The idea that links are the capital of the blogosphere seems so obvious that you would think an economist like Atrios of Eschaton would have realized it long ago. And as he is a progressive who has accumulated quite a bit of link wealth, you might also think he would be in favor of redistributing some of that wealth instead of just letting it trickle down. So when he announced last year that he was declaring February 3 Blogroll Amnesty Day, and other bloggers followed suit, I assumed he meant that he was opening his blogroll up to the masses…
When February 3 rolled around, many bloggers discovered to their horror that instead of adding new blogs to his blogroll he was throwing many off, including some bloggers who were his longtime friends. Blogroll Amnesty Day, it turned out, was a very Orwellian concept. Instead of granting amnesty to others he was granting amnesty to himself not to feel bad for hurting others feelings. Though Atrios has stubbornly refused to acknowledge that he made a mistake, some bloggers who initially joined him, backtracked. Markos of the Daily Kos instituted a second blogroll that consisted of random links from diarists. PZ Myers of Pharyngula now has real Blogroll Amnesty Days where he invites anyone who has blogrolled him to join his blogroll. And in the wake of the bloodletting quite a number of smaller blogs, like my friend skippy the bush kangaroo, changed their own blogroll policies and now link more freely to others.
Ironically, Blogroll Amnesty Day had a net positive effect for the blogosphere as a whole. I discovered a number of great blogs and made new friends and I am sure that is true for others as well. And so instead of remembering February 3 as a day that will live in infamy, let’s turn this day into a celebration of the power of smaller blogs. Let’s recognize that building an inclusive community of diverse voices is what the blogosphere should be about, not creating a new elite to replace the old mainstream media elite.
I didn’t have much of a horse in the race on the original Big Progressive Blogospheric Blogroll Bloodbath of a year ago. (Although I occasionally blog about the ways politics impinge on science, education, or academia, I wouldn’t describe myself as a political blogger.) But, I think that the blogosphere is (or could be) different from media wherein news and commentary is “broadcast” to an audience by allowing back and forth communication — the kind of thing that works best when there’s a healthy community of people taking part in the conversation.
I want to hear the voices that are new to the conversation, or the ones that are speaking in the quieter corners that the high-traffic bloggers sometimes don’t notice. I want to hear from people whose experiences have differed from my own in interesting ways. (This is not to say that I don’t want to be in conversation with people who have had similar experiences — that’s important in a community, too.) I don’t want blogospheric hierarchies telling me who’s worth reading any more than I want network news producers telling me what stories I should care about.
Help me find the blogs that I ought to be reading. (This may include your blog — don’t be shy about telling me so!)
You’ll notice that my blogroll is heavily weighted toward sciences, philosophy, and academia. (Also, it’s been needing an update for months, to take care of new URLs, dead links, and additions.) If you know of an “unsung hero” that fits into my existing categories, or one that’s so good I ought to be reading it even if it doesn’t fit these categories, drop me a comment and let me know about it.
I wish I could read all the good blogs I already know about (and all the good ones you’re going to tell me about) every day, but the day job and the family keep me busy. So I’m also grateful if you email me links to your must-read posts. If I really like them (and I’m not grading a zillion papers), I’ll tag them for my periodic “link list” posts.