You ever notice how few of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs are actually personal blogs? By which I mean, a blog written by a single person, not for an employer or contractor, and about more than a single topic (i.e., not just tech/politics/marketing). There are damn few. Let me take the Top 25 to prove my point:
# 1. Engadget — Pro blog, single topic
# 2. Boing Boing — Group blog
# 3. 老徐 徐静蕾 新浪BLOG — I have no idea what this blog is, I don’t read Chinese
# 4. Gizmodo, The Gadget Guide — Pro blog, single topic
# 5. The Huffington Post — Group blog, single topic
# 6. Daily Kos: State of the Nation — Group blog, single topic
# 7. Techcrunch — Pro blog, group blog, single topic
# 8. PostSecret — Single topic
# 9. Lifehacker, the Productivity and Software Guide — Pro blog, group blog, single topic
# 10. Crooks and Liars — Single topic
# 11. 燕西的互联网生活 燕西 博客屋 记录我们的生活 — Another one I can’t figure out since I can’t read Chinese
# 12. Think Progress — Single topic, group blog
# 13. Michelle Malkin — Single topic
# 14. Gawker, Manhattan Media News and Gossip — Pro blog, single topic
# 15. Autoblog — Pro blog, single topic
# 16. Instapundit.com — Single topic (mostly, occasionally forays into tech and books)
# 17. Official Google Blog — Single topic, pro blog
# 18. with no name — Another Chinese blog.
# 19. Blog di Beppe Grillo — Italian blog, looks single topic
# 20. Scobleizer Tech Geek Blogger — Single topic
# 21. A List Apart — Single topic
# 22. Topix.net Weblog — Single topic, pro blog
# 23. Seth’s Blog — Single topic
# 24. Explosm.net Flash Animations, Daily Comics, and more! — Single topic
# 25. dooce — personal blog
So, out of the top 25 blogs out there on the Tubes (and excluding the ones written in languages I can’t even pretend to read) only one of them is written by a single person, not for a paycheck, and on whatever topic it is she wants to talk about (Update: In comments, Mitch Wagner points out that Heather Armstrong does get paid for Dooce.com. However, she’s in business for herself, which is different than getting that paycheck from someone else. And she still writes about whatever she wants). In the rest of the top 100, there’s only another three or four personal blogs, depending on whether you figure a photo blog is sufficiently varied not to be a single topic blog.
This suggests a number of things. One is that the blog world is already pretty damn corporatized and politicized, as 8 of the top 10 blogs are either paid blogs or political blogs, and one of the other two is also pretty politically active. This should not be news. Another is that if you want to crack the top 100 without writing on a single topic, especially politics or tech, it helps if you are a pretty girl, or someone whose online nickname has become a verb. Short of that, you’re pretty much on your own. Yet another is that all your personal bloggers probably need to rethink the idea of making a whole lot of cash off your AdSense deal.
I don’t think this dearth of personal blogging in the Technorati Top 100 is either good or bad; I know I read Engadget every day like a junkie so I can get my new tech fix, so even if I thought it were a problem (and I don’t), I’m part of the problem. I do think it indicates that on the high end at least, the blog world is wildly different than its popular perception — and that it doesn’t look all that different from the “old media” it currently augments and may one day replace.
I also think that personal bloggers probably shouldn’t try to crack the Top 100. Personal blogs may have inherently fewer links and possibly fewer readers (which is not the same, incidentally, as I know for a fact that I more readers than some blogs on the Technorati Top 100), but this doesn’t make those blogs any less interesting. Speaking as a reader, I prefer reading blogs where a person goes all over the board on subjects, because as it turns out I read for the voice of blogger, not the topic.
I would be very sad to see the diversity of personal blogs thin out because people thought they weren’t popular enough. The world really does have enough purely political blogs and tech blogs; there are never enough blogs that see the world from a personal point of view.