List in Transition — Top "Ecosystem" blogs 2003 and 2006

Internet | Access/Network
I thought I’d put together a bit of a teaser here for the upcoming series about the meme of “Shirky’s Power Law” (it’s already at 5,000 words in draft). Three years ago, Clay Shirky and Jason Kottke independently looked at some of the top weblog rankings and concluded that they reflected a power law distributed. Shirky used the data from the “Truth Laid Bear” list, which has been declining in relevance ever since. Kottke, on the other hand, used data from Technorati, which only launched a few months earlier and has been on the ascendence.

But being as I’m writing about Shirky, I thought I’d look at the ol’ bear’s list before it goes into permanent hiberation.

I compared the 2003 ecosystem (from the Internet Archive) to today’s ecosystem. I’ve listed the top ten then, along with a few from the tail that I thought were notable, and then listed their current rankings, if any. (I adjusted the numbers to remove the spam blogs at spots #1, #5 and elsewhere)

As I’m not doing a thorough analysis of the top 433 that Shirky had graphed, I thought I’d have a little fun instead. As for the “Where are the now?” I actually don’t read any of these, not even Marshall any more. So I had to at least figure out what many of them were about– were these the secret diaries of the undersecretary for featherbedding in the Bush White House I’ve been looking for? Sadly, no. The “Truth Laid Bear” then, as now, is still a rogue’s gallery of the Ayn Rand fan club of libertarians, with a few liberal stalwarts thrown in. The Technorati listings, by contrast, are much more diverse– see Tristan Louis’s thorough review of the change in its rankings since from twenty months ago. I’ve added Technorati rankings in parenthesis where helpful.

“It’s not impossible to launch a good new blog and become widely read, but it’s harder than it was last year, and it will be harder still next year,” Shirky wrote at the time. But he undermined it in the next sentence by pointing out that “blogging will stop referring to any particularly coherent activity.” It doesn’t. This year, looking back, he concedes the trend that the group and commercial efforts have started to squeeze out the individuals. Reliable media pundits Arianna Huffington, Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt had no trouble picking up the form (really, how hard can it be?) and using their big megaphones to vault into the top ten.

Blog/BloggerWhere are they now?
1 Instapundit #2 linker Glenn Reynolds makes way for #1 Xeno the warrior-pundit Malkin 
 2 Andrew Sullivan #14; Has passed daily dish at times to write book; now Time’s man of the blog
3 Steven Den Beste Retired 2004 due to illness. Returned to RedState. Now in Oregon.
4 Little Green Footballs #5; LGF’s Charles Johnson (TR #41) got into Pajamas with Roger L. Simon
5 The Truth Laid Bear Last couple of years Bear Market for N.Z. while Bull Market for Technorati
6 James Lileks #42; MN Star-Tribune political humor columnist also #639 on Technorati
7 Megan McArdle Blogs as “Jane Galt”; day job now an editor with the Economist
8 Matt Welch Reason editor just joined LA Times; Still a “warblog” as there is still a war
9 VodkaPundit #31; Writer, investor, and Ayn Rand fan Stephen Green still serves ’em stiff
10 Volokh Conspiracy #11; Minion of law professors takes 3 years to slip one notch (TR#73)
… and wagging in the tail ….
14 Virginia Postrel Ex-Reason editor found true believers via blog; scaled back blog for paid work
30 Josh Marshall #10; Ace of liberal bloggers exposed Lott in 2003; franchised in 2005.
31 Matt Drudge Nonblogger unwittingly helped start movement which rendered him irrelevant.
53 Jeff Jarvis #54 BuzzMacher bugged the Times till they gave him work and scholarships
180 Jason Kottke #98 — Climbs the list as it’s now his full time job. (TR at #20)