The blogger’s dilemma
Readers want there to be a new post every time they click over to the site. Otherwise, their bandwidth, time and mouse clicks have been wasted. If they frequently find no new material, they will eventually stop coming back.
Bloggers, for whatever reason, want their readers to come back, but bloggers’ time, relevant material and good ideas are scarce. Short, linky posts – the blogger’s aggregation of other peoples’ thoughts – are relatively cheap, as are brief contributions to ongoing debates in the blogosphere.
A small number of widely-read bloggers provide a valuable service in aggregating the best of the internet. They skim the boring parts of the web so that we don’t have to. For small-time bloggers, it is also relatively cheap to glean the best links from others’ linky posts, and regurgitate those. But many of the readers of small-time blogs have already seen that material on the big-time blogs. Debates, on the other hand, can certainly be interesting, but with too little background they can also alienate the casual reader.
We’re at a bad equilibrium. Since I usually refuse to post those lists of links, and since my time is finite, especially right now, as I prepare for the upcoming G8 Summit, you, gentle reader, waste your time and energy checking Economic Woman for new material. I am sorry about that. Might I suggest an RSS reader? I recently started using Google Reader again, and it’s been great fun, even though I know that most of my 300 unread posts probably link to the same two New York Times articles.