Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
Since this is weblogging and we do everything bass-ackwards, I thought I would put the postscripts at the beginning of the posting instead of the end:
Speaking of exclusivity: I’m up for a weblogging get together in Vancouver. We don’t need to formalize this, to tack on ‘conference’, or find a sponsor. We just need to agree to get together and pick a date and time. So, who’s up for a get together in Vancouver, BC in 2003?
Final, final note: I’m going to sic Zoe, the trained attack kitty, on anyone who types that obscenity Barney’s “I love you” song in my comments. I mean it, I’m gonna have to hurt ya.
Now, on with the show:
In the comments attached to my Elitist only need apply some good points were raised. In particular, Dan Lyke brings up the question about elitism and blogrolls. This coincided with some private correspondence that addressed this same issue. Repeating some of that here:
Blogroll associations are no more elitist than friendships or love. I don’t choose my friends because I think they’re superior to the world at large, or more beautiful, erudite, and definitely not because they’re richer. And I don’t link to anyone based on status, but for some indefinable attraction. I choose them and/or they choose me because there’s something that clicks, that attracts, that connects.
In weblogging, putting a person into a blogroll is our way of saying that we read the person’s weblogs for the pleasure of the words, a pleasure that re-occurs daily. We cross-post and comment in a give and take that comes with any friendship regardless of the medium in which it is spawned — a virtual evening out at the pub if you will. And since this is weblogging, anyone can pull up a chair and join in the conversation.
There are webloggers who post mostly about technology, such as Sam Ruby, Phil Ringnalda. Joe Gregorio, Mark Pilgrim, and Dare Obasanjo, who read my weblog; yet I don’t post all that frequently on technology. In fact, my choice of subjects for this weblog is quite eclectic. Sometimes incendiary. So why do Sam and Phil and Joe and Mark and Dare read me? Not because I’m one of the technical elite or because I’m rich or famous; not because they think I’m beautiful or brilliant. (Well, I wouldn’t mind if they thought that.) And we know that it isn’t because they always agree with me.
We just connect. This isn’t elitism — this is the magic that occurs through this ‘social software’ we call weblogging. This ‘connection’ is repeated with every person who comes to my weblog on a frequent basis, and with every weblog I visit. It crosses political and social and religious membership, and transcends boundaries of state and country.
Take a look at my blogroll. One of my favorite webloggers is a folk singer from South Caroline, Shannon at Pet Rock Star. Is she a techie wiz? Is she rich? No. Though she is talented and I love her music, it was her wicked sense of humor, her honor, and her goodness that attracted me to her. I adore her. But she’s not ‘elite’, not as we know the word ‘elite’. And my putting her on my blogroll doesn’t imply ‘elitism’ — just that I like to read her weblog frequently. I connect with her.
I, an openly non-religious person, converse with and link to AKMA, a minister and professor at a divinity school. Now AKMA could be considered elite in some circles, but not in all circles. Definitely not in the techie realm I spend most of my time. It wasn’t his academic standing that attracted me to him on a regular basis — it was his humanity as demonstrated by the silliness about the Dishmatique cross-posting (Google on Dishmatique, you’ll see what I mean). That silliness was so charming, especially when interspersed with sophisticated and extremely well-written postings on postmodernism and theology.
That’s not elitism; that’s one of the purest forms of connectivity this world has ever seen.
I could go on, but the point is that we don’t link to people because they’re ‘elite’; we link because we like to read them on a regular enough basis to keep their links handy. Connection.
At this point, you might be saying, “But doesn’t that list form an exclusiveness? Aren’t these people made elite because you’ve linked to them, isolated them from other webloggers?” My answer to these questions is, No.
My blogrolling another weblogger doesn’t mean a reader is restricted to only reading that person; or, conversely, is restricted _from_ reading that person. Existence in a weblog blogroll doesn’t imply exclusivity. Existence in a weblog blogroll doesn’t even imply excellence, though I want to hasten to assure all of those people in my blogroll that I personally think they’re wonderful.
I wrote once a while back about how links can become a weapon; not linking to a specific post can shut people out of a conversation. I still believe this: when a conversation among webloggers occurs around a specific topic, deliberately not linking to another person is shutting that person out of the conversation. That, to me, is elitism. That’s also why I support technologies such as Trackback and comments — to enable others to include themselves in the conversation whether I choose to link to them, or not.
Blogrolling a person, or not, does not shut them out of conversations.
Most of the weblogs on my blogroll are there because people have pulled up a chair and joined conversations that have occurred at this weblog. That’s how I’ve met them. That’s how we’ve met them. I didn’t invite them, they invited themselves. We connected.
Half of the weblogs I visit relatively regularly aren’t even on my blogroll, primarily because I haven’t updated it or because I can easily type the blog URL without needing the link; or because I visit them when I see them in weblogs.com or blo.gs. For instance, you don’t see Scripting News on there and I visit it relatively frequently. Does my not having them in my blogroll make them less elite? No, just means I haven’t updated my blogroll in a while. Makes me lazy, not elitist.
(Between us, don’t think Dave’s position in the blogging food chain pages is suffering because his weblog is not on my roll. )
There is a world of difference between weblog blogrolls and conferences that only encourage or allow ‘the elite’ to speak or question. The former is nothing more than a convenience; the latter is nothing less than a closed door.
As for any of us discovering new weblogs, drop a comment and introduce yourself. The door’s open. Everyone’s welcome.