, as opposed to the author of this lazily written article, posited as it is on a false dichotomy? I remember him as being an intelligent, always interesting contributor, sticking up for his(admittedly unpopular)ideas and willing to argue them through with anyone who would take him on.

He was half-conned into starting his own blog, because some people found he was domineering and agenda-driven; pushy even. So now he's made it on his own. He put his money where his mouth was and print-journalists, notoriously loth to credit anyone on the Web, are paying attention to him. Good for him - and the best of luck to him too. I miss his good links, his courageous stands and his dedication to MetaFilter. Something has been lost. That's all.

Which is quite a bit.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:06 AM on April 28, 2002

I remember him as ... willing to argue them through with anyone who would take him on

I would change the gerund slightly: try insistent upon. SDB always reminded me of Ali; the neverending self-promotion, the constant demand that anyone within shouting distance acknowledge his supremacy. Unfortunately for Steven, conversation is not a zero-sum game - knocking me out does not translate to a win for you. And pretty soon you run out of people willing to be knocked out for your self-aggrandizement.

Also, "his courageous stands and his dedication to MetaFilter" - utter bushwa. Dedication to the proposition that his views are correct and failure to enter the ring to fight them is equivalent to acknowledgement of their superiority. When it was pointed out (repeatedly) that the fact that we don't feel like fighting does not imply that we worship him on little altars in our homes, he stopped coming around.
posted by gleuschk at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2002

I agree with the insistent upon, gleuschk. And your last, important point - and SDB's stubbornness - is well put and true. But, as I remember it, towards the end, because of this attitude, just about everyone refused to take him on. I recall a time when he actually complained nobody wanted to argue with him about anything.

I don't think any of this affects the fact that he was an honest, courageous poster who stuck up for his opinions and that it's at least inelegant, in his absence, to now say he was always insufferable in some way. He wasn't.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:41 AM on April 28, 2002

P.S. I never liked him; there was something undefinably unlikeable about him - so perhaps that's why it seems crude to diminish his worth.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:45 AM on April 28, 2002

I enjoyed SDB's prose style, even though I rarely agreed with him. He provided a consistent stream of material which greatly improved the overall level of writing here! When someone with a strong voice begins to dominate a conversation, MetaFilter has no prohibition on switching the subject and posting from our own personal perspectives. Vociferous posters only set the agenda if the rest of us let them.
posted by sheauga at 11:56 AM on April 28, 2002

What the hell is a font kiddie?

I'm guessing that he's referring, in a contemptuous manner, to their background in design (Photoshop, etc.), and implying that they're more interested in a page's layout than in its content.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:15 PM on April 28, 2002

I think "font kiddy" is just a snarky term to point out that the majority of "first-wavers" are/were web designers, either professional or amateur ... or at least that history has portrayed them as such. I don't think he was making a statement about the actual content of the pages.
posted by aaron at 12:21 PM on April 28, 2002

Steven was a master at giving the impression of knowing everything, but on the few topics where we met squarely I found his erudition to be a mile wide and an inch deep. He is a familiar type on the net, the perfect autodidact, cranky, defensive and oblivious to the fact that his insights are old news to people with some background in the area he's thinking about. (Like the present case--social networks are not news to sociology undergraduates.) I think he tended to rely on bluster, appeals to authority and sheer fucking doggedness far more than anyone interested in real debate ought to. But he's definitely not unique in that.
posted by rodii at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2002

'Can somebody point me to some evidence of the feud between the old school and the warbloggers?'

WarLog: World War III 'On this warblogger thing. I don't get my knickers in knots about the word. No, everything here isn't about war. But that did inspire me to start. I had followed blogging for ages; I got my company to invest in Blogger; I have my blogging stripes. But I didn't blog because I didn't have anything to say... until 9.11 and then I had much I had to say. That started the addiction. I have no problem with acknowledging that genesis. Call me a warblogger or blogger or just an ass; I don't much care. I'll write about what I want to write about without editors; that's the joy of this, isn't it?'

I'd agree :-) It is great to read commentary by informed individuals free of the editorial leash. To my mind some of the best examples of blogging have grown from some form of controversy or other. Be it Dan Gillmor's relentless pursuit of Microsoft, Ken Layne shining a light on the Saudi hypocrisy, or more recently Oliver Travis's excellent coverage of French politics.
posted by RobertLoch at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2002

From the examples linked to here, it seems to me that some of the "warbloggers" are in fact engaging in the same behaviour that they've perceived and resented in the "A-List". Clique-y, inbred, unsupportive of outside voices, enjoying the media spotlight... it's telling that the self-proclaimed "new regime" of webloggers have chosen to emulate and even further expand upon the behaviour that made them all so bitter in the first place. Four legs good, two legs better.
posted by jess at 2:03 PM on April 28, 2002

A few unrelated comments:

-If I understand correctly - 'A-list' consists of a few individuals. That's can't be considered a category in itself.

-I dont think there is any benefit in analyzing the anymosities threadbare. It can only get more and more petty. Jealousy, envy etc. are of course part of the human make-up. If some people do feel jealous/frustrated/angry because they feel they are not being given the credit they feel they deserve /because they feel shunned/ridiculed etc. that is also totally normal. Happens in life everyday. No big deal. I mean, who really cares who is jealous of whom for what reason?

- Really enjoyed reading Sheuga's comments. Further to her comment about independent content generation: I strongly feel that someday everyone has to wake up to the fact that creating good content for the web costs time and therefore money. Someone has to underwrite it. People are becoming aware of the fact that there is no freeride. But so far as content goes, there is still a long way to go ..

-Re: Matt's comment on popularity of weblogs: I admire that he doesnt look at his page stats. But I think that the majority of people (including me) do look at page stats. I can say with conviction that I dont feel hassled that there are many other who get so much more traffic. I do my thing. They do their. But I do look at my stats regularly. I do feel a small leap of joy when I realize that a slightly higher number of people have been reading it. Dont get me wrong. I write for myself. But what is the point of publishing it if no one other than me reads it? That is normal too.
posted by justlooking at 2:34 PM on April 28, 2002

Oops. In previous post: anymosities=animosities. looked a little too glaring out there ...
posted by justlooking at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2002

I examine my referrer logs and notice when new people link to one of my sites, but the number of hits I get to it and the rest of my sites is pretty irrelevant, so I don't really check them at all.
posted by crunchland at 4:00 PM on April 28, 2002

Swaying off topic...I pinballed around blogville today...lotsa turds...a few shiny things...some parallax phenomena...from a contemptible, mocking perspective, is there like a clearinghouse (www.blogsnark.com?) wherein blog boogers are collected and rolled into flickable form?
posted by Opus Dark at 4:04 PM on April 28, 2002

These groupings of subjects and like-minded people are not some failing of the ideal structure of the Internet as Den Beste implies. The Internet could never have usefully been an evenly distributed network of links, because such a structure would lack the context to make it useable. Every page would have to have a random collection of links that had very little to do with both its own topic and each other. When you're on a page about fishing, most of the links leaving that page are about fishing, and maybe one or two are something different. I suppose you could use this to claim that different groups of sites (and if you're talking about weblogs, which are closely tied to the personality of the person behind them, different groups of people) have formed into sub-communities in the web as a whole, and sub-sub-communities in the weblog sub-community in specific (the whole structure is rather fractal), but these subdivisions are based on soft associations and not hard two-way correlations, so it's almost impossible to make a decently accurate generalization.

That in itself may be one of the differences between the "warblog" crowd and the others. The "A-List" name was not chosen by the people supposedly in it, at least not to my knowledge. The "old-guard" name seems like it was made up on the spot to cover people who came before. However, it seems to me that the "warblog" crowd has, perhaps not given the name to themselves (I don't know), but at least enthusiastically embraced it, which creates a much stronger bond between them as a community than exists in most other (if not all other) weblog communities. So the conflict is kind of like the Romans versus the Germanic tribes, if you'll kindly not take my analogy too far. One side has a structure, the other just groups together when they feel threatened. Or something.

posted by Nothing at 4:05 PM on April 28, 2002

I would really really like to see an actual graphical map of blog interlinkage, not unlike other 'maps of the internet' that have impressed me in the past, that I'm too lazy to find and link to right now but that I'm sure you've seen. I'm also sure a Very Smart Mathematical Person (paging at least half of EFT) would be able to make such a thing, particularly if that person had access to the blogdex databases, for example.

Here's a way to get an even better map, never mind who they point to, this is who google says they're related to, which turns out to be even more interesting, imho.


posted by davewiner at 5:50 PM on April 28, 2002

All of this "I'm more popular than you" or "You're more popular than me, waaah" stuff is nothing more than typical high school level mental masturbation. That's just the way it is. To my horror, I have found over and over again that there is no escape from the high school mentality, as this thread proves.

Maybe it's time for all of us to step away from the keyboard and live a little.

Who knows? It might even be good for us.

On an unrelated note I think feelinglistless might be up to something about weblog branding.

Some ideas for sucessful weblog branding:

1. Complain endlessly about the "A-list", whoever they happen to be at the moment.

2. Complain endlessly about how unappreciated your weblog is.

3. Pick fights with and/or slander more popular webloggers.

4. Metalog. Metalog. Metalog. Never link to original stuff; be sure only to link to stuff that other popular webloggers have already linked.

5. Make lots of unsubstantiated and/or absurd claims about certain personal/political groups; i.e. pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-left, pro-right, whatever. Pissing off reasonable people will get you linked.

6. Constantly suck up to more popular webloggers.

Have I forgotten anything?
posted by mark13 at 6:53 PM on April 28, 2002

Would the warbloggers be reading this book if they weren't writing it?
posted by NortonDC at 7:26 PM on April 28, 2002

All those warbloggers are just trying to horn in on my schitck.
posted by mikewas at 11:34 AM on April 29, 2002

I might add that I'd never heard of Richard Bennett either until I ran across his weblog a few days ago. Maybe he's driven by the same frustration about not getting as much attention as the newer arrivals. But I do like his writing better than Captain Clueless'.

...from a contemptible, mocking perspective, is there like a clearinghouse (www.blogsnark.com?) wherein blog boogers are collected and rolled into flickable form?

Odd--I clicked on a textad on the front page earlier today for blogonblog, which promised snarky commentary on weblogs. But there wasn't much content and it was all a month old. Personally, I like the occasional squabbles that erupt in the 'blogging "community," as it's such a refreshing change of pace from the oft-cited metaphor of the circle-jerk. (I think if one 'blogger disses another, maybe it should be termed a "reacharound.")

The bigger they (webloggers and their egos) are, the harder they fall.

The Mideast thing is drawing battle lines among webloggers as well as on MeFi, I've noticed--even Winer chimed in with an essay on Ariel Sharon lately and is probably taking heat for that which makes winerlog look like a Dave fan site by comparison. A lot of webloggers with no interest in warblogging still sometimes can't help offering their own tuppence-worth on the situation, and boom, it explodes into real ugliness...and what goes on in MeFi Mideast threads and MeTa threads about same has nothing on the 'blogger crosstalk.
posted by StOne at 1:33 PM on April 29, 2002

One of us is unclear on what a 'reacharound' is, St0ne, but I must admit I'm hesistant to explore the topic further...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:24 PM on April 29, 2002

::wildly off topic::

I don't get how the whole start page turned into blogging.

someone said something about the weblog itself being an ongoing "favorites" list, but equally important would be the "blogroll" (god how I hate words that come from weblog!) or sidebar, because those are supposedly the sites that one visits frequently or every day...often divided into categories.

and according to the AP style guide, Web should always be capitalized as a proper noun, as should the Internet. grates my teeth to do it, though.
posted by epersonae at 3:58 PM on April 29, 2002

(Doesn't the AP style guide also recommend capitalizing at the beginning of a sentence? I mean, if you don't care about that (and why should you?), why worry about capitalizing "Web"?)

Good point about the blogroll (ick) or frequently-visited-sites list (not always blogs). It may not be a defining characteristic of weblogs, but it's certainly a commonly, almost universally associated feature, and perhaps one of those things that has tended to break along the weblog/diary faultline.
posted by rodii at 6:01 PM on April 29, 2002

Damn, Rodii. Just going around calling everybody out tonight? *grin*

Screw the AP. Unless I'm getting paid for it, nobody's telling me how to write. I've got so many quirks in my writing, it's real effort to do it "properly" now.
posted by Su at 7:41 PM on April 29, 2002

Damn, Rodii. Just going around calling everybody out tonight? *grin*


Screw the AP.

I thought that's what I was saying!
posted by rodii at 8:14 PM on April 29, 2002

stavros, I learned "reacharound" from R. Lee Ermey haraunging those recruits in Full Metal Jacket. So, if I've used it improperly, d'uh on me. (I meant, snarking a weblogger without linking to them.)

posted by StOne at 8:22 PM on April 29, 2002

well, obviously I'm not using AP style in my personal writing. :) as if!

but I do have to use AP style for work, alas. so it grates my teeth when it must be done.

I get my revenge by refusing to capitalize sentences at MeFi!
posted by epersonae at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2002

« Older behavior in obitfilter   |   seethru.co.uk is closing down Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments