I think we forget just how meritocratic the blogosphere really is. It’s very easy to get all bulverist and assume that Xs readers only agree with X over you because X is popular, but actually we are broadly judged on our content, and that’s exactly the way it should be.
Lazily copied from Dictionary.com:
"An elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth."
"Rule by persons chosen not because of birth or wealth, but for their superior talents or intellect"
Well, okay yea, I guess so. I cannot reasonably argue that popular bloggers are popular by nobility and they clearly have some talent for attracting the masses. So there is talent. But talent for what? Attracting masses. That's the only general talent we can attach. Specific bloggers may attract said masses by many means. Some offer useful advice on classes, quests, economics, talents, whatever. I avoid these blogs at all cost. Some offer thought-provoking posts about where things came from and where they are headed, looking a lot at the developers. Some offer emotionally or socially relevant commentary or reflection.
And then some are just some jackass ranting about whoever he hates that week. Strangely enough, hate is popular, creating us vs. them scenarios for people to rally behind. These are popular and when popularity is the only measure available, they sure look meritocraticus. That doesn't make them in any way worthwhile and it doesn't mean that any world, whether virtual or real, is better for their existence (I mean the blog, I'm not suggesting the the actual bloggers are world-destroying sociopaths). So yes, we are "judged on our content", but when the person judging is looking for someone to rally around in a flurry of generic hate at imaginary enemies, maybe that's not a very good judge.
Net meritocracy. I didn't create the title to refer to the internet and popularity on it, though it does work. Instead I want to complain about advertising and its role in ruining the wonderfulness which would otherwise theoretically be the free market.
Companies and products do not succeed or fail based solely on the quality of their product or service, the relative value, or any other rational measure that we could pick. Instead they survive to a large degree based on their ability to lie and deceive. This is called advertising. Ideally it would inform consumers, but ideally capitalism would have made us all rich as hell and communism wouldn't have been used to kill millions of people, so clearly we're not in an ideal world.
Companies cannot simply make a good product. They must advertise it, market it, go to great lengths just to let people know their product exists. This means that the best product or service does not win. Instead the best advertised product, given a certain unknown ratio of crap compared to the good product, will win. Imagine that two companies make drugs which help keep you awake. One sells a new chemical which has no side-effects and can keep you awake longer for the same dosage and has a modest ad budget focused mostly on facts. The other sells repackaged meth with an awesome ad campaign, some viral marketing, and celebrities visiting kids at schools. Which do you think is going to win the market share battle? Yea, the second company.
This is what I mean by net meritocracy. It is not merely the meritocracy of technology, but also the meritocracy of the marketing, which determines the "net meritocracy."
If we are attempting to rationally buy quality products, the entire second half of that net is worthless to us. In fact, it may be more than worthless, it may actively harm our quest for the first half. Advertising is money not spent on research and testing. Instead it is money spent tricking people. When shareholders demand maximized value they aren't demanding quality products. They are demanding sales. So the person in search of a good product is set back; the good product which might exist is instead not available yet, because that portion of the R&D budget was instead spent to hire really hot women to rub the product on themselves for a camera. This does not add value. Better porn can be found for free without needing advertising for shitty products.
Let's loop back to me arbitrarily insulting Tamarind for things he cannot choose, such as Europe and bipolarstupid disorder. The blogosphere may indeed be a meritocracy, but when the only measure is a popularity contest, we should be careful to avoid thinking that a meritocracy is actually useful. Besides, we all know that popular people are Hitler or the Antichrist.
In unrelated news, this comment at PPI strikes me as a bit hypocritical and dickish. Or does it?
I think a lot of you need to stop admiring yourselves so much.
Nothing any one of you writes is going to alter my opinion of what another one of you writes.
I could care less of your opinions of each other.
Tam, you wrote a very good article. It kept my interest till the end. Nice to see you about.
Suicidal Zebra, never heard of you. Apparently you don't miss Tam. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. REMEMBER THAT. It applies to others as well as yourself.
Also, "could care less" implies a positive care level (assuming care cannot be less than zero, with zero being total indifference or lack of awareness). "Could not care less" implies an entirely empty care cup.
As for the "stop admiring yourselves so much" bit, I'm sorry, but it takes a certain level of self-esteem and self-admiration to think that one's ideas are worth putting out there, not merely to tell a friend or scribble it in a journal. It's somewhere in the murky realm between self-pity and arrogance. So yea, bloggers have a higher opinion of themselves and their own ideas than others. That is why we write our own posts rather than constantly reposting those of others. The obvious exception is Ms Huffington and the like who take the contrarian positions of believing themselves to be the arbiters of what is worth reading and are actually mentally incapable of writing, much as Mr. Zoolander was for a long time not bi-directional in his turning.
My point is that if you're going to wander into a place where people put in some effort to tell everyone what they think, they're going to think a lot of what they think.