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September 15, 2006

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ali


i write for urban moms.
and i am NOT urban.

just sayin'

bubandpie

Since the discussion has expanded to include commenting etiquette, thought I'd throw in my two cents (bringing my total contributions up to somewhere around $1,341.52 worth of comments on this post - well beyond my budget, I think, but oh well).

The thing about reading-and-commenting etiquette is that no one wants to be read or commented to out of a pure sense of duty. So I don't do that - if I comment it's because I have something to say or, occasionally, because I simply want the person to know that I value the post, though I have nothing to add to it. (Those "throw-away" comments are sometimes the biggest compliment, I think, because personally I hate feeling lame and saying nothing more than "great post" - I'll only do it if I'm really driven to by the sheer greatness of the post.)

That said, I'm insatiably curious about who's reading my blog, so it seems natural to me to click back and say hi. One thing I've been realizing since writing my own post on this subject is that it's a bit of a difficult transition for some people when it's no longer feasible to visit all their readers - they feel guilty and arrogant and they also just miss out on the thrill of discovering new blogs. In that small way, at least, high-traffic blogging is not necessarily always more fun than low-traffic blogging.

And I so deeply appreciate Merry Mama's reference to my kindness (it's as thrilling for me to be called "kind" these days as it once was to be called "brilliant" - does that mean I've matured?). But I really don't think I'm kinder than anyone else. I comment a lot because I have the time. My kids take long naps (no stone-throwing please - I have paid my dues to the Nap Gods, believe me!) and I have a job that right now requires almost nothing of me. As Scarbie said, sometimes other things come before commenting obligations - like, say, sleeping and - oh yeah! - spending time with our babies.

Mom101

I hate nothing more than being misquoted so here I am again.

Andrea, I'm not saying that "people find people like themselves interesting." I am saying that IN THE BLOGWORLD, where people come to find community, they are INTERESTED in people with experiences like themselves. I find a shitload of topics and people interesting that you can't even imagine. But I don't read blogs about all of them.

Know why?

BECAUSE I DON'T LIVE IN THE BLOG WORLD.

That's right - I know it's crazy, but I do have a life outside of this insular little community.

I read magazines and newspapers for information. I look at websites. I even (here's the crazy thing) hang out with REAL PEOPLE from time to time.

So do I spend all my time seeking out the blogs of lesbian parents? Nope. My best friend and her friends cover that area for me just fine. (Which isn't to say I don't sometimes stumble upon one that I enjoy and continue to read.)

So what I do read online is...(once again) what interests me. Great writing. Compelling narratives. Interesting discussions about all kinds of topics. And yep, people going through similar life experiences as I am right now.

So sue me.

Her Bad Mother's Mother 'Hood

Coupla things... (largely in response to Scarbie - hello Scarbie!)

(waving)

1) Covert ads: I think that we are all in agreement that covert advertising - in which a blogger shills something without being upfront about it - is dodgy. Much discussed at BlogHer, much maligned. But I don't know of any blog where it actually happens.

2) Links: I'm big on links. But when I do it in a regular post (i.e., not in a follow up to a writing prompt) it's almost entirely in the spirit of attribution. As an academic, I live in terror of not properly crediting my sources. Links allow me to provide credit to those posts or whatevers that have contributed to my thinking or prompted questions or whatever. Rarely do I link to 'recommend' - but when I do, it's usually as part of the Perfect Posts award. THIS blog (at urbanmoms), might look like one long recommend, and it will certainly do that at times, but it's my playground for exploring new (to me) Canadian blogs and I like the spirit of that. Yes, making recommendations involves an element of 'power,' but I don't see a big problem here. I'd be lost without lit mags and the NY Review of books for recs on fiction - I myself rely upon recommendations.

3) I don't see how urbanmoms undermines blogging. My blow here is entirely my own - it's my space to write about things that I don't have the space or inclination to put on my own blog. It's another forum for me, and one that allows me to do more promoting of Canadian mom blogs.

4) I don't think there was a 4. Oh well.


Ann D

Holy cow! It's a good thing we've got a big country -- big enough to hold all these comments. :-)

I responded to a bunch of the awesome comments that people left on my blog -- plus I hopped around on other people's blogs reponding to this thread (until 4:30 am!) on Sunday morning.

This has been such a lively and passionate discussion.

And I really thank Jen and Catherine for the additional comments they posted here since I last checked in.

Just one little clarification on my perspective: I don't have any issue whatsoever with anyone making money off her words on or off the web. (That shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, eh?) So unlike some people who hate blog ads on principle (or because they clash with the blog decor) I don't have a problem with them. If they pay the bills, go for it.

What I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (HATE) are marketers who are less than upfront about their intentions -- or who try to interrupt the conversations between moms because they see the value of those conversations and they want in on the action. Mom 101 asked me about this in a post on my blog and I gave an example of a company that I am aware of that has a large network of moms who market products to other moms on behalf of third parties. I just thought of another example, so I'm going to post about that, too.

I do want to say that I am so impressed by the passion people feel for the momosphere. I kind of feel like hugging my laptop.....

Ann

scarbie doll

I kinda want to comment, but then I don't. But then I kinda do.

I do, somewhat, feel like blogging and popularity amounts to a bit of a pyramid scheme. Self-promotion, as mentioned, plays a big part. If you comment, then I follow the link below your comment and leave you a comment, and so on and so on. It's a bit like a chain letter -- if you don't do it, your blog will be cursed for decades! Comments are like never-ending Thank You notes. It takes a LOT of time and energy to keep that up, and I'd rather be with my kid -- or sleeping. I figure I'll just do my thing and if people want to come they will. Call it my Field of Dreams.

Links are necessary to help people find new blogs. If So & So likes Mommy X, then maybe they are good. Let me go see... nah, that's just pity linkage. Oh, this one is funny! And she lives in my city! I think that links are important in that respect.

But I'm torn. The reason I don't have links anymore is because people get offended if you don't link to them. And if I'm providing an editorial viewpoint and directing people to places they should go, well frankly, not all blogs are equal. I'm trying to avoid the "But DoggyDoo is my coworker, so I have to link to him or he'll notice and be offended."

I don't think these issues are limited to Mom Blogs. I'm sure that D&DLover1 is jealous of SuperD&DLover's traffic and comments too. It's just more apparent in the female world where this kind of behaviour has followed us since the sandbox. Oh, and we don't internalize. Well, bloggers don't anyway.

I do take issue with things like, oh, that a site called "Urban Moms" professes to be THE voice of "Canadian moms." Not all Canadian moms are "urban." In fact I would argue that more than half the country is not "urban." However the big spenders in the country are most definitely urban. So I support Ann D's comments about this type of site taking away from the true goodness of original honest blogging.

Moms need to make money too, no question. I am happy when women start their own businesses and succeed. But using the "Hey, guess what? I used Product X and it got the shit stains out of the sleeper in a jiff" voice when clearly, even if you like Product X it's Product Y that's paying your mortgage... well that fucks the whole honesty thing up, doesn't it? Just so everyone knows, I majored in BullShit, so don't even go there ;)

Also, the face of this urban mom is a wavy-haired white woman. (Well I guess she's orange technically, so don't get your Molotov's out for that comment). Is it because we would think the site is not meant for "us" if we saw and Asian or Black cartoon and go somewhere else?

I came here for the show, but I ain't buying any of the popcorn, alright? I don't want to go to a Bacardi-sponsored girls' night. Even if HerBM is going to be there with free tattoos.

Thanks, as usual, for getting us sleep-deprived mamas to let the hamster run a few laps in the ol' noggin. At the end of the day, there are way bigger problems in the world than the annoying aspects of blogging and being a web-savvy mom.

merry mama

Though I do agree with Andrea on the Patriarchy thing-I had the exact same thought when I first dove in feet first into the momosphere- one thing I have to say is that yes, you are informed, yes you are a great writer, you are engaging, and funny and kind. That, to me, is the point. And (unfortunately for me, but not anyone else) I have not necessarily encountered that with other popular mommy bloggers. I didn't go to high school (too busy being a polygamist wife when I was a kid) so I cannot relate to that analogy. But I do know kindness when I see it and I do know there are people (such as Bub and Pie) who have gone out of their proverbial paths to visit a nobody like me... she is what I would consider a somewhat popular blogger.. and educated, and a good writer...you are that, too. But the overwhelming majority of popular bloggers may visit my site once and see that there are no comments, or perhaps that my writing sucks- I'm not sure which-- I'd love to know- and then move on.

This is rambling and definitely doesn't fall into the intellectual category, but I wanted to point out that there is some truth to some of these "smacks,"

but, but, BUT, that will not prevent me from reading you, or holding you in esteem or loving your style, or asking your opinion. I take you as you are- a human, and fully so. How could I ask for more???

Just one teensy perspective from someone who prolly DOES NOT MATTER.

joy

WHOA! I've only just had opportunity to enter into this fray, and cannot possibly do justice to all the comments here worthy of attention.

You and I have talked about all this "academically" HBM, and so you know we are thinking along the same lines. You've definitely made me see the issue of commercialization from another perspective--that is, asking the question, why *shouldn't* women profit, and be able to make a (small) living from these ventures. And the vulgar marxist argument really does fall short--but is that always what these claims are based on?

I am not sure quite how I feel about some of it, and I know you are acknowledging complexities too--the need for more reflection before knee-jerk reaction, so here goes. Coming at this as someone who (in my work) is always exploring the relation between identity, power, and culture, I have a real problem with many of the gendered aspects of representation in the mainstream media, especially in advertizing (not *all* advertizing--in fact, i am a big lover of many a commercial. and crap entertainment in general). Glossies such as GoodHouseKeeping and Parenting, to me, are one big advertizement. One big sell. All mixed up with a mainstream ideology and "mold" of being a good mother/parent/woman/wife. Sure, there are some advertizing messages in there that slip through the cracks, that challenge certain views--but these are few and far between. In fact, this is one reason I love mommyblogging so much--it provides an alternative to so much of what we get fed.

Do I think that use of Ads automatically compromises the integrity of a blog? Definitely NOT. In fact, this can be viewed as empowering women to write, and supporting that. Ad Network. Nice. I might do it one day. (though the tactic of approaching certain bloggers to try it out first, etc--I would say this *is* political. Savvy. And political. Political in that it *does* even implicitly create hierarchies and competitive aspects to the social network. And I am not sure if saying so is an indication of "feelings" (being someone who does not really care about it, and say "lucky you" to those who get to participate). More on "politics" below.

I do worry about exploitation. I don't like the idea of being targetted as a "mommyblogger" and then having ads that ideologically I have a problem with pop up on my blog--simply by virtue of identifying myself as a parent, a woman. Lots of assumptions (problematic ones) can then be made about me and my audience. That said, I know we have some control over this--I am uninitiated and ignorant. I am mildly uncomfortable with the idea that some corporations that are paying women to write, are also, by virtue of advertizing interests, editing or "suggesting" post topics. I am not sure I like how companies are targetting some women bloggers and offering free products if they plug it on their blog. On the other hand (see above on "empowering women writers...")

I do not see this trend of control emerging hugely, but there's time yet! I worry about corporate interests creating a more "sanctioned" and "sanitized" version of what is a very messy, complex, and gorgeously raucous group of voices who are undermining many of the messages that we receive by other means.

On politics. Hmmm. I think being one of those revolting "cultural studies/poststructural theory kind of people, I slip into the tendency of calling everything political. Just like everything's "discursive" or a "text" (feel free to shoot me, sloppy "have everything your way" academic that I am).

For me, language, image, representation, communication--it's all political. It all emerges from an ideological context; from a context of power/knowledge and your relation to those structures (yes, I am getting Foucauldian on your ass). I would say our *feelings* are never just simply an outward emoting of inward thoughts or jealousies, but part of something much more dynamic and dialogic.

And so yes, I would say there is a "politics" of interaction that informs and *defines* the community we are all part of. And part of that politics relates to the sense of competition that is being articulated by many bloggers.

I am not a hugely read blogger. But I do know that I could use some political tactics to being in more readers. Not just posting more often, but putting into practice some of the "how to get your blog noticed" techniques we see out there. This would be about broadening my community and my readership--how do I achieve that? Tactically. Lots of women are observing/intuiting how that politics works, and exploiting it effectively. And more power to them! I am not charging Machievallian (sp?) tactics here--far from it. I call it rhetorical know-how. And yes, good writing is a must! Or, I should say, knowing your audience is a must. And I do call this political (just not in the overt "politicking" sense of the term).

Hey, I think we might just have written up a "debate" for you-know-what;-)

Thanks for this opportunity to flex the grey matter. I loves a debate just like you do.

kittenpie

(not to make this my own private conversation, but I went and took two of those tests and was interested to find the results. I started with one about the US and Canada - pretty sure where I stand on that, but it told me the opposite. I found myself, however, frequently hitting the key and then going "Ah! wrong one!" (why I don't play video games!) I tried another and was more careful, but still found my results odd - preferring gay to straight. So I don't know but yes, an intersting exercise nonetheless, thanks for the link.)

Andrea

No, kittenpie, I am not going to kill you. People have said the same on my blog comments, and I think that's great. I shouldn't have overgeneralized in the second point--I was typing to the background music of "mommy look! mommy look!" and went too hastily.

I will also point out that the point I've been trying to make (repeatedly) on my own blog is that the whole process is unintentional and unconscious. That is why it is a problem. If it was conscious, it would be a great deal easier to deal with.

I don't know if you've ever visited tolerance.org--they have a section of their website devoted to something called Implicit Assumption tests which attempt to measure unconscious prejudice. Teh first time I took them I was absolutely gobsmacked to see that my score did not reflect the open-mindedness I thought I had. Since then I've taken a much more serious approach to unconscious patterns of discrimination and privilege--and, lo and behold, my scores are a lot better now.

(You can dispute their methodology; but it's the only tool of its kind that I'm aware of.)

I'll make one more point: Mom101 keeps saying that people find othe rpeople like themselves "interesting." As I've also said on my own posts, this is untrue: people generally, on a society-wide level, find white well-off able-bodied people interesting. Studies that have measured internalized racism among young children, for instance, have found that not only do white girls prefer white dolls, but black girls prefer white dolls (in general--not in all cases).

And I can't help but wonder if this same pattern is being replicated on the momosphere--why do we find interesting what we find interesting? I don't think it's a simple thing, I don't think we should just sweep it under the rug.

I do think that people should engage with the actual argument I'm making (which many people have, and it's wonderful to see the debate) instead of debating my personal motivations or personality.

Kim

The value of popular culture is all summed up it's name alone: fit for, adapted to, or reflecting the taste of the people at large (with a profit at the end of the day for the shareholders).

It is all about marketing (evident to me when we love shoes more than our own bare feet) and occasionally the cream will rise to the top through genuine word of mouth without alterior motive. However it can become overwhelming to sort through it all to find what naturally peeks our interest and curiosity.

Great forum of expression with so little time and so much to do.
Nice to get our thoughts out there.

kittenpie

Oh jeez I know I'm wandering into the path of blogsmackage here, but:
Andrea, I beg to differ with your second point there. I do tend to visit blogs of people relatively (in the grand scheme of things) similar to me, people whose writing and ideas I like, people with whom I feel comfortable with. But I take exception with the idea that this means I and others "like me" are exclusionary, biased, and discriminatory in nature in the rest of our lives. I may have limited time for reading, but in real life, I see people of all varieties as being part of the tapestry in which I live.

I can't speak for others "like me," but I grew up with people of a range of ethnicities and incomes, serve an underprivileged and overpopulated neighbourhood considered one of the most ethnically diverse square miles in the world, and have in the past gone out of my way to learns new languages (spanish and sign) to better serve the neighbourhoods where I worked. I have rented an apartment to people of various colours and orientations, including one lady who is now receiving social assistance to pay her rent. I have friends with and without kids, gay and straight, hard-of-hearing and not, and of different ethnicities. I also know a few bloggers who work in non-profit sectors and help people in less fortunate circumstances.

I totally do not dispute that there are issues of privilege and underrepresentation. yes, there are. I totally do not dispute that blogs considered "niche" are not as well read and maybe should not be considered as such in the first place. I give you all this to tell you I think this one specific assumption is false here and that it might be worth examining. It is a prejudice in and of itself, and I always think it's worth looking at its source.

*ducking*

Marnie

I have been a member of urbanmoms.ca for a while now and have to say that what I love about this site is that it is so non-judgemental. That is why I come here. I don't feel like the cost of entry is a particular political point of view or parenting philosophy. From what little I have seen so far of the "blogging community", it doesn't look like that is the case.

I think a few of you need to give your heads a shake and get some perspective. This is still part of the world we live in, warts and all. But having a place to learn and share as a mother where the whole philosophy is built on inclusion is a wonderful thing. Women judge each other far too often, especially as moms. I think any effort to be inclusive and to share should be commended. Thanks Jen and the other contributors at urbanmoms.ca!!

Jen

I don't think anyone would argue that there are social biases in the both the "real" and "virtual" worlds. What I take issue with is that somehow this is intentional and mean. People tend to feel most comfortable in a place where they can find common ground. I don't avoid certain topics or people but I tend to gravitate to those who I have something in common with. This is human nature. Both of my children are able bodied. I am lucky. However, this means I don't share that experience with a mom whose child is disabled. Do I intentionally avoid her? No. Are there other things we share in common? Yes. Do I have a lot to learn from her? ABSOLUTELY. This is where I think your comment strays.

urbanmoms.ca is a reflection of those who participate in the community. We have thousands of members across the country who are involved in a variety of ways. They range in geography, age, education, and family dynamics. Do they all write for the site? No. Do they all feel represented? Likely not. This is exactly why we encourage ALL moms to contribute. Write an article for the site, comment, post in the forum. Help us learn from you. We have posts on adoption, single parenting, divorce, losing a child. We also have articles on birth - home, hospital, twin, c-section - these are real stories written by real women but it is up to those feeling under represented to tell their story. This is a forum to share but only if you are willing.

I think like anything, this is what we make it. If we focus so much on what is not here and point fingers at others then of course it will seem lacking. If we focus on what is here and how we can contribute even more then what we see is the opportunity. Instead of bickering about semantics let's DO something. It is not about being right or wrong or who is the worst off and who is privileged. This could go on forever and everyone would have a legitimate argument. Everyone is not going to compeltely agree but let's respect that we won't and accept the choices made by others.

I know HBM makes her choices based on her belief that what she is doing is making a difference in what matters to her. I am doing the same. It may not be the way others would have done it but I am doing my best to be true to myself and what I believe in by offering a place where women can have a voice. It's up to each individual to take advantage of make their voice heard.

Her Bad Mother's Mother 'Hood

This is going to be my last word on the subject. Firstly, it saddens me if anyone thinks that I am mocking them. I apologize to anyone who took my words in that spirit, for they were not intended in that way.

Secondly, I never disputed the 'politics' of social privilege in the world at large. Some groups are marginalized in our world, that's a fact, and atroubling one. But that's a different kind of politics from "blog politics". The blogosphere does indeed reflect the real world. But I see more efforts in the momosphere to counter the politics of the outside world than not.

Sunshine is right that we could all be making a BETTER effort to read outside our community. But it's too much too state that bloggers simply make no effort, or that they actively avoid such effort. The examples of popular blogs by women who are not white/hetero/conventionally privileged that I've been citing throughout the comments is, I think, evidence of that. And my own efforts at community-building - so enthusiastically received in the momosphere - are evidence of that as well: I link to hundreds of blogs, most of which are relatively unknown, many of which are written by women or men unlike myself.

I think that we're on the same page about wanting the world to be a better place. I just don't see the point in cutting each other down for what we are or not doing. If a blogger just wants to read knitting blogs by white women, that's her prerogative in a free society. Whatever might be called political about it, however, it isn't about the "politics" of blogging - it's an effect of the socio-politics of our world, and so an issue of broader social patterns. It doesn't help anyone's cause to accuse other bloggers of *willfully* furthering such social patterns and assert that they are unwitting tools of the patriarchy, in the same way that marching up to a newstand and shredding copies of People magazine and haranguing customers isn't going to help any cause.

Do your part to promote awareness of other blogs. I do. So do many other bloggers. Celebrate that, and build on that. Let's cheer each other on.

ali

wow...i don't even know what to say here.

i'm thinking it's all entirely because we are women. and at the root of it all, women are both competitive and insecure and high-school-y in nature.

everyone likes to be liked, and many people take it just a wee bit personally when someone else is liked *more*.

Andrea

"My point was just that I do have a desire to read blogs by a more diverse group of writers (as I am sure is the case of many other bloggers) but it is my/our own fault for not seeking them out - not the fault of 'blog politics'. Nor is it a battle that the well-read blogs should be fighting. If we want to read more diverse blogs we should all look for them and not point fingers at blog hierarchies and "popularity" and "politics". "

If we want to challenged this aspect of privledge we should all take responsiblity. The blogosphere unfortunately mirrors our society on the issue of privledge."

SS, that was exactly my point--as anyone who's read my posts on this subject would know. That the blogosphere reflects societal privilege, and this is a problem because privilege is itself a problem; and we all need to take personal responsibility for addressing it or at least acknowledging it.

If you don't want to call it politics, don't call it politics; but frankly, I can't see why not. Politics is the discussion of social relationships based on power and authority; privilege and dsicussions thereof would seem to fit well within such a definition.

HBM, if you'd read any of my posts with an eye to something other than mockery, you would have seen that there were already many such examples proferred. But here it is again, for the benefit of your readers:

Privilege online is important because privilege in the real world is important. The same people who overlook disabled kids online are going to be the same ones who overlook them in the real world. It isn't that a lack of blog popularity is, itself, a bad thing (and thanks to Bub and Pie's suggestion, I'll call it lower-traffic from now on); many people who have lower traffic blogs don't care one way or the other, and good for them. But as much as it reflects the same power imbalances as we see in the real world, it's a problem.

1. When someone tells me that her blog functions mostly as a vehicle for other people's pity, that is a problem, and it bugs me; I have heard that from moms of disabled kids, and you'd better believe it hurts even if it's "only a blog."

2. The same people who read blogs only like themselves online will be the same people who don't notice when public institutions aren't accessible, the same people who won't invite the different kids to their child's birthday party, the same people who will discriminate in hiring decisions, housing decisions, and so on. It's not like online attitudes are somehow miraculously contained online.

3. There's been a lot of talk, here and elsewhere, about how "real" and "raw" blogs are, about how they're the real voice of moms, and so on--but come on. How can they be, if they are so dominated by people from one demographic group? How can this medium claim any political representation, any reality, when it's so selective and power is awarded so arbitrarily within it?

At the very least, acknowledging the imbalances would allow us to be honest about what interests we truly represent. But we can't keep claiming that we speak "for moms." We don't.

crunchy carpets

Oops..I think I messed up with who I was agreeing with...found this hard to follow...

serves me right.

crunchy carpets

wow..too much to take in...especially when my dog is eating my kids.

Kittenpie..I am with you on how it all works....especially in the focused world of moms.....I mean even parenting forums have their groups..the special needs moms, the single parent moms, the young moms, the military moms, the working moms and so on....people read who and what is important to them mostly.

Now saying that, I also try to read forums and blogs of people whose lives are very different from mine...none moms, men, .....but whatever.

Woman ARE competitive and clique and bitchy as well as supportive and caring and kind.

I have seen it in the work place, in parenting groups, play groups, online and in real life....that is what we do!

We try to rise above it...but maybe it is genetic.

I think we are far more competitive than men are.

I came of the internet through my dh...he was part of the big explosion..made money from it and friends and was part of HIS sphere of interests and there too there was competition, bitchiness and so on.....but I don't recall it getting this debated this much on so many places....discussion was usually 'work' related.

So culture or politics.....same thing really is it not?

Her Bad Mother's Mother 'Hood

I'm totally fine with agreeing to disagree - I'm not trying to change your mind so much as trying to really understand your argument. I didn't say that there weren't any quote-unquote hierarchies, however understood. There are absolutely 'rock star' bloggers and unknown bloggers and everything in between. There are dramatically varying degrees of popularity in the momosphere and in the blogosphere and in social life more generally.

What I don't understand is the argument that the fact of popularity in the blogosphere is a political one, and how it is that it is problematic. Should we be working toward a strictly egalitarian blogosphere? Should we be cutting down the tall poppies (Aristotle said that this was the fastest way to kill real democracy, but we could overlook that for a greater good, right?)

I am absolutely sincere in my desire to have someone give me some concrete examples of the directly deleterious effects of blog popularity, and/or of blog collusion to keep 'lesser' blogs down. Popularity is furthered and maintained through linkage - to some extent, yes, according to Technorati - but to say that there is some political element to linking? That there's something more insidious about it than just giving credit or giving props to blogs or posts that one likes? I just. don't. see. it.

But if it's really happening, I'd like to know. Show me. Please. Not necessarily you, Kate. Anyone?

Kate

oops - fourth sentence should start with "And I think that IT can only be a positive thing.." blah blah blah. Forgot the IT. Also forgot my brain somewhere along the path this evening.

Kate

Nope sorry, Catherine, but I still disagree. I still maintain that there exists a hierarchy of bloggers that is fueled by popularity through linkage. And this hierarchy can be problematic, for many different groups. And I think that can only be a positive thing when we look at all of our contributions to this hierarchy, when we evaluate our positions in the whole scope of things. I’m not saying that popularity among bloggers shouldn’t exist - I’m just saying I think it warrants a deeper look. Much deeper than most of us want to admit, perhaps. (and I am including myself here).

And on that note, shall we just agree to disagree? There is room for dissent and disagreement amongst us “mommy bloggers” and perhaps we should just shake hands and be done with this issue (for today, at least). Don’t know about you, but I have a very energetic little girl wanting my attention away from the “computer box” and onto her!

Her Bad Mother's Mother 'Hood

Thanks for your comment, Emmie. I mostly agree: for the record, I don't hold the view that the most popular blogs are the best written. But they are, generally *well* written, in some way or another: Amalah (www.amalah.com), for example, is not Jane Austen but she has a unique and appealing voice. Dooce (www.dooce.com), IMHO, is an excellent writer of a certain style. Finslippy (www.finslippy.com) is incomparable. Sweet Juniper (www.sweetjuniper.blogspot.com)? High literature. I aspire to the quality of some of these blogs.

But you're totally right, too, that sometimes it's something else that captures the blogosphere's attention: great pictures, maybe. Celebrity gossip. Whatever the case, the popular blogs are GOOD blogs in some sense or another (in the same way that we have to say that People does its job very well). Or maybe it's just self-promotion. Either way, I think that the important point is that those draw traffic for a reason: they are appealing to large numbers of readers. It's not because those bloggers have nice hair (although, having met them, I can say that Amalah and Dooce both have great hair. Dutch's is passable) nor because those bloggers whore themselves out to get attention. It's because they're offering something that readers want to read.

bubandpie

I guess I'll feel that the high-school comparisons are warranted as soon as AFFILIATION starts to matter in the blogosphere. Yes, we can be competitive at times, and yes, for most of us high school was probably the last time we worried this much about whether people liked us (and the last time we potentially benefited this much from being liked by the right people). But to me the word "clique" implies something more than that.

Blogging will be like high school when hanging out with the "wrong" people starts resulting in lost readers - when linking to Blogger A, who is at loggerheads with Blogger B means that Blogger B won't read me any longer and neither will any of her friends.

It will be like high school if Semi-Big-Time Blogger C actually CAN'T leave comments on the site of Small-Time-Blogger D, even if she wants to, because if anyone else sees her doing so they'll think she's uncool and stop visiting her blog.

It will be like high school if Small-Time Blogger E leaves a comment on Big-Time Blogger F's site and is mercilessly mocked for doing so because there's an unwritten rule that uncool people don't get to approach the "cool kids."

It will be like high-school if people's choices of who to read are determined not by who they happen to stumble across OR whose writing they enjoy but rather by the need to be "seen" reading the "right" stuff.

There is a hierarchy in the blogosphere and there are certain (mostly inevitable) power dynamics that result from that, but if my high school had been like the blogosphere, I would have been a much happier teenager.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double)

There's so much to comment on here, and with 2 sick kids napping for I-don't-know-how-long I really can't, so despite the invitation ot hijack away, I'll keep it brief. I cannot agree that the most popular blogs are the best written, by any stretch of the imagination. I will not single out any popular bloggers (whom I have nothing against), but there are many reasons that they are popular that have nothing to do with good writing. Longevity. Consistency in posting. Pictures of cute kids. A focus on consumer culture and personal experience. Wittiness. Snarkyness. And yes, privelege. Most of my very favorite blogs are only moderately popular at best. I happen to like long, thoughtful, well-written posts, but my readers prefer funny bullet points with pictures. What does that mean? People Magazine is hugely popular - is it well-written? Will it ever have anywhere near the readers of the Sun - a truly well-written magazine? No, because it is simply not as entertaining. You have to think to get anything out of it. That is also true of many less popular blogs, especially ones that write abut marginalized issues. FWIW, that's not to say that it's not possible to have a well-written and popular blog.

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