Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Stop Telling Me About the “Top Blogs”

I was reading this research paper about collaborative tagging (which Arienna was so nice as to email me a link to) and I realized why I’m sick of all these “top lists.” (For those that haven’t been following, there’s been a lot of hubbub lately about lists of top bloggers/blogs. There’s been arguments from both sides about the relevance of these kinds of lists.)

Anyway, what I realized first is that these lists are not “top lists,” in the sense that they’re rankings. They are in no way claiming that these are the best blogs around. Rather, and I think this is what most people forget, these are lists which are speaking specifically to a site’s influence. Boing Boing, for example, tops so many lists because it’s reader base goes out and blogs the links they share, giving them credit in return.

With that fact in mind, just creating these lists is pushing forward the very things blogging claims to be standing in opposition to: Mainly the mass influence of a few mainstream media institutions. These lists create a cycle. First you develop yourself as influential, then everyone touts your influence, thereby making you more influential and further separating you from the rest of the pack. Now I don’t have a major problem with this because I believe that the number of voices available on the infinite internet spectrum has the ability to outweigh these few, increasingly influential, blogs. However, I do think that this stuff needs to be discussed. It needs to be admitted that these lists are propagating an ideology that many of us are fighting as outdated.

Am I crazy, or are too few people talking about this part of it?

August 22, 2005