Michael Spencer has posted a great essay on the spiritual and psychological dangers of taking blogging too seriously.
It’s easy for those of us who spend too much of our lives in the blogosphere to overestimate the scale and importance of blogging. A useful corrective can be found in the wonderful map of online communities drawn up by Randall Munroe at XKCD.
This depicts the various online communities – MySpace, YouTube, Xanga etc – as countries, with the size of each territory being roughly proportional to the size of the corresponding community. The different countries are then arranged on two axes: north-south represents the “practical-intellectual” axis, and west-east represents the primary focus of each community, from “focus on real-life” to “focus on web”.
And where is the much-vaunted blogosphere, champion of theological orthodoxy and terror of political vested interests? Erm, that would be it right there in the bottom-left corner, firmly in the “intellectual” zone: the collection of small islands dwarfed by the vast landmasses of MySpace and the Icy North (covering Yahoo, Windows Live and other such n00b-infested regions).
As I said in a comment on Michael’s post, the fact is we really don’t matter that much. The blogosphere is a great place for the Lisa Simpsons and Martin Princes of this world to hang out and enjoy the (virtual) company of like-minded people, without getting beaten to a pulp by the Nelson Muntzes who dominate real-life. That’s wonderful, but it ain’t anything more than that.