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Loads of Memes

PubSub
now counts more than 8 million blogs [excluding CAD blogs] which
account for more than 1300 posts per minute. 6 Million of these posts
have appeared in the last 6 months alone.  Technorati
now tracks over 789 million posts.  There’s a lot of information out
there. Blogs are changing the rules of journalism, marketing and social
networks.  The notion of information overload may have given rise to
increases in stress levels but blogs themselves, or so I believe, do
not contribute to this – you opt in to the blogosphere and you can
easily opt out.  New technologies and practices aid us in managing the
increase in information: 

  • Tools such as feedreaders enable people to manage far greater amounts of information.
  • Newer reading practices, I suspect, are also developed.  I imagine
    people ‘read’ a feedreader like they’d read newspapers if they were on
    amphetamines – scan the first few words and then delve into the article
    if the first few words seem interesting.  When you read you’re just
    picking out key words and relating these to other things. In that sense
    blogs and print are the same – they are both a ‘multiplicity’. 
  • People also organise information by type. You know where to go for what.
  • The networks of influence are relatively small and these are, I
    believe, reinforced off-line [or through personal contact].  So where
    you go for what tends to be where your social network go to get their
    food and drink too. This isn’t scalable.  You just can’t be that good a
    friend to that many people. 
  • And of course only a small percentage of blogs get read, right.  That’s the power law.      

What’s the currency in this new information economy?  Memes: self-propagating units of cultural evolution.  Powerful things then.  Get your meme right and you’ll ride the power curve.  The Baghdad blogger had a kind of collective meme [what is the collective name for a meme?] through his access as an Iraqi citizen during a war when few other Iraqi voices were being heard.  Humour and form are aspects of style that can give value.  But the overriding characteristic of the meme is speed.
Boing Boing and Slashdot are the biggies but even in specialist, niche,
subject areas, speed to market is often key. The quickest to market
gets the most kudos and with it often more punters and more money [via
advertising revenue], and in this sense blogs mirror news providers
more widely.  But while speed seems to be the most widely accepted
value it is also the most short-term.  It used to be that today’s news
was tomorrow’s fish and chip wrap.  Now this minutes news is digital
effluent in a matter of minutes, with people slipping on the occasional
spillage days, weeks, months down the line.  Sometimes it came and went
so quickly the first time the meme can occasionally have another life,
another spike.   

NB: I suspect there are interesting parallels with the world of
print and the ways in which the exponential growth in printing media
led to new social phenomena and means of control and authority.  But I
couldn’t find any reliable stats to use.  If you know of any please
tell me.

[PubSub info via Micropersuasion]