I’m on another A-list… so shoot me now

Risking pissyness from those not on his list directed to those who are, Steve Rubel creates a collection of 10 blogs he likes. I’m honored to be included. Thanks, Steve.

But what’s really cool about this is that Steve also suggested that others should create their top 10 lists and give them a Technorati tag: 10blogs. Click on that and you’ll find other lists rapidly swarming.

And that, again, is the point: There is no one list. We all have our own lists. That is the beauty of this new world.

: And while we’re on this (dangerous) topic, Tish G. came back from BlogHer and insisted that the A-list is some old-boys club:

Stop being the Wizard beind the Curtain and just admit what you’re about–creating an old boy’s network that excludes anyone who doesn’t blog in the exact manner that you deem relavent.

Allow me to don your hairshirt of the offended and say that I’m sick of people attacking me because I ended up on a meaningless list. I didn’t create a club, join a club, go to any club meetings. I am not now and have not been a member of the worldwide A conspiracy.

But the real point, Tish, is that you’re missing the real point of this new world: There is no club. No one can stop you from speaking anymore. You can be heard if you have something someone wants to hear. Use that freedom. Fly with it. Stop growling on the ground.

Karl Martino reacts to this same notion in a very good post:

The A-list isn’t an organized group. It isn’t a cabal that conspires in the middle of the night to draw linkage. To think so is pretty ridiculous considering in many cases this list is composed of sites that represent opposite extremes.

It is just a natural occurrence. Human nature. In this case users vote with their links – links they may have (probably have) been found from an influential (heavily linked to blogger) in the first place.

The seminal piece on this behavior remains Clay Shirky’s “Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality“. It’s a must read. It’s funny when A-listers deny the A-list – they don’t link to – or mention – this piece. [Heh. Just made that a self-denying prophecy. -ed]

Some would argue that the A-list, even if it exists, doesn’t matter. That thousands of D-list links can exceed the value in attention-driving a single A-list link can deliver. Indeed, I think this is true. However, the time it takes to be heard among so many can take much, much longer then what one related A-list link can do in a few hours. The difference can be astronomical and can’t be underestimated….

But heard by whom, Karl? If you want to be heard by an audience the size of TV Guide, then we’re all Z list. But then, TV Guide isn’t A list itself anymore either, is it? That’s the way the world is going: The mass is dead! Long live the niches!

We need to stop thinking in the old terms of mass market, big circulation, big ratings, blockbusters. That world is dying. We need to stop thinking that when we are in a niche, we’re in something lesser. No, it means we’re in a community. We’re in a good conversation, not a loud crowd.

I used to write for an alleged audience of 25 million at TV Guide and People. Now I write for an audience of a few thousand. Call that whatever damned list you like. I like it much better.

  • Who said there was just “one list”? Like to know who spewed that stupidity.

    What got me writing in your earlier post was:

    “There is no A list. There is only your list.”

    Which is false. There are MANY lists – of which – the A-list – which is commonly defined by those blogs that have the most inbound links as determined by Technorati – is one.

    You see – you and I agree. To a degree.

  • Allow me to don your hairshirt of the offended and say that I’m sick of people attacking me because I ended up on a meaningless list.

    Thanks for the shirt removal, Jeff…you know, that shirt was indeed getting a bit itchy….even if it IS amazingly fashionable among the Gothy set…

    And, it really wasn’t a personal attack–it was a point of debate, a bit of hyperbole to stimulate conversation…sheesh! Got you to reference Spap-Oop though, didn’t it? ;-)

    But, seriously, Jeff (and this kind of goes to Karl’s point about lists)…there are indeed perks to being on an A-list, whatever that list may be…whether it is an A-list degree from a high status institution, or any other sort of A-list that’s out there, there are many “perks” of one kind or another that come with the social status engendered in an “A-list” of any sort. Whether that status is bestowed upon us by outside sources without our approval, or if we tenaciously seek it out, it’s there.

    Denying that there are pecking orders in this world is kind of a denial of the way the American way of social class and status. (uh-oh….am I going to be dinged for referring to social class in a “classless” society??)

    In other words, those who often say there are no class-based meritocracies are the ones who often benefit from them. (I used to be part of it in Princeton–I know it well) In simpler terms: Boola-boola hey and the secret handshake and all that.

    (btw, I’m still kind of giggling that you found Spap-oop…who knew??)

    As for someone stopping another from speaking, it’s true that one can’t…couldn’t stop people before either, as there were always vanity presses, and ‘zines and so forth. They took a bit more effort to get out there, but they were there. However, it was always a certain social connection that helped people emerge from those realms, too….and oftentimes they were social connections similar to the type an A-list engenders. If A-listers don’t go out into the wider world of the blogosphere, if they just wait around for those of us in the peanut gallery to bust their chops or kiss their cheeks before we get noticed, all that might end up happening is the perpetuation of a certain meritocracy…

    after all, is the virtual world really any different than the visceral world?

  • Thanks for the reply Jeff.

    But heard by whom, Karl?

    And that’s an awesome question.

    I’d answer – to be heard by folks who don’t already hear you – who you want or need to hear you.

    We are definitely Z-list (all of us) in comparison to the TV-Guide’s audience. Good point. We are definitely in a niche. In many niches actually. You can sub categorize me till the cows come home (whenever that is) – but it makes no difference – there is still – for folks seeking and needing attention to for what they are doing – a struggle. And there is a way to judge “attention influence” – even in this small niche we all work within here on the web. The most influential have been tagged with the term “A-list”. Maybe it’s a derogatory term. I have no idea. I think term sucks. Makes it sound like a clique – when I think it really isn’t. Not actively at least. DailyKos and Powerline are NOT part of the same club. They don’t chat everyday. But the existence of their influence – or yours – can’t be doubted. It can be measured. It’s there. Denying it doesn’t make it go away. I’m not saying this is a problem – but a reality to deal with.

    And yeah no matter what list or category you wish to put me in – I’m happy to be here right along with ya. The web is participatory – the major differentiator from what’s come before. It’s read *and* write. It’s two way. That makes all the difference.

  • You’re right. Blogging is about the Long Tail or it’s nothing. It is a new paradigm … nothing to do with Marxist politics. It’s about ordinary folk demonstrating their genius … or their ordinariness. We all decide. Why should any authority decide this for us?

  • Oh, and another thing I found out at Blogher, wh ich I didn’t mention–face to face meetings are sometimes more beneficial to making connections, even among bloggers, than just words on a screen.

  • Blogging is about the Long Tail, and it is about ratings, both. There are people who benefit from being clearing houses of information, like Jeff.

    There are a lot of people who are creating a record for Long Tail discovery.

    The later group is the now the bulk.

  • Jeff, if you don’t think the A-list is important, then you should stop writing about it. I think this is the second post in a week about how you are on an “A” list, but the list doesn’t matter.

  • I have to agree with you here. The important thing is that a conversation and a story are being carried forward–not how many people are scanning it.

  • All of this talk of an A-List makes me wonder if we haven’t lodged ourselves in the wrong paradigm. I’ve just been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, and he makes a convincing case that “memes” propagate a lot like viruses. What turns a disease into a full-blown epidemic is not millions of people infecting a handful of neighbors (as many assume) but a handful of people who infect a disproportionate amount of others by virtue of living unusually social lives. Ideas tend to get around in a similar fashion — at some point you’re either picked up by one of these Connectors and break out into the public consciousness or you’re not, and that makes all the difference.

    Our “A-List” blogs are the Connectors of the blogosphere, run invariably by a gregarious sort of personality type that lives to blog and blogs to live. These Connectors seek out links in the same way most of us look for food, shelter, and sex. Links are their very existence, their reason for being. Connectors do not “blog” in the same manner as the average blogger. Compare any random blog to Instapundit or Eschaton, two “A-List” blogs frequently accused of being nothing more than other peoples’ links accompanied with a sentence of two of commentary. But the critics miss the point. This is the purpose of the “A-List” — they are the major interchanges of the blogosphere, less destinations in and of themselves than portals to someplace more interesting.

    Granted, none of this addresses the issue of blogger equity, especially across gender lines. While Jeff’s point that no one can silence a voice in the blogosphere is a valid one, it’s hard to argue with a straight face that all quality blogs have an equal chance. Whether the “A-List” wants to hear it or not, their actions have a disproportionate amount of affect on what gets noticed and what doesn’t. The very least they can do is try to get away from their everyday blogroll and RSS feeds and seek out different voices from the ones that typically get linked. Blithely assuming that if a blog is genuinely good it will naturally rise to the top ignores a basic fact of life: it’s all about Connections.

  • Jersey Exile, you’re exactly right. I’ve been following this one all day, and seeing how fast it’s spread. Steve Rubel (A-List in terms of links in at over 1000) posts the meme, some of us see it in our RSS feeds. Steve mentions Jeff (3000+ links in) and Jeff posts back. others post, and the Technorati tags grow to 17 in 16 hours. Not much difference in speed or distribution of tagged posts – it’s been around 1 per hour all day.

    Now page hits, on the other hand…. page hits to my page from the tag at technorati went up substantially in the two hours following Jeff’s post, then tapered off again. (thanks, Jeff!) Jeff didn’t even mention me – he had no reason to. Nonetheless, I’m fairly sure that I felt the impact of his post in a positive way. (coincidentally, I’ve started doing trackbacks from my WP blogs, and they brought in traffic as well. Just a couple – good grief, people think they can get serious traffic off of trackback spam? They’re nuts.

    Anyway, THAT’s the way weak connections work – and the way they should work. If I’m a fair example, then there was upwards of a 50x direct multiplier in terms of referrals vs posts, largely due to the socalled A-List.As you said, JE, they’re the mega-connectors. The rest of us tend to be connectors, as well – just not on that meta-level of connecting the connectors, which is what an A-List does.

  • Beat me to it Greg – I was going to say Jersey nailed it as well – you were spot on as well.

    A factor to consider is the strength of links – just how fluid is the “A-list”? It *is* changing – but is it changing at a healthy rate that reflects the growth of blogging?

    I think so much of the concern you see from others – about the “attention influencers/super connectors/A-list” is that it apparently has a change rate out of synch with the growth of blogs as a whole. That once you get that kind of influence – it becomes self-reinforcing. That’s a question for David Sifri and others though. You need to cull that data together to figure that out.

    As for Steve Rubel’s idea to share his favorite blogs – that’s what we all do already – on our blogrolls. It’s novel to send it out as a post in a tag though. Makes collecting that information easier with the tools available these days.

    And yes Jeff – you’ve been on my blogroll for ages. And I’ve been happy to be on yours. A simple example of your influence Jeff – I’ve had folks introduce themselves to me – “hey I saw you on Jeff Jarvis’s blogroll” – I seriously doubt you’ve had such experience from me.

  • hi Jeff.. just want to comment on the a-list critique about the clubs.. I honestly don’t think that any “A ” list blogger want to be on an list. and yes it is the beauty of it all that everybody can speak.

    I feel that people really want to have these lists and you really can’t stop them.. it is essential for new blogger to find out what to read and where..

    that’s it…

    Henriette W. Andersen

    Prograes – Embassy of Creativity

  • One of the things the exercise has shown is that most people will select at least one local blog among their ten to keep tabs on local events or commentary on the local rag of a MSM newspaper.

    Sure, the so-called A-listers appear frequently across the range, but it’s interesting to see that within each list one or two of them pretty much cover that elite echo-chamber and folks look for other sites to fill those niches or roles.

  • Think of it like “celebrities”. There’s people who are celebrities in a wide sense, i.e. Elvis. Then there’s people who are *local* celebrities, within their group or profession (vaguely related to “connectors” point above).

    Some people might consider being famous locally or within their profession, to be sufficient. But it would be disingenuous to argue that because power is not monolithic, power doesn’t exist.

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  • That’s great that you wrote for such a large audience at TV Guide and that you like writing for a smaller audience, but you should be mindful that your blog could rocket at any moment into a significantly larger audience. I like your blog a lot.

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