April 02, 2005

Blog Gatekeeper Oligarchy Perceived II, Women-On-The-Verge Edition

The ability to perceive power imbalances, if sex-linked, continues to manifest itself in blog discussions, led by women on the verge. What's going on here is the classic case of theory colliding with reality, reality wins, problem occurs for ideology. As a simple fact, the top "influential" bloggers are overwhelmingly white male. That's blindingly obvious. So with regard to blogging being a meritocracy, then EITHER:

1) White males are somehow the most meritorious.


2) The bogosphere is deeply far from being a meritocracy.

Pick one.

But either way, there's a very big problem. It's that simple. Oh, somebody can try to argue out of it - "What's "influential" anyway, huh huh huh? The most populous demographic of (diary) bloggers is teenage girls, so that's where the real "influence" is ...". But it's just hard to do that sort of fogging in the face of the stark reality that nobody is begging the typical teenage girl for a blogroll spot or a mention in a post. Perhaps the best avoidance strategy is simply to flame very loudly for people not to think about it. But the dilemma is going to be visible at all the high-powered conferences. So denial is of limited (not zero, but limited) effectiveness.

Arguing in favor of position #1 is difficult, but there's a bona-fide example in a semi-respectable context by Heather Mac Donald in National Review Online:

Why? Could it be that the premise of the "diversity" crusade is wrong ? that there are not in fact hordes of unknown, competitively talented non-white-male journalists held back by prejudice? ...

Here's a different explanation for why the blogosphere is dominated by white males: because they're the ones producing the best product. Sorry, ladies, but there aren't as many of us engaged in aggressive, competitive opinionizing and nonstop consumption of politics as our male tormentors.

Now (note position #2) compare Halley Suitt:

... they don't understand how you get READ in the blogosphere. As the piece by Heather MacDonald in NRO goes on and on about -- that blogs are free and everyone's equal in the blogging world -- this happens to be true, but completely misses the point. Yes, anyone can write a blog, but it's not about writing -- it's about being READ. ...

Similarly in the blogosphere, who mentions you and who LINKS TO YOU, puts you in premier position on the virtual newsstand to be READ, or without links, to be ignored. ...

Drumroll ... Or, in a word: GATEKEEPERS.

(Once more: She said it, not me. She said it, not me. She said it, not me ...)

And a comment in that post led me to Jenny D: "Journalism and the culture of power":

There is clearly some kind of weird bias among the "blogging elite" with regard to their links and referrers. They link to each other, talk to each other, and only each other. ... [SF: Yeah.]

It's like being a fish...you can't see the water. That's because it's your environment, it's what you know, it is completely attuned to your needs and you are attuned to its characteristics. But everyone who's not a fish...we can see the water. We can see who's in it, and we can see that we're not. ...

Same with the blogosphere. The A-list linkers and the linked don't see that there's any other than this nifty, wide-open, democratic, citizen journalism thing. And they're all sitting around yapping with each other at conferences, and soaking up precious venture capital, ...

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to visit their sites. After all, who cares what they think? But I do because it's the only way to get heard. ... [SF: Yup.]

Doesn't this sound frighteningly like the way these guys describe old media? [SF: YEAH!]

Sigh .... Squeak squeak squeak ...

"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." (Animal Farm)

"The creatures outside looked from A-list to MSM, and from MSM to A-list, and from A-list to MSM again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." (Link Farm)

[Disclaimer: This article is written by a white male, but one not a gatekeeper]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on April 02, 2005 11:52 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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