March 20, 2005

"Blogging Beyond the Men's Club", or, the Oligarchy Perceived

Please shoot me if I ever join this crowd: White Male Power
(image from Jonathon Delacour)

By now, the Steven Levy/Newsweek article on "Blogging Beyond the Men's Club" has been extensively, err, "discussed". Myself, I'm still fascinated by the way in which the specific example of sex imbalance in power suddenly makes general power dynamics perceptible to many (my emphasis below):

It appears that some clubbiness is involved. [Halley] Suitt puts it more bluntly: "It's white people linking to other white people!" (A link from a popular blog is this medium's equivalent to a Super Bowl ad.) Suitt attributes her own high status in the blogging world to her conscious decision to "promote myself among those on the A list."

Note she said it, not me!.

Compare Shelley Power's hilarious survey of promoting herself, e.g.:

[BigBlogger] used to link to me off and on in the past, and not necessarily always in a critical manner, but won't any longer. I've crossed the line with that boy and would have to do major booty kissing if I want to get back into his favor. Frankly, I'd rather have oral sex with a crocodile.

Of course, as Jon Garfunkel wrote, the issue of women's representation and power has been discussed for a while. I'm happy to see someone with at least a little media presence, such as Juan Cole, do a take-down of the nonsense statistical argument:

... that the bottom 7,999,999 blogs in hits get much more circulation than the top 100 blogs. This statement is true but contains a genuine fallacy of reasoning. Most blogs get only a few hits, and are seen by only a few people, and they are not the same people as see the other small blogs. So to aggregate all these readers is illegitimate. [A-lister's], on the other hand, get tens of thousands of hits a day, especially from other opinion leaders, and circulate widely. So that a million other blogs each get 3 hits a day is completely beside the point.

It's all about barriers. As Chris Nolan put it:

The problem with women writing on-line isn't the barrier to entry: Getting a site, getting it up and running is inexpensive and technically easy. The issue is barrier to popularity, which leads to influence and power. That leads, eventually to advertising revenue, freelance gigs and more influence and power, authority even. ... On-line the entry to influence and authority is controlled by a small group of very popular writers, almost all of whom are men who have been at this for a while - in some cases years.

Or, in a word: GATEKEEPERS.

I keep saying, exchanging one set of gatekeepers for another, is no net gain overall. What's so superultrafantastic about yet another media oligarchy? (and sadly, what's the point of my ineffectual squeaking, having frustratedly gotten sucked into this yet again? - notice, more gloomy posts planned in the future).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on March 20, 2005 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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