Day: June 22, 2008

The Irish Blogosphere Criticism and Elites

Eoin Purcell

Teacups threatened by Storms
The Irish Blogosphere is small and shallow. Its readership is growing, as is the total number of participants. The growth and success of the Irish Blog Awards indicates that the arena is widening but, as it stands, there are only a few thousand bloggers and in total they get only a few hundreds of thousands of visitors a day.

That in itself is impressive but hardly earth shattering. What is more, the bulk of these visitors swarm about some leading lights, as one might expect in any media/publishing landscape*.

Which is why I was very surprised by the recent kerfuffle (Good survey post on Rick O’Shea’s blog) about this little post. Here is the worst of it:

I can only assume that the A-listers of the Irish blogging world are lovely, lovely people because to be frank, some of them are shit-awful writers. I shouldn’t need to point out (but I will anyway) that this is intended as a critique of the blogs themselves, and not of the bloggers. There are an awful lot of people out there who need to get themselves a good editor, or whose blogs need a harsh fucking review.

Both sides are a little overwrought
For one thing, elites often look talentless and undeserving to those left outside them. We seldom see the complex networks, the years of hidden slogging or the subtle appeal to others that ensures such elites their position. That doesn’t mean they are entirely without merit.

On the other hand, elites deserve the odd lobbed grenade into their comfort zone and a decent rigorous review would be welcome. The strong reaction against this post was to my mind, unwarranted. It suggests that those criticised remain insecure about their position within the Irish Blogosphere (a misplaced insecurity given the targets of criticism I assure you).

Elites Form
The truth is that either because they were first movers or because they were already well connected with existing bloggers or because they have exclusive access and content. It’s a little like Power Laws.

The A list of Irish bloggers has formed by a variety of methods. Some of them have exclusive content, insider positions or name recognition. Others have posted and worked hard to get where they are. Some succeed for reason I cannot even begin to imagine, but then complex systems as I said above, are often beyond the comprehension of most humans.

To boil it down, criticism is good, elites have a function (and are in any case, largely avoidable). We should all accept both those facts and move on with it.

Enjoying Sunday morning Radio,
Eoin

* And lest we forget, the blog is simply a publishing platform.