Greetings from the Long Tail
looks to me like a pretty positive development -- as far as I can tell, a worthwhile effort to link the netroots with the progressive establishment in a more comprehensive way. The dirty little secret of any influential political "movement" in America is the disconnect between the rank and file and the Beltway leadership. Any attempt to bridge that has to be a positive thing.
If you haven't already, check out the latest by Chris Bowers on the state of the progressive blogosphere
. As he points out, the divide occurs within the netroots itself, between the increasingly-established "short head" of the blogosphere, and the vast "long tail" trailing out into obscurity. I more or less agree with him as to the characteristics of and reasons for that divide, though I think his point can be simplified. When blogging was a new medium, early adapters could make their mark even if nobody knew who they were. Now that the reach and the dynamics of the medium are better understood, those with the most resources -- financial, social, political -- are able to leverage their advantages into the blogosphere.
Bowers is also right to imply that during the recent blogroll wars, this phenomenon was often mischaracterized: it's not a matter of the early adapters pulling the ladder up after them. As he points out, and as all the evidence I've seen indicates, blogrolls play a very small role in driving traffic. It seems to me that some very talented people let their bruised egos get in the way of a more hardheaded analyis of what was going on. Those with resources were getting in on the game; the early adapters were just about the only "provincial" bloggers able to make the transition at the highest level, since they at least had the resource of having been early adapters.
I say this as someone standing on the unfashionable end of the long tail -- and thanks again to those of you who make the effort to come all the way out here. We in the netroots masses must
be able -- as Bowers acknowledges -- to influence the short head and the Beltway establishment. After a brief interlude during which we thought we were
the new establishment, collectively and en masse
, we're being brought back to earth, and now we'll have to focus on the challenge of figuring out how to re-open the channels a bit.
Still, we're in a better place than the status quo ante
. Even with the emergence of a blogospheric short head connected to an enduring movement establishment, the new forms of technology and discourse, and the expectations we have created through them, have given us peasants significantly expanded access to national politics from the days when were expected to vote, send checks, and at best carry worthless membership cards around in our wallets. The tail may not yet wag the dog, but we can move him a little better than before.
Labels: Chris Bowers, netroots, Open Left, progressives