Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

The Closed blogosphere and the Memeorandum Myth

Squash likes a good conspiracy theory as much as anyone, so we enjoyed stumbling across this post from Kent Newsome who said:

“Unfortunately, the blogosphere is a closed system. There are too many people who believe they are going to get rich by writing a blog. Once you add the element of money into the equation, the element of competition soon follows. So you get the haves linking to one another (and largely only to one another) and ignoring (or at best tolerating) the have nots, in an effort to boost their status and, perhaps more importantly, protect their shares of the readership pie. Anyone who argues this isn’t true hasn’t spent much time surfing around the blogosphere.”

I actually posted a feature to our MediaConnect site today about my experienced writing this blog and I did make the comment that it is awfully difficult to get noticed in the blogosphere without a leg up. Without my Scoble link I’d probably be sitting here with my dozen readers and would have almost certainly have given up. So I think Newsome’s point have merits – the blogosphere is a relatively closed clique. However, even a jaded, former-tech hack like Squash finds it hard to think that your so-called A-List bloggers deliberately inter-post, and seldom link outside of their cosy, little sphere because their afraid of competition.

I think its more to do with the fact that keeping up with the “conversation” on a wider blogosphere basis is damn difficult and to some extent I have to take aggregators to task for failing to make this any easier.

Your typical aggregator, like Blogniscient, is pretty much only any good for finding your “hot” blog posts. Memeorandum is pretty distinct on this level, because it’s meant to be all about the conversation.

However, if you’ve been linked to on memeorandum, you’ve probably been massively underwhelmed as to how much traffic the site actually sends through to you. I’ve yet to have a post make it as a main headline, but I’ve had the first or second link on one of the top stories a couple of times and seen no noticeable increase in traffic at all.

Which indicates to me that for the most part memeorandum users click on the main post, but seldom extend their reading to the various links that expand on the original meme. Which is not all that surprising. How long would it take you to read every link on memeorandum?

Now, I love memeorandum. It does a wonderful job of aggregating and sorting and I probably wouldn’t have the time to write this without it. But it doesn’t do a great job of making it easy for me to immerse myself in the conversations that are going on, rather it tends to inform me that a conversation exists.

Gabe if you read this, I think you need a link for each meme where it opens up a page and I can see all the first paragraphs (at least) of all the blog posts related to that topic.

In the meantime, all bloggers should make the effort to go and read a new blog your not familiar with and throw the occasional link the way of someone who’s not one of the usual suspects. After all, the bigger the blogosphere, the greater the benefit to every blogger.

Filed under: Blogs, memeorandum

17 Responses

  1. […] Pero eso, sí, esto no sería un post en condiciones y que se precie sin un poquito de “teoría de la conspiración”. Y ésta nos viene de la mano de Kent Newsome, cuyo post descubro a través de nuestor vecino Squash. Kent dice que la blogosfera debe ser un lugar de intercambio de ideas, de conversaciones abiertas, pero que en 2006, es casi imposible crear un blog que se convierta en relevante. Porque? […]

  2. […] Squash rails on Memeorandum and the closed blogosphere. Squash’s theory? New people can’t get discovered. […]

  3. It’s funny you should mention that. I only started blogging seriously a little while ago, and still don’t have much traffic, but I do get linked to on memeorandum from time to time — but I find that what traffic and links I am getting seems to come more from linking to others (not the big ones) and posting comments (much like this one) and trying to enhance the conversation somewhat. So I guess I’m already kind of taking your advice — who knows, maybe I’ll even link to you 😉

  4. Phil Sim says:

    Every blogger should be made to link to Squash or face serious repercussions like having to explain what a Gesturebank is at the next barbeque you attend.

    I think the best conversations happen when they originate and propogate inside the blogosphere. As soon as Big Media get on a topic, bloggers by default link to that and it kind of kills off the conversation.

    Anyway, so I’m putting the challenge out to all you A-Listers. Ask yourself how many links you’ve donated this month and where they’ve gone to and then get out there and started opening up this thing they called the blogosphere.

  5. It’s interesting what goes around comes around. I wrote a piece the other day on how the conversation was too difficult with little traction. You write one and get noticed. So that makes you part of the establishment. It’s interesting then that you primarily link to others in the A&B list…perhaps you are protecting your own competition🙂

  6. Phil Sim says:

    Hi Graham, your spot on. I am a hypocrite. But as I said, and also as you’ve said, the reason is the conversation is difficult. I do rely on memeorandum which only links primarily to well-known bloggers and because of the ‘memeorandum’ incentive of linking to its main posts, I am typical of why the blogosphere is closed. I’m part of the problem. I encourage everyone who reads this to keep this conversation going. I think its really important to the future of the blogosphere.

  7. hugh macleod says:

    It’s far easier to call the blogosphere a “closed system” than it is to spend 5 years building up a steady readership.

    I also drew a cartoon on the subject:

    http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/001847.html

  8. Phil Sim says:

    What you say is true, Hugh, too. However, the much-hyped promise of blogging is that anyone can publish and be heard. While anyone can get published, it’s a lot harder actually being heard. And when you get down to that, that’s the fundamental human desire that’s driving all this. Criticism of the ‘closed system’ is by no way meant to denigrate the achievements of those who have worked so hard over time to build up a readership, its asking can the ‘system’ work better so more people can come to the party and therefore everyone benefits.

    Love your cartoons, though, think their brilliant.

  9. Geez Phil, Scobleized twice in your first month. Who’s a spoiled little blogger?

    Anyway, getting on Memeorandum is too hard. You should take a leaf from Ben Barren’s book and slobber all over Dave Winer as if he’s the Second Coming… a surefire way to get linked.

  10. camdenlady says:

    Perhaps its also worth having other motives to blogging beyond getting a lot of readers, at least to start with? I’d love to have people read my blog (blatant plug here!) but at the moment I’m doing it mostly as a personal experiement in doing a little writing and seeing if I can sustain it before I do a more formal one for business purposes. I think most of the people who read this are friends from other fora, such as lastthursday.net, rather than people who’ve found it through blogs.

  11. Jope says:

    Not to speak of the “sub-blogospheres”, that is, the french language one, the spanish language one…

    Scoble et. al. won’t link to us, because they can’t (well, they may understand spanish, but you get my point), so a lot of the traffic gets ‘stuck’ in only a part of the blogosphere… not complaining, mind you, as “blog in english” is the obvious answer to this, but I thought I’d mention it.

    Also, note that all other language blogs do link back to A-listers, so there is a one side traffic here…

    BTW, this same debate is now raging in many spanish language blogs, maybe memes are multilingual?

    (and if any A-lister wants to link to me, I’ll be happy to provide example posts that don’t need translation…😉

  12. Ted Shelton says:

    Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook wrote an excellent book on why this happens — “The Winner-Take-All Society: Why the Few at the Top Get So Much More Than the Rest of Us”

    Here is the Amazon link:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0140259953/sr=1-2/qid=1137106601/ref=pd_bbs_2/102-7511384-5708101?%5Fencoding=UTF8

  13. I just entered the blogging community last year, so there’s no way I expect to enter at the top. However, you immediately see the hierarchy after you’ve been exploring for awhile. From the point of view of a sociologist, it’s pretty amazing how our social patterns repeat themselves in almost every activity. The truly funny thing is that many top tech people, which could include many bloggers, were at the lowest rung on the social ladder in school. Now, many may see their roles reversed. Are they handling it well? I would say that most are…

    Oh, check out Unpopular at http://www.voiceoftech.com/unpopular

  14. Phil, I think your prescription to link more to the smaller blogs might come true all by itself — or at least I hope so. I often start at memeorandum, where the top links usually come from the A-listers, but I usually wind up combing through some of the secondary and tertiary links looking for the alternative comment or the different take on a subject — that’s where the interesting stuff comes up. That’s how I found your blog 🙂

  15. […] Take this Squash fool. Has to be the most selfish blogger in the entire blogosphere. Have a look at his most recent set of posts. Who does he link to? If he does actually bother to spare a link it’s for the likes of Scoble, Doc, Ingram, Karp, Arrington, etc. He’s hardly doing his part to open up the blogosphere to new voices, is he? Yet when he’s not taking cheap pot shots at the establishment he sits back and whines about the “closed blogosphere” and what not. What a total, utter toss pot. And by the way, he doesn’t know how to use punctuation either. Not so easy to pretend you can write, when you don’t have a sub-editor to fix up your crap, is it, journo-boy? […]

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  17. Lev says:

    Very interesting post. Shame I only came across it today. Last month I observed and wrote about what I call “Blog Pockets”, i.e. when you come across the same blogrolls over and over again. Once you enter one of those pockets it’s difficult to escape it.

    My observation supports what Kent Newsome writes, that you “get the haves linking to one another (and largely only to one another) and ignoring (or at best tolerating) the have nots”.

    I put the existence blog pockets down to three things: 1. the blogroll function itself, 2. the need for peer recognition (the higher ranked your peer the better), and 3. the way blog search engines rank posts (most read ranks higher).

    Point 3. highlights the need for quality content to be recognised as such, but who – in an effort to get in with the A-listers – would link to a Z-lister, even if he or she had some good content? In an ideal world such interlinking would happen, but aren’t we all influenced by the Technorati and Alexa page ranks?

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