June 3, 2005

Great Weblog Writers

Tinderblogger Dave Rogers recently took Winer, Searls, and Weinberger to task for fumbling a Chris Lydon question: "Who are the great weblog writers?"

In a way this is a tricky question. Neil Gaiman, for example, is proverbially better than anyone who writes faster, and writes faster than anyone who is better. He has a fine weblog. I'm not sure, though, that the writing in his weblog is so wonderful I'd single it out.

In terms of shaping the medium, Winer himself has been tremendously influential. You can trace lots of stylistic details in lots of weblogs back to Winer. But Dave's a pundit and a system-maker and a force of nature and he's always been there; it's hard to look just at the writing.

That's one reason the question's tricky: lots of well-written weblogs are quietly and almost incidentally well written.

Offhand, I think of three weblogs where the writing just makes the weblog. One has been Alwin Hawkins, whose thrilling tales of nursing will, one hopes, continue in his new deskbound role. One is Nick Tyler: you seldom know what Nick is talking about, exactly, other than that she's much too young and the whole thing was probably doomed from the start, but it's always quite a ride. And Diane Greco, when she wants to, can spin a yarn in a unique but completely idiomatic weblog style.

But then there are people like Jill and Kathryn and Josh who usually don't seem to write beyond clarity, brevity, and sincerity, but we all know that writing simply is not simple. And then there are radicals like Adrian, the vloger.

And then there are the 4,999,700 or so blogs I haven't even glanced at, and all the wonderful writers I haven't thought of tonight because I'm tired and full of lovely Yarra Valley Viognier.

It's really important to make sure we can glance at the other 5 million blogs when we want to. Adding one or two additional regular readers to every blog in the Long Tail makes a huge difference in the economy of the blogosphere: if everyone gets that reader or two, then most of the weblog reading that happens will happen in the Tail and the Tail will matter. If people don't generally get that extra reader or two, then all the reading is concentrated in the A List and, well, it'll be Mr. Murdoch and his five best friends, all the way down.

I argued at Blogtalk Downunder that it's OK if only your mother reads your weblog: it's good to write to your mother. Attention, mothers: reading your kid's weblog is good for your kids, and also good for the ecology of the blogosphere.