Dave Winer believes the end is near for blogging as we know it (or knew it? sorry if I’ve misinterpreted, Dave), and Mark Evans feels there isn’t much original thought out there. These are two people I know, like, and respect, and two people I’m in complete disagreement with. First of all, there’s tons of good, nay, great blogging out there. A small fraction of it makes it to TechMeme. By the way, I’d recommend reading Ed Bott’s thoughts on the blogosphere, which seems to have kicked this whole thread off (good on ya, Ed!).
If I can make the analogy, think of the movie industry. There’s a lot of creative, original movies being made every year. Most of them don’t air at the uberplex, and the typical Blockbuster employee won’t recommend them to you. Sometimes they “bubble up” like Little Miss Sunshine did last year (overrated by the way, but that’s not the point), or Sideways a few years back. But if you read the mainstream reviews and movie sites, you have to deal with the Stiller-Wilson-Vaughn Theory (a modernization of the classic Caine-Hackman Theory).
TechMeme tracks “the conversation” and therefore is the worst agent possible for finding distinct, outlying content. This isn’t saying TechMeme is bad, it’s not, it’s very good at what it does. But now we are seeing a certain lament for the so-called 250, who appear to blog about an insular set of topics. Well, let’s face it, a certain percentage of the incentive to blog is ego-driven, and it ranges from individual to individual. The more one wants power or fame, the more one is likely to want to be found on TechMeme. The more one wants to express individual, distinct thought, the less likely TechMeme acts as a motivator. Ask Robin Williams why he did Good Will Hunting, my hunch is it’ll help clarify things.
Several months ago I made the decision to rarely get involved with TechMeme topics (which this post is most clearly defying, ain’t it ironic?). It’s my feeling that there are enough other intelligent people out there getting into those “conversations” but the truth is, I started getting the feeling that they weren’t really conversations, they were more like discordant shouting matches (albeit occasionally polite ones). I feel it’s unlikely that I have many readers (other than my family) who follow my blog but are completely in the dark on these other “popular” topics. But more importantly, I just felt I wasn’t really blogging about things that inspired me as much as others.
I may not be in the 250. I may not have hundreds of thousands of readers subscribing to my feed. I don’t really know anymore, since I turned off all stats anyway. Want to find some different voices? Look for the bloggers who rarely make TechMeme, and subscribe to them, and take the time to read them regularly (here’s four to get you started: Frank Piller, Shawn Morton, Umair Haque, Tom Evslin – no offense to my other friends, I just wanted to pick some that don’t fall into the mainstream as often!) . Unsubscribe from “TechMeme Regulars” since it’s pretty likely you don’t need to read all their posts anyway. In other words, if you really want to find the indie films, you’re going to have to stop renting from Blockbuster.