... and that may or may not be a good thing, depending on the day or the issue.
The latest edition of Outside the Perimeter: Fragments delves into the question of whether the Delaware blogosphere is becoming more fragmented and less cohesive than before. kavips is difficult to excerpt, because s/he develops complex arguments that defy short quotations, so go read it for yourself.
Then come back and read on.
kavips stimulates me to two responses:
1) The blogosphere is a self-organizing network that is inherently non-linear and chaotic. Translation: a bunch of people with too much time on their hands, an inflated sense that the world needs to hear their opinions, and vastly different interests have a common medium for inflicting themselves of willing victims. I suspect that cohesion (such as the DE blogosphere experienced long-term over windpower and short-term over eminent domain) is the exception rather than the rule. Too much of the rest of the time our interests don't coalesce, because (thankfully) there's nobody directing the band. I tend to look at such occasional disappearance of fragmentation as a valuable rarity; I don't expect more.
2) I think we still over-value our own importance. If you take the five political blogs in Delaware with the highest daily traffic, I suspect (and I have some preliminary research to back up the suspicion) that you would find fewer than 1,000 absolutely unique visitors reading those blogs. Some of those visitors--maybe Mascitti or Selander--are in a position to take something they read to a broader audience; most aren't. Those thousand people (not all of whom will be from Delaware, by the way), are a wide spectrum in themselves, with widely different political and social views. Some read for entertainment, others love to stir the pot. The actual activists and doers among them are a small percentage.
Until we find a way to increase blog readership in Delaware to a daily average of, say, 5-10,000 visitors, we will not see any form of consistency emerge. And that form of consistency will emerge as a market-driven product. Those blogs producing the kinds of material that people want to read will gain high readership. Without a band leader or (thank God) a fairness doctrine for blogs, it could not happen any other way.
How do we increase that readership? Tricky question. Pretty much only some form of advertising or marketing will do so (hence the proposed radio spots over at DL). Free media is going to be tough, because neither the Snooze Journal or the State Rag really wants to give a plug to its competition. Why read the Snooze when you already know what it will report about state politics two days earlier if you read the blogs?
And increasing readership will bring its own changes, not all of them comfortable to this small community, where everybody pretty much knows (and knows how to insult) everybody else, from sock-puppets to trolls. The very edgy feel that we all enjoy--including the inside jokes and the freedom from censorship of offensive humor--is probably going to disappear as success fills the pages with members of the Women's Temperance League.
It's a complicated question, for which I neither have an answer nor a good closing line for this post.