Keep on Blogging

Have been considering the struggle to be known, to network, which seems to be what it's all about these days. Piece in last week's Scottish Sunday Herald about publisher's editors trawling blogs for the Next Big Thing. At once heartening and depressing. Do you know how many millions of blogs there are out there? And then some.
Trouble is, it's possible to waste whole life in pursuit of elusive Next Big Thing, while somewhere else, the true Jaberwocky of the real Next Big Thing is unexpectedly whiffling through the tulgey wood of somebody else's imagination, no doubt burbling as it comes.
Have been whiffling my way happily through Chris Anderson's wonderful, anarchic, iconoclastic book, The Long Tail, over the past few evenings. 'Fundamentally, a society that asks questions and has the power to answer them is a healthier society than one that simply accepts what it's told from a narrow range of experts and institutions' he says, with which I can only agree.
The essence of the book is that the future of business does not lie only in a small number of blockbuster 'hits' but in those, plus an endless line of all those millions of things, real, or virtual, from music to books, from specialised widgets to specialised information, to be found on sites from Amazon and eBay to Wikipedia and MySpace - and Blogger, of course - with all the opportunities in between. Given access to more choice, our tastes are more eclectic than even we ourselves realise - and we will find like minded souls in ever more niche areas of life. Which is strangely heartening. The Web is a seredipitious place, which is why most writers love it.
So we keep on blogging, because we're communicators, and it's better to get stuff out there than to keep it sitting in a folder in the bottom drawer of the desk. Even if we do it for free. Which should be a scary thought for publishers everywhere. There is, let's face it, a microscopically small number of writers who make any more than a pittance out of what they write. The rest of us soldier on for peanuts, or nothing, in the hopes of being discovered as the Next Big Thing. But more and more of us seem to be deciding that we would rather write what we like, and put it out there ourselves, for nothing, than desperately search for the elusive 'deal' which is about as likely as winning the lottery, only takes up a hell of a lot more time and effort than buying a ticket.
There may be a hell of a lot of crap out there, but there is also plenty of interesting stuff to be discovered, and coming across it is one of the joys of the Web. As Anderson points out, what we need is more and better aggregators - unconstrained by the bottom line, the accountants, the suits - to point us in ever more serendipitous directions.

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