In The Fractal Blogosphere at Read/Write Web, Richard MacManus proposes that bloggers not worry too much about the popular/unpopular dichotomy suggested by most common interpretations of the various power laws that govern linking and traffic among blogs (and frankly in any linked network of any kind at all), but instead pick a scale that makes sense and judge themselves by their success at the appropriate level.
He proposes an initial idea of five levels, based on audience-size jumps of powers of ten (10 readers, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000), calling them “personal,” “social,” “community,” “broadcast,” and “celebrity.” He’s also clear that these are simply stake-in-the-sand proposals and that he’s open to refinements and other constructions – in fact he’s borrowed the terminology from folks like Mayfield and Shirky and doesn’t insist on their use.
Here’s the key point:
The most important aspect of this is that each level has a different structure. For example the writing style differs at each scale – as Seb noted: “…discourse often has to become less idiosyncratic when it is intended to reach a large audience, because less common ground / shared language can be assumed.”
What I hope a Fractal Blogosphere will enable is that new bloggers can immediately decide where on the scale they fit in. Currently I get the feeling that a lot of bloggers see the blogosphere as a ‘dog eat dog’ world – survival of the fittest, where Fittest = Popular. Maybe that is turning some potential bloggers off? But if we have a series of structural levels defined, then we broaden the scope of blogging so that people no longer compete – compare themselves – with people who are working at a different level.
For example: if I were to use the power law to rate myself as a blogger, then I’d have to mark myself as a complete failure compared to say Robert Scoble. He’s obviously and deservedly way more popular than me. But if I use the Fractal Blogosphere to define myself as a blogger, then I simply don’t compare myself to Robert – because he’s on level 10,000 and I’m on level 100. My value system would be something like this instead: am I producing sufficient quality ideas and memes to please my small but focused group of readers?
(Emphases in the original.)