This is funny. I've been busy this week and while I've been looking at the web and finding lots of good, linkable bits to blog about, I haven't really found the time to sit down and gather them all in a linkdump. Well now here I am at work on a Thursday night -- covering for a coworker -- and it's slow and have the web here and I'm all set to post some links for your collective amusement, and I see that Warren Ellis has called for an end to linkblogging. As Gerry Canavan wrote when he saw Ellis' post, "thanks a lot, y'all, it's been fun."
Yeah, I've got to call good ol' Warren out on this one. I actually think his assessment of the function and place of linkblogs is basically right, but his conclusions are all wrongity wrong wrong. Ellis writes...
I think this is basically right. There's so much content out there, it's sometimes hard to know where to begin looking for interesting, worthwhile stuff. Google, Technorati and other search filters help, but these tools by themselves lack an essential quality for curation -- taste. Google can help you search by words and phrases and secondarily by popularity, but its not discriminating -- it can't tell you what's "good." This is where linkbloggers come in. They're out there on the web looking at lots of stuff and linking to what they think is worth sharing -- what they think is "good." There are all sorts of different linkblogs. Some are group blogs (the afore mentioned Boing Boing, Metafilter), some are individuals who comment extensively on what they're linking to (Gerry Canavan, Accordion Guy, Candleblog), and some just post links without any comment at all (Web Zen, Dear S, the late great Gravity Lens ).
Linkblogs are actually my favorite kind of blog. They give me what I want from the internet, by which I mean: they give me everything that's interesting. If the links are presented in an entertaining way, so much the better, but it's the function of curation that is key. Here's where Ellis goes off track...
I think Warren may be projecting a bit here. He is a writer, after all, and a linkblogger himself -- a particularly popular one. Do you suppose he's beating himself up for "wasting" so much time blogging when he could be, you know, writing? If so, he should cut himself a little slack. I know his blog more than his writing, but it certainly seems like he's very prolific. To address his point, sure, it would be great if all of the writers and filmmakers and artists would procrastinate less and spend more time creating their art, but does Ellis really think the only thing keeping Cory Doctorow from writing twice as many books is Boing Boing? Speaking as a content creator, I can truthfully say I've used Candleblog as a procrastination tool before -- in fact, one could make the case that I'm doing that very thing right now -- but before I had Candleblog, I found other avenues for my procrastination. The problem isn't my blog, it's my will to work.
Also, not every linkblogger is a content creator -- many are just smart people with good taste. What should these folks do to occupy their time that is better than linking to things they think are interesting?
- And, frankly, no-one’s going to do a better job of being the internet’s copy/paste editors than the BB crew anyway. They have the time, they have the money, they have the setup, they have the audience and they have the momentum of nearly a decade in the job. Nobody needs another linkblog like that. There are already thousands of them. The job of curation is being taken care of. Look ahead.
I loves me some Boing Boing. I read it every day. The Boingers are indeed partially responsible for the form that Candleblog has taken, and some not insignificant fraction of the outgoing links that get posted at Candleblog were found at BB. Still, Candleblog is not a BB clone. As interested as I am in copyfight and cool gadgets and steampunk culture, the Boingers' interests and tastes only reflect my own so much. And as distinct from Boing Boing as Candleblog is, I'm positive there are scads of linkblogs out there that are much more so. I read about a dozen blogs regularly and at least half of them are linkblogs of one shade or another. I don't only read BB because BB doesn't cover everything I'm interested in. There are occasional duplicate links (this is pretty rare, actually), but even these are presented in different ways and often offer more persectives on a given item.
Ellis goes on to make the (correct) point that it's easier than ever for content creators to publish their works (using pre-fab tools like tumblr) and it's also very easy to get your content linked to (precisely because there are so many effing linkblogs) so, one infers, we should all stop wasting our time linking to stuff and start creating some content.
In his last paragraph Ellis admits that these ideas are "not fully baked," probably realizing there's a problem in the logic above: i.e., if we content creators all stop linkblogging and start creating original content because it's so easy to get said content linked to, what with all the linkbloggers, there would then be fewer linkbloggers (because they will have all stopped blogging and started creating) and it would be harder to get your work linked to. Or something.
Anyway, following his call to end linkblogs, Ellis promptly posted a selection of links -- more evidence that he doesn't really believe the things he writes.