Insofar as possible, I’m reading everything that’s being written about my recent dustup with Bookslut, who got hopping mad at what I said over the weekend about link-poaching. Too many people have chimed in for me to link to all their comments, though you can find most of the best ones by trolling the “Sites to See” module of the right-hand column, which you should be doing anyway.
It’s been especially interesting to note the sharp division of opinion between bloggers who, like Our Girl and me, believe in the concept of a blogosphere whose participants use links to “freely share ideas and readers with one another, and in so doing increase their own value” (my words), and those stalwart individualists who reject the idea of the blogosphere as virtual community. It’s odd that I should be in the former category, since I’m no kind of communitarian, but this particular aspect of the blogosphere has seemed self-evident to me ever since I first started thinking about how blogging works (which was two or three years before I launched “About Last Night,” by the way). Linking and blogrolling are what differentiate blogs from old media–and this difference, it seems to me, is the whole point of blogging.
Interesting, too, is the intensity with which certain bloggers continue to express their loathing for the way in which certain other bloggers make friendly mention of one another. Clearly, this reflects a divergence of taste that no amount of civility will narrow: some folks just don’t like it, and that’s that. Me, I like it very much, and I don’t see it as clubby or exclusionary, much less snobbish. Sure, I have my favorites, but without exception they’re people whom I got to “know” in cyberspace, solely and only through their work (though I’ve been lucky enough to meet a half-dozen of them in the flesh, and hope to meet many more). They’re my cast of characters, and I try to write about them in such a way as to make my readers want to get to know them, too. As I’ve said more than once, I think that’s part of the fun of blogging–not just for bloggers themselves, but for those who read us as well. It personalizes blogging. It strengthens the feeling of community. Above all, it encourages our readers to visit other blogs.
Finally, a few bloggers seem to disapprove of those of us who take an interest in the amount of traffic we draw. That puzzles me. I don’t write posts in order to draw traffic–it doesn’t work–but I’m always delighted when new people visit “About Last Night,” and why on earth shouldn’t I be? I think blogging is good. I want more people to do it. I think it’ll be good for the world of art if they do. What’s wrong with that? And who’s being clubby now? I’m an elitist, but I don’t believe in the we-happy-few mentality: I want everybody who can swim to jump in the pool.
At any rate, I’ll close by repeating something I can’t say often enough, which is that the regular readers of this blog are great people, smart and attentive and a joy to hear from. So are most of the bloggers featured in the right-hand column–but, then, Our Girl and I don’t add blogs to “Sites to See” because their proprietors are charming. We do it because we believe that what they write is worth reading, right or wrong, nice or nasty. Even when they dump on us.