Andrew over at TallSkinnyKiwi has picked up on Technorati’s recent State of the Blogosphere Part 2 report. He notes the often discussed long tail, which simply means that most traffic goes to a small number of “A-list” bloggers and that the rest of us are caught in a very long tail of relatively small (or tiny) traffic. Andrew goes on to discuss power laws as a structural given. With this in mnd he asks some interesting theological questions (such as What is the relation between the hierarchical modularity of a complex system and what is found within the triune complexity of the Godhead?).
I’ve been following this idea of the long tail for some time, mainly because Hugh at Gapingvoid has been discussing it over several recent posts. I think today he has hit on a far more interesting aspect of the Technorati report, namely the Magic Middle.
Sure we have a blog A-list, that is no surprise. If you look at the church-blog-scene, the A-list mirrors the existing power/gatekeeping structures. The A-listers have the book contracts, the speaking engagements, etc etc. What is really interesting, is the next step down, the bloggers with between 20-1000 incoming links, the Magic Middle, the B-list, which globally represents about 155,000 blogs (for all blogs, not just religious ones). It is here where we are seeing something interesting, here were we are seeing a rewriting of the existing structures of authority, market and reach. As Hugh Macleod puts it,
“The very top blogs [The "A-List"] will start collectively resembling old media more and more, as the money involved for doing so gets more significant. But the Magic Middle [call it the B-List, if you will] will be the realm of the global microbrand.”
It’s in this magic middle that we are seeing a breaking out of existing discoursive structures. It is here where the small church, the local educator, the niche business are able to find a new global market without depending up on the existing hierachies and gatekeepers. This is the really encouraging news for smaller bloggers. This is where the blogosphere is helping us break the tryanny of localism. This is the interesting news.
It is also where I would like to see us ask theological questions. Instead of being in thrall to power, to A-lists and to top -down hierachies, maybe we should start by looking at what is going on in this magic middle.
[tags] Blogs, Magic Middle, Power Laws, Theology and Culture [/tags]