Too many metas to count

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link in the latest edition o’ weblogging chronicles. He quotes both Meryl and myself, and in so doing, actually addresses one of my key points of criticism (that Slate should have included a lesser known blogger in the conversation), as he himself points out:
“But here’s another piece of blogging’s genius. We just did that! You can rectify editorial choices in real time all the time. If this conversation takes off, we can even continue it without Slate at all! “
Yup. And because the subject here is how blogging works, I’ll tell y’all exactly how the timeline looked for this tiny little episode in the Blogosphere:
4am – I awake to find an email from Meryl pointing me to her piece (yeah, I couldn’t sleep this morning)
4:30 – 5:30am – I blog my snarky response, quoting both Andrew & Kurt’s piece, and Meryl’s.
Somewhere between 6am – 12pm – Andrew reads my piece & Meryl’s, finds them amusing enough to quote, and drafts his own response.
12:30 pm – Andrew’s piece is posted to Slate
Try to get that kind of cycle time on dead trees some time.
And just to make everybody think that now that Andrew has linked to me I’ll suck up to him, here’s another point he gets right:
“But at a more profound level, I think the real power will be unleashed by unknown writers finding a way to get their work in front of readers more easily than ever before. The whole process of interning, or begging for work at local papers, sucking up to agents and editors, and so on can now be supplemented by real self-publishing. You can make your own clips! This can only help — however marginally — discover new talent.”
The way I look at it is similar. Once, you were either working in the media, or you weren’t. The gulf between “media” — with an audience of thousands, even at a smalltown paper — and “non-media”, was huge, and binary.
Now, weblogs go a long way towards bridging that gap. They’re not replacing Big Media — nor do I expect them to. But they’re filling in that huge cliff that used to exist between “out” and “in”. Now, the spectrum begins with the handful of bloggers who just yesterday signed up for a new account at Blogger, and have a few friends reading their weblogs. It extends up through me, with my small readership; it goes up to people like Stephen Green; an amateur, unpaid writer who nonetheless has several thousand visitors a day just because he’s that good. And then you start to hit the Mickey Kaus level, and Andrew himself — pro journalists, but bloggers also.
And at that point, you look around and realize that somewhere you crossed a readership line — and that now you’re looking at weblogs that probably have more actual readers than many “real media” newspaper columns. But it’s never quite clear where that line was.
Where once there was a jagged cliff to be climbed before one could be accepted into the Masonic club of journalism, now there is a gentle slope. Start small; learn the craft as you build your readership. And someday you might find yourself far enough up the hill to make the transition to Real Media.
Or, you might find that the distinction no longer matters as much as you thought it did.
Unless of course, you want a paycheck. But that’s another subject….