velvet ropes and meaningless chatter


In his posting entitled "Influences," Mark Pilgrim writes:

Sure, once in a blue moon I offer some exclusive content--"30 days to a more accessible weblog", the occasional Python script--but day to day, the quality of my chatter is not any higher than the quality of a thousand other people's chatter.

Piffle. I'd post this in his comments, but there aren't any. So with luck, his Python script will pick this up and he'll see it.

Mark writes better than 90% of the bloggers whose sites I've seen (and I've only bothered with a small percentage of the blogosphere to begin with). He's high on Technorati's list because once people find his site, they go back. Not because his technical content is so unique or exclusive, but because his writing is musical. So I have to wonder--is he really unaware of how well he writes, or is this false modesty? I don't "know" Mark, so I can only guess. But the voice that comes through in his blog leads me to believe the modesty is real.

I don't read Mark's site because it's on Daypop. I don't even look at Daypop. I read his site because it's beautifully written, often surprising (you never know when he's going to drop an post on addiction in there amongst the accessibility discussions), always thoughtful. And yeah, the technical stuff is useful. But it's not what brings me back.

Mark points to an essay by Joe Clark, "Deconstructing You've Got Blog," in which Clark argued that the velvet ropes surrounding the "A-List" of bloggers constituted an unbreachable barrier. I think it's pretty clear that the past couple of years haven't supported that. There are plenty of interesting new blogs that have sprung up since then, and quickly gained readership--not all of them rocketing to the height that Mark's blog has reached, but many of them nestling comfortably into a community of readers and writers.

Is there similarity within these clusters? Sure. Why not? But the interesting things happen in the borders, in the connectors, the people who bridge between clusters. The borders are remarkably permeable, and I see no evidence of that changing--at least not yet.

Maybe when Microsoft and AOL launch their blogging juggernauts, the bloggers will circle their wagons, and the lines will become more rigid. But we're not there yet. And in the meantime, I can only hope to keep finding people who write as well as Mark, since there's no better way that I can think of to hone my skills as a "Grand Master at Using Computers To Avoid Doing Any Real Work."


Thank you for your kind words. To answer your question, I am, for the most part, unaware of how well I write, if indeed I write well at all. Writing has always come naturally to me; it baffles me that other people can't do it, or don't want to, or don't enjoy it, or whatever. What is more human than the telling of stories?

Spend one quarter reading the essays written by college students, and you'll realize just how rare and wonderful good writing is.

Story telling is very human. But there are many essential aspects of humanity that humans overall aren't very good at.

And blogs are primarily the domain of those who genuinely like to write--and probably of those who feel they *must* write. We're most certainly a minority, even within the literate population. That's why I don't worry too much any more about massive blogging leading to the "AOL-ing" of blogspace. E-mail (communication) taps into a universal urge to communicate. Blogging taps into a more unusual urge to regularly publish one's thoughts and ideas publicly.

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This page contains a single entry published on January 21, 2003 5:21 PM.

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