Sunday, February 3, 2008

Share and Share Alike


One of the benefits of reading a blog is that you never know where it will take you. You click on a site, then find yourself drawn to another site, which leads to another, which… you get the idea. The next thing you know, your browser history resembles this stream-of-conscious trail leading from your blog to the far reaches of the Arctic to a treatise on the brown mollusk to a chapter on Tibetan marriage rites to a list of countries that drive on the left to the review of a book by a Jewish grad student from Pittsburgh who spent three years living in Jordan. All of this marvelous trip is thanks to the blogroll on the blogs you’ve been reading. That list on the sidebar is often the most fascinating — and well-written — part of some blogs.

You can also tell a lot about a blog by what links the blogger chooses to have. A quick scroll through it will give you an idea of what is important to them and whether you will find common ground with them. Or not.

So you would think that linking to other blogs, whether it’s a list of ten or a hundred, would be a good and easy way to help enlighten your readers as to what else is out there besides your posts and pictures. Most bloggers would agree, and a lot of bloggers have comprehensive blogrolls. But a year ago, some of the big blogs began to purge their blogrolls, dropping some — or all — of the smaller, lesser-known blogs in favor of the bigger ones. This was met with shock and scorn by a wide variety of bloggers, who decided that they would seek to add to their blogrolls rather than unceremoniously dump some of their faithful readers. This charge was led by skippy the bush kangaroo and Jon Swift who today are encouraging blogs of all shapes and sizes to join them in opening their blogrolls to those who may not be linked to them and listing blogs that deserve wider recognition.

I join with them in that effort, and I take my lead from The Mahatma X Files (who I just added to the blogroll): If you have a blog that links to me and I have not reciprocated, let me know and I’ll add you to the blogroll.

I don’t read every blog that’s listed on my blogroll every day. But then, the blogroll isn’t just for me; it’s for you, the reader, to explore and follow the stream. It can be a wonderful journey.