Big picture

Much has been made of the Top 200 Influential Authors list - which adds up citations from bloggers and columnists to see who’s on the most widely read. Is it NYTimes pundit Paul Krugman, or These things matter to people with site meters.

Many have savaged the Blogrunner ranking methodology, but surprisingly, no one hass blinked at the notion of lumping newspaper and magazine columnists together with amatuer bloggers. Many, like James Lileks and Andrew Sullivan, do both. But many others have day jobs completely unrelated to writing. It's fanciful to think some hack in her bathrobe is jockying for attention alongside the publishing elite, but the truth isn't far off.

A recent CNN story pegged the number of US bloggers at 2-7% of the websurfing population – hundreds of thousands, in other words. (Another blogger pointed out there are more bloggers than there are CNN viewers on a given day). Granted, a lot (CNN says 90%) of these blogs are defunct or updated infrequently, and many others are vehicles for high-school gossip or just blowing off steam, ie, not for mass consumption. But it's heartening to think that the best bloggers now compete with the best writers in the best papers... although they get paid less.

As for us little people, World As a Blog shows a map of the planet. Every few seconds, a red dot lights up and a text box appears, showing what a blogger has just posted. The (mostly English) content wasn't particularly enlightening, but it's the best representation I've yet seen of the blogging phenomenon.