Bonfire of the Inanities

Blog-cataloguing website Technorati overhauled its database last month, purging tens of millions of spam blogs which had been making a mockery of their ranking numbers. Unfortunately there seems to have been a fair bit of collateral damage in this operation, as the internet has resounded with the protests of outraged bloggers who have seen their cherished writing projects disappear from the index. I am sad to say that Second Life Shrink was among the casualties; it is no longer possible to check how much authority we have, or see where we rank in the world wide web. Which is just as well probably, since the last time I looked the answers were “not much” and “way down”. (I never really understood how the Technorati ranking worked anyhow, since over the years our place has varied from below 5 million to inside the top half million, while all the time we have been turning out more or less the same rubbish, to more or less general indifference).

I does make me reflect on why I bother to blog at all, especially about something as unimportant as a minority-interest computer fantasy world. I think it’s the very inconsequentiality of the topic that that makes it attractive. It feels good to have strong opinions, because it sustains the illusion that one’s thoughts might actually matter in the grand scheme of things, rather than just being transient chemical reactions in the nervous tissue of a barely sentient creature in one obscure corner of an essentially chaotic cosmos. Strong opinions about important things are risky though; someone else might strongly disagree with you, raising the threat of unrestrained violence, or at least social awkwardness. Much better to confine one’s pontificating to subjects that no one really cares about; whatever I write about, say, IP rights in virtual worlds, I can be fairly sure that, in the unlikely event that anyone is paying attention, they won’t be upset to a degree that they will want to come round to my house and have a fight about it.

Even when I offer my random thoughts about things that might actually be relevant to everyday life, like politics or economics, I know that I’m not going to encounter any serious disagreement, because my voice will be lost in the general hubbub of subjectivity that is the blogosphere. There is no vehicle better than a blog for sounding off without having to think about how others might interpret or respond to your comments. The promise of Web 2.0 – that it would facilitate intellectual interactivity on a global scale – is in danger of being lost, as we bloggers use the medium to reinforce our own preconceptions instead of opening up to the ideas of others. (I’ll stop there before I prove my argument by descending into completely solipsistic nonsense).

Anyway, I’m going to try to re-register with Technorati, since I need to feed my obsession with blog statistics. Our content may be getting a boost soon – our art correspondent Olivia is back at work, and has promised me an article before the end of the month – and I wouldn’t want to miss the increased authority her erudite commentary will undoubtedly bring us.

[I was going to link to a video of the Austin Lounge Lizards performing their track “Bonfire of the Inanities”, but YouTube has failed me, so here’s another of their numbers, “Jesus Loves Me But He Can’t Stand You”.]

2 Responses to Bonfire of the Inanities

  1. This seems like a nice article to me. I liked the passage:
    “It feels good to have strong opinions, because it sustains the illusion that one’s thoughts might actually matter in the grand scheme of things, rather than just being transient chemical reactions in the nervous tissue of a barely sentient creature in one obscure corner of an essentially chaotic cosmos” that I have made it be my signature quote in the forums.secondlife.com quote for the time being.

    I don’t seem to have been removed from Technorati. I have an authority of 1. I assume that’s as low as you can get.

    • johnny says:

      Thanks for the kind words – it’s always nice to know that someone is paying attention, however fleeting.

      It is possible to have a rating lower than one – we were at zero for ages, and will probably be back there if we ever manage to re-register.

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