Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Echo Chamber  

After you've been bouncing around weblogs for a while, you start to notice that there's an awful lot of echo (echo... echo...) in the blogosphere. (sphere... sphere...) In fact, sometimes it's downright annoying to see a dozen different posts on the same subject. What ever happened to diversity? Or sticking to what you know, rather than floating wild-assed guesses and making inane comments about something you know very little about?

Sure, people do that a lot in their everyday conversation. And blogs by their nature are going to reflect that. Believe me, I have no illusions of anything changing. And it's not just blogs -- 24 hour news channels, news magazines, and tabloids all suffer from the same effect.

Personally, I find it a lot more interesting when someone speaks with authority about their field of expertise, or talks about things that are decidedly off the bandwagon. That's why I keep tabs on Iraq via Juan Cole's Informed Comment, look for interesting and solid investigative reporting at Salon, geek out with Daring Fireball, and occasionally check for updates on below-the-media world events through Soj's excellent Flogging the Simian.

Linking and bandwagoneering has its place, certainly. It can provide a lot of ready detail and perspective on whatever topics are being attacked by the bandwagon at the moment. However, it can also serve as a distraction from other topics. After a certain point, the information content of each additional link starts to decrease, until the additional links are more noise than signal.

The more interesting thing to me is increasing the diversity of topics, which you get from people who post original articles with meaningful content. And in the long run, I think that's going to be what the Internet is really all about. Original content will be the pearls that people seek out in the ocean of information -- or more colloquially, the bucket of shit -- that is the 'net.

And that's my take on blogging in a nutshell: Be the pearl, not the shit.

'Nuff said.