This is not your father’s blogosphere.
For the last three days now, Robert Scoble has been dethroned, at least momentarily, as the king of WordPress.com by ‘AtariBoy‘. It’s not for the first time, either. Squash noted a week or so ago that AtariBoy had knocked off the Scobleizer after a post on his blog about a MySpace hack shot to the top of Digg.
Big deal. A Digg-powered flash-in-the-pan, the blog establishment might say. However, three days ago AtariBoy shot back to number one and is still keeping Scoble out of his familiar home as WordPress kingpin. His staying power this times appears to be derived from the fact that after receiving tens of thousands of hits, courtesy of having two stories on the Digg front page simultaneously, he’s now become known as the place to visit if you want to find out where to download the latest episode of the cult geek TV program The IT Crowd.
So who the hell is this AtariBoy character? Who is this upstart that has knocked off Scoble, the world-famous Microsoft blogger and co-author of a best-selling blogger’s bible.
AtariBoy is 21-year-old Andrew Nesbitt, a robotics student studing at Plymouth University in the UK. He has been blogging for less than 3 months and only made a commitment to post daily in January. That’s right, after about a month of regular blogging, he’s climbed to the top of the blogging ladder. Squash, ever the investigative journalist, decided we’d track the AtariBoy down and ask him: “Are you the new Scoble?”
“I’d like to think so, but i don’t think it will last. He’s got a lot more interesting stuff to write about and more contacts in the industry. I’m just a lowely student!” Nesbitt wrote back to me.
Nesbitt said he made a New Years resolution to blog everday, after starting his WordPress blog in December. “I started it as mainly just links to other sites, but then I noticed that is all most blogs are, and I wanted to add more than just links, so i started adding more and trying to give something extra, like with the MySpace hacks and IT Crowd [posts]; something that people would find useful, or something that I might find useful if I were to google a certain problem,” Nesbitt said, who added his strategy for maintaining his lofty rank in the blogosphere was just to “keep on writing more useful blogs”.
It might pay to consider for a moment, how many A-List bloggers would have considered AtariBoy’s MySpace and BitTorrent post’s as genuinely useful. Probably none. Because for the most part, the blog establishment are just a bunch of old farts. They don’t really understand the next wave of Internet phenomena, which will ubdoubtedly be driven by the ‘Y generation’ of Internet users, largely because they’re too busy trying to theorise the current iteration. You only have to look at the explosion in traffic experienced by Y-generation service like MySpace over the last couple of years to realise that the next evolution of the Internet is all about these guys and gals. And old dudes aren’t invited to the party.
Slowly but surely, the A-Listers will be replaced on blog rankings by Y-Listers like AtariBoy. That’s ok, because the blog elite will just continue to pontificate about why they’ve been usurped, feverishly linking back and forth with each other in order to maintain their increasingly minor corner of the blogosphere.
This is going to happen much more quickly than anyone thinks. The incredible ascension of AtariBoy has proven just how close to our front door this next revolution is. It’s going to happen more quickly than anyone can imagine because the blogosphere as it exists today is just so darn small. Even if your a top 100 blog, you’re still receiving traffic that’s miniscule compared to Big Media sites.
Meanwhile, sites like Digg and Reddit are growing at such at rate, that they’ll soon begin to rival the biggest of the Big Media sites. And unlike the blogosphere as it used to exist, this time it’s not a closed shop. The blog elite have been able to maintain their powerbase because they started this thing (and full credit to them) but they made it pretty damn hard to break into their circle because for the most part they just linked to each other. Subsequently 99.9 per cent of the total blog population receives almost no traffic.
Digg is the people revolting. Digg, Reddit and like sites are about the people cracking open the blogosphere to all-comers. And through the gates people like AtariBoy, smart guys and gals who have a knack of honing in on the wavelength of people just like themselves, will come charging through and over the top of the people who have guarded the inner circle.
I asked Nesbitt about his success on Digg. “I submitted the posts myself, and got a couple friends to digg it just to get them started, and then if you submit good, or useful posts, people generally give you diggs,” Nesbitt said. Simple as that. Forget paying expensive, search engine optimisation firms, just put your faith in the power of the people.
In fact, this next iteration of the web is so anti-commercial, it’s amazing how far removed it is from the high-profile bloggers who rule today, who are almost all in the IT business, who almost all have a barrow to push, and indeed many of whom blog as a commercial adjunct. Compare that to Nesbitt, who joked that when he grows up he either wants to be a stuntman 🙂 or else “just something with computers” and hasn’t even begun to entertain the possibility of making some coin out of this blogging activities.
“For some reason everyone keeps telling me to find a way of making money out of it, but I dont think its the right kind of thing to do. I’d just feel wrong covering it with adverts as I hate websites that have them, I use adblock myself!”
And while he admits he got kind of addicted keeping watch over his traffic and responding to comments when Digg was sending his blog through the roof, he eventually stopped when his girlfriend told him he was “sad”. “[Blogging] hasnt affected my life that much, I have quite a lot of free time being a student, and it just fills some of that up.”
And so becoming one of the most read bloggers on the Internet for a day, or even more, is that simple. It’s the Blogosphere 2.0.
CLARIFICATION: By the way. This post is in no way meant to be a direct criticism of Scoble, who of all the high-profile bloggers is always happy to link outside the inner-circle (and has done so for Squash) He was just used here as a symbol of the status quo and I think the Scobleizer would actually be more pleased than anyone the blogosphere is opening up beyond the usual sources.
Update: Shit, hey! Squash got Digg’d today, made the front page and we’re #3 WordPress blog behind AtariBoy and Scoble. Man, if Squash can do it, they truly do let the riff raff in these days.
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