12 October 2007

An audience of one

Odd thing happened today. The usual light traffic through here was lighter than normal - partly attributable to pre-weekend dropoff for sure, but it stood out to me as being particularly slow. Even some of my regular visitors hadn't come by in the morning. That was before lunch. Afterwards, my traffic increased to a few hundred percent above normal.

I'd been linked from Neil Gaiman's blog. (By the way, for those who might wonder which generates more traffic - a link from Gaiman or a link from Ken Levine - Morpheus wins the kewpie doll.) What I found especially odd about the link from Gaiman (odd, but nonetheless gratifying to my ego) was that in the post in question I'd done little more than quote Gaiman!!!

Sure, I'd juxtaposed an anecdote of his about infixing "fucking" with another post that appeared only a few days later doing the same, but I'd really brought nothing new to the table. It was all very strange to me. But it led me to think a little about one of the aspects about the new media paradigm that I've never seen anyone mention before.

Frequently (*still*, shockingly) wags will discuss the power in the hands of ordinary citizens to make their voices heard through the "power of the Internet". A lone underwear-clad blogger, his fingers stained permanently orange from Cheetos - like Will Leitch1 - can challenge the authority, reputation, hegemony, and market reach of one of the most powerful media companies in history. Josh Marshall can build a new model for a media company in the flower district that regularly scoops and out-analyzes The Times, The Post, and the Weekly World News.2 Limitless distribution is available to anyone with a connection to the Internet with a price that approaches zero. It's clear the old push model has to compete mightily and only retains its built-in advantage of authority.

However, that's not why I'm writing this.

Did I mention that Neil Gaiman linked to my lil piece o' crap site? Who the hell am I?

While I'm thrilled by the fleeting uptick in readership (pretty much all those people came and went without staying around, thereby missing anything funny, profound, or interesting I might have to say3) it doesn't mean nearly as much to me as this: Neil Gaiman linked to my site. Which means he read at least one post on my site, probably more (after all, he'd want to make sure I'm not completely bat-shit before sending his readers here.) This ranks up there with Levine making two distinct compliments about our team's quality of humor after our scene was performed at the Sitcom Room and telling me he was enjoying reading my blog posts from that weekend.

Yes, I'm that needy.

But it's a little more than that in this case. The paradigmatic change I'm talking about isn't that one person can be heard by many, but that a nobody like me4 can be read by some of his idols. Honestly, at this point you get Harlan Ellison to curse me out for ripping him off and I can die happy.

I suppose the sensation I have today must be the happy inverse to the one all the sports bloggers feel every time their hard work gets stolen by the WWL. The opposite feeling political bloggers feel when the MSM fails to properly credit their sources. A man I've been reading for over twenty years read something I wrote5. The key isn't that I can publish my thoughts for everyone to see; rather, it's that those thoughts might be seen by anyone. Even a giant in his field.

1 I am, of course, kidding. I'm sure Will Leitch does his best work commando, with Dorito-stained fingers.
2 Again, kidding. TPM may have broken the USA firing scandal, but they've never beaten the WWN to the punch on a Bat Boy story.
3 If nothing else, it's funny for me to imply I'm ever interesting, interesting for me to imply I'm profound, and profoundly arrogant for me to imply I'm funny.
4 Bwahahahaha! Sorry. Me playing the humility card...now that's funny!
5 Yes, I've not forgotten it was just a post of two block quotes and some connective tissue.


sme said...

I was surprised when you mentioned Gaiman's blog the other day because I read it too, which is weird because I've only read one of his books, and the book that I read was the one he co-wrote with Pratchett. I just like his blogs. I guess what I'm trying to say was that it's weird I read his blogs, you read his blogs, and now he reads your blog and ... I dunno. I think it's weird.

R.A. Porter said...

Oh yeah, Good Omens...fun book. I'm a huge Gaiman fan, though. Possibly the coolest comic book I own is Gaiman's Black Orchid which I've still got in their original polybags.

I'd seriously recommend you try out a couple of his novels - Anansi Boys and American Gods are really good reads, the latter in the vein of Tom Robbins.

As for Gaiman reading me...I can only dream that Dream would bother. :)

The other day was very surreal. Back in July, Jane Espenson (they're shooting one of her BSG eps this week!!!) and John Hodgman (Mr. PC himself) mutually linked each other in a recursive loop that threatened to swallow the Internet. This felt a bit like that (except in this case only one of us is [currently] a cultural treasure.) Someday, I hope to reach that level. :)

sme said...

Thanks for the book recommendations and for the link in your last blog. I'll probably check out American Gods when I get a chance.


Beckylooo said...

I'm not sure there's yet a word for the shade of green I turned when I read this. So. Frakkin. Rad. I'm half way through American Gods. I put it down a couple months ago, I forget why. Tis a sign. Must pick it up again.

R.A. Porter said...

It was all very surreal. Someday, I hope to be deserving of a Gaiman-link.

Brian B. said...

I thought you didn't give a shit about other people's opinions?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

R.A. Porter said...

Well played, Brian!!!

How about: I don't care about the opinions of people I know, just people I admire? ;)