We're all parasites: pro blogger

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

A professional blogger is taking his cohort to task for doing something that would be a firing offence for a professional journalist: ripping each other off.

John Brownlee, Wired's Table of Malcontents blogger, doesn't pull any punches in his second post on what he calls "the parasitology of blogging" in as many weeks.

Commenting on a 3-D visualization of blog linking produced by BlogPulse creator Matthew Hurst, Brownlee notes that the image created by the Nielsen BuzzMetrics director of science and innovation clearly illustrates the phenomenon he described in a Feb. 14 post:

In the sea of the internet, blogging is a million lampreys sucking on the bloated cephalopod of a giant squid feeding upon the tiny Nautilus of a single unique thought.

Um… right. Stated more clearly:

Amateur bloggers are the ones who produce the vast majority of original content on the Internet. Professional bloggers, on the other hand, serve as a human filter for the internet according to a subject and their own passions, because (and here's the rub) pro blogging only pays in volume.

And in his Feb. 26 post, a description and a confession:

The blogosphere, as a whole, is the belly of an informational biomass in which millions of tapeworms feed upon a single morsel of unique content, using it not only to nourish themselves individually but to replicate and expand.

It's hard to actually prove this. It's simply an intuition: most unique content is generated by smaller blogs, because larger blogs depend on volume of posts to grow. When a small blog generates unique content, slightly larger blogs then digest it. Larger blogs then feed off their slightly smaller brethren. And so on.

When the information reaches the top blogs, it's once again link fodder for the small blogs, Brownlee says. Sounds about right.

But Brownlee's thesis isn't really his own (something he readily admits – obliquely, through a link). It's Chris Higgins's over at Mental Floss – via Ben Fry, who made an infographic for the Feb. 20, 2006 issue of New York magazine.

Confused yet? Back to Brownlee:

Our role is ultimately to show the reader what's cool.…. It doesn't change the fact that we're generally parasites, but at least we're trying to be the toxoplasmosis over the tapeworm.
What he said.

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C McCoy


So the ultimate status symbol for an "amateur" blogger is to see self plagiarized; as in, that is proof of original thought. Since I have yet to be plagiarized, I guess that means I - gasp - am guilty of not having original thought.

Posted March 2, 2007 02:28 PM

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