Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Linkposts

I track about 125 feeds now in bloglines:

BoardGameGeek feeds
Distractions: comics, ethics, literature, other entertainment
Games: about 60 game blogs
Israel: news and opinions about Israel from all sides of the spectrum
News: general news sites
Tech: information on tech news, science, and IP

One thing I can't understand is why the most popular blogs are the ones that basically have no content but simply comment on articles from elsewhere. They all follow a familiar pattern: some sort of introductory statement, followed by a link to the other article or blog. Occasionally an indented extract from that article or blog, and then some affirmative or snide comments about the content.

Oh, everyone throws in an outside link occasionally, but these are the most popular blogs, folks. Kind of makes you wonder. Is it that these blogs are doing such fine work for us by helping us find the articles we want to read without having to wade through the Internet? Bringing to our attention items of interest that we may otherwise have missed? Sounds ok, but so many of these links are to other blogs. Or are we all more interested in opinion than substance?

Another ... I don't know if I would say argument ... but another item to consider is that when an issue is raised in a blog or article, different people link and cross-link to this issue, adding their own opinions. Witness the recent debate about "critical game reviews". This is kind of like a "blogforum"; a lot more effort than a normal forum, but longer posts.

I'm sure when blogs are first created, the majority of them are about new material. After a while, most die out, either because the writer didn't realize that keeping it going requires work, or because the writer no longer had anything to say. A lot of the ones that reach this situation, but don't die, stay alive by commenting on what other people write.

What percent of material on all blogs is newly created material, and what percent is links and comments on other material? Question: how much commentary does there have to be in a "linkpost" before you consider it "new material"?

I am reminded of the two types of "things" that can be copyrighted: original works, and "arrangements" of other people's original works. I never really thought the latter was particularly deserving of copyright protection, and this situation adds fuel to that opinion. It is easy to make arrangements, and it is rare, in my opinion, for those arrangements to be something entirely non-obvious or "with artistic merit".

Of course, what do I care? I also throw in an occasional outside link. Something is just ... wrong about so many blogs doing this full time.

Yehuda

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a problem that existed long before blogs. I used to lament that many of the more populart websites were simply those that linked to other websites rather than provided (much) original content themselves.

Having said this, I don't actually agree that this is the case with the current crop of gaming related blogs. I've been quite impressed with the quality and quantity of original thought and discourse.

Yehuda said...

I agree with you about gaming blogs, although the linkcreep is beginning. Gamers always have conventions, new games, and session reports to write about. I am mainly refering to the most popular blogs, in general.

Still, people like it, so give the people what they want. I also read Slashdot and Techdirt - are these the new Yahoo and Google?

Look at the top 200 most popular blogs on bloglines. How many of them start off each post with a link to somewhere else, followed by commentary?

Is this the new meme society? Is it good or bad?

Mikko Saari said...

I guess Boing Boing is one of the more popular blogs, and it's all about links to the curious and interesting stuff around the net. I like it, and that's because I like what the editors are doing.

That's the key with link blogs, I think - if the editing is good enough, the result will be interesting. If there's no editorial line, it's just a bag of links and hardly interesting. Of the stuff that Boing Boing links to, most manage to pique my interest.

I wouldn't mind a good gaming link blog, but then again, I don't think there are quite enough gaming blogs yet - it's easy enough to follow a large part of the gaming blogs oneself, there's no need someone to edit the best of it. That said, I still think it would be a good idea to start a blog like that, I know I would read it...

Coldfoot said...

I was just writing an entry about Bloglines.

Reader's Digest has been the most popular magazine in several different languages for many decades. They merely republish the best stories from other publications. Very little of their content is original.

Cookbooks are merely compilations of older cookbooks. Fitness books are compilations of older fitness books. Neither has much new content, yet both are consistantly best sellers.

I think this is an old phenomenon in a new medium.