Hugh on gapingVoid today announces the death of the A list blogger in an excellent post that touts networks over ... um ... people with bigger networks.
His premise is based on a semi-lament by Robert Scoble the other day.
One trend that bloggers don’t want to talk about? A number of my blogging friends have seen their traffic go down lately. They assume that their readers are off in social networks. I think they are absolutely right.
For once I disagree with Robert. I DO want to talk about it. Because I actually concur with Robert's thesis. And I am utterly delighted to do so.
In the past, say, from the late 'nineties until the last six-twelve months or so, Bloggers' readership grew IN PROPORTION to the social networks that were built up around them. Hence the phenomenon of the "A-List".
But if we're honest, looking back, it was always these circumventing social networks that were the really interesting part of the equation. The actual blogger in question, less so. Even if in our celebrity-worshiping culture, we sometimes forgot that.
Then suddenly, along comes stuff like Twitter and Facebook... et Voila! Suddenly, social networks start being successfully created without the "A-Listers" having to act like "Hubs" [or "Human Social Objects", if you want to get REALLY technical]. Suddenly, the need for A-listers to arbitrate "Who the Cool Kids are" [and who they aren't] is rapidly and thankfully diminished.
But in a comment to that post Scoble responds:
death to the a list? Well in two weeks I have gotten 2000 friends on facebook and 600 on pownce.
Posted by: Robert Scoble at July 5, 2007 3:41 AM
This truly made me laugh.
In the first place, after several years of blogging and having web sites before that and zines before that, I can tell you one thing.
People go outside during the summer
Readership goes down, TV viewership goes down, people go to the beach, they go to baseball games, they exercise.
Every summer my readership has lagged since 1982 when I started my first zine. So get over your own bad selves, it's summer! Go get a chocolate malt and set on the steps!
Beyond that, A listers are nodes in a network. Even if I consciously discriminate against an A lister in my direct network, someone within my network inevitably will not. Therefore, even filtered, their influence will be felt by me. So fear not the A lister, for it is that A lister that links your network to all the other networks and gives you something to filter in the first place.
A listers are hubs, but not filters. Your network is the filter. A listers like Arrington are your big end of the funnel. And I'm sure both Michael and Robert would agree.