The Blogosphere: a free-market anarchy

Jennifer Howard writes in the Washington Post that although blogs are democratic, they are too inbred. [via Instapundit]

It was a cool idea, a fresh kind of media democracy for a new-media world.[...]

But to get to the good stuff, you have to wade through more and more self-congratulation and mutual admiration. Call it blogrolling.

bazaar2.jpgThere is absolutely nothing democratic about blogs. Rather, the blogosphere is the ultimate free-market anarchy. Bloggers are vendors and ideas are their wares. Readers who spend their time reading blogs are free to choose which blogs they visit, and they are free to never come back again, just like the customer who never re-visits the restaurant that served him cold pasta.

Readers cannot themselves change the content of a blog. That would be democratic. They cannot force the articles and opinions to be more to their liking. The blog is the steadfast possession of the blogger. Yet, it is the readers who have the ultimate power of which blogger 'gets rich' and which one does not. Just as avoidance, boycott, and shunning can be as effective mechanisms for social change as more coercive methods, so too can cold-shoulders in mass numbers mean the immediate downfall of a previously successful blogger.

There are no licenses or certification needed for blogging; instead, reputation is the ultimate credential. There are no regulators "serving the people" by deciding what can be written and what cannot.

Whereas democracy coercively shuts out unpopular choices, the blogosphere, like a free-market, gives rise to niche markets. I have never heard of any of the blogs cited by Howard, and I am sure she has likely never heard of Catallarchy. Is this 'too cozy'? Or does it reflect the fact that the almost unlimited choices available in this market allow individuals to find other individuals of similar tastes no matter how particular those tastes are? Yes, bloggers often link to other blogs of similar mind, but this is not a consanguineous failure of the blogosphere to explore new ideas. Instead, it is the natural course of a truly diversified marketplace of ideas.

For those of us who hold ideas that lie largely outside the mainstream, the blogosphere is a new market in which to grow. After being shut out of the traditional media for so long, the blogosphere gives us a cart in the global village bazaar of political thought from which to sell our principles to the common man. And like any good entrepreneurs, we will be successful if we understand the nature of the market and the preferences of our customers.

Follow-up: The blogosphere: a kosmos

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Great response. It inspired

Great response. It inspired me to write some more on this meta topic, and I usually hate writing about meta anything.

Spot on analysis,

Spot on analysis, Jonathan.

This isn't the first time I've read someone describe blogs as 'democratic' and the people who make this claim never seem to justify it. Thank goodness blogs aren't democratic - they wouldn't be much use as a source of diverse opinion and information and non-mainstream ideas if they were. Bloggers have the final say on what appears at their blogs and for any particular blog the blog-owner or editor is dictator of the content.

"There are no licenses or

"There are no licenses or certification needed for blogging.... There are no regulators... deciding what can be written and what cannot."

This is at the heart of why "professional" journalists so resent the internet. As Bill O'Reilly whined, "anybody can go on the internet and say anything."

Of course like-minded people

Of course like-minded people link to and appreciate other like-minded people. Blogging is a social activity and is going to have the same popularity contests that occur in other social arenas, however, no one has to know your race, religion, height, or sexual orientation unless you chose to reveal it.

There is nothing stopping an individual from exploring new blogs. Sometimes I go to Atrios and randomly click the blogroll just to keep myself from only reading libertarian sites. It's my responsibility to expand my horizons, and there is ample opportunity to do so.

A free-market anarchy, or a

A free-market anarchy, or a catallarchy?


(i.e., spontaneous order is the ruling principle)

Imagine a spherical mirror.

Imagine a spherical mirror. Jennifer Howard peers into it and sees--a distorted vision of her cozy, bookish, cliquish self. Surprise!

Interesting meta-blogging

Interesting meta-blogging post. I too enjoy the niches that have been developed within the blogging community.

one funny thing is lately I've figured how to make my blog profitable by serving ads from google. I have to admit that this has influenced the nature of what I write about. If anything, it's made it much more focused into it's niche.




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