November 27, 2005

Cites & Insights December 2005 - "Analogies, Gatekeepers and Blogging"

I've described the following as the "pundit's dream" - I have actually said something which convinced someone!

Walt Crawford's latest issue his publication, Cites & Insights 5:14 December 2005, has this description in part (links added):

Following Up: Mea Culpa - While this section includes several "following up" notes, the "mea culpa" regards "Analogies, Gatekeepers and Blogging" - Seth Finkelstein and Jon Garfunkel have convinced me that I'm not qualified to deny the existence of "gatekeepers" within the biblioblogosphere. Read why.

And in the issue:

Seth Finkelstein (Infothought, posted "Cites & Insights November 2005" on October 14, pointing out cases in which yes/no decisions within net media keep people from being widely heard who should be widely heard--just as similar decisions keep voices out of traditional media. (I'm phrasing this badly; go read his post.) He emailed me questioning my A-list skepticism:

[T]he word "controlling" might be a little misleading, in that of course it's not absolute--but that shouldn't be used to deny an effect...Every group has its influential leaders, who can often (not always, but often) make an issue prominent or marginalize it. Why should library issues be an exception?

After another exchange, Seth did a terrible thing: He convinced me I was wrong. [example snipped] ...

I was denying the significance of the A-list as gatekeepers by pointing out that I'm not part of the library A-list but nonetheless pretty good at making my voice heard. To which Seth responded, "Of course not (`primarily from Walt at Random'). You're a well-known writer and columnist in the field... That's the source of your power. Similarly, there are blogs that are very highly ranked generally because of the author's `rock star' status, not particularly because of what he or she writes on the blog. Some people have influential and/or widely-read blogs because they are (local) celebrities, and some people are (local) celebrities because they have influential and/or widely-read blogs. Cause and effect varies."

There's more. But I'll just say: Thanks! It's impressive to see such a willingness to incorporate reactions into one's thinking (would that certain others follow suit ...)

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on November 27, 2005 11:46 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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And if you became the alternate voice of the A-list where people go to get out the echo chamber how do you plan to stay true?

Success can suck. In fact be a destructive vortex.

Be careful what you wish for.

Even worse you wouldn't be z-list anymore :-)

Posted by: Ian at November 28, 2005 02:18 AM

You're entirely welcome. At my age, deliberately maintaining an openness to new ideas--which also means being open to the idea that I'm mistaken about something--is an important way to avoid mental rigidity.

On the other hand, mental rigidity would probably be a good career move if I was aiming to be a pundit: Predictability is so comforting to readers and listeners.

Posted by: walt at November 28, 2005 12:13 PM

Ian: As the saying goes, "All I ask is the chance to prove that money won't make me happy!". Success may not solve all one's problems, or even may create new ones, but there's no nobility in lack of success.

walt: Predictability is sadly one aspect of much A-listery - telling people what they want to hear :-(

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at November 28, 2005 11:53 PM