Revisited – The Long Tail of Linking

In September 2006, I wrote a post called The Long Tail of Linking. Here are several excerpts:

The problem, however, is that in many ways when it comes to linking, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. If an unknown blogger is first to break a story but has no traffic or visitors, do they break it? The answer is plainly ‘no’ – they reap no benefit whatsoever.

All bloggers who are not part of the upper class blogosphere fall into the same trap – they almost always link to those who are on the ‘A-list’. At the same time, those who are on the A-list also link to each other…because many of them are friends or at least have a blogosphere relationship.

What if there was a more horizontal approach to linking, meaning that bloggers sought to reference those in their “peer groups” (or below) instead of vertically to those with 3 gazillion links? Could a long tail approach to linking significantly improve readership, comments, traffic, etc.? Could the sum total of crosslinks from middle class bloggers be more significant than one link from a big blogging player?

After attending TWTRCON this past week and feeling the same feelings of every conference — people talk to you when they believe you can do something or offer something to them — I was reminded that the long tail of linking not only never materialized but that the classic power broker syndrome has entrenched itself firmly in the world of Twitter.

As usual, attendees @ each other at the end of the conference…writing their “nice to meet you’s” but they often do so only for those they find most important and with the largest followers.

To be fair, I need to catch myself from doing the same. The larger issue, however, is that it’s just a said state of affairs and of the human condition to operate with such a mindset. We are continually self-motivated and often unmoved by those we think are unimportant. I am reminded of a passage from the Bible, which reads:

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Whether we are on or offline, the concept of the “long tail of linking” and of considering others better than ourselves should be part of our daily practice. Not because of what it will do for us but because it is the right thing to do.