When I started blogging about 4 years ago there were a handful of 'A-List" Tech bloggers that dominated the blogosphere. Mike Arrington, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer, Marc Andreessen, Steve Rubel, and a few others were everywhere...every day. It was much smaller then, but they were the recognized leaders and continued to be until recently.
Mike Arrington was, and still is, the king of tech bloggers with his TechCrunch blog. But this week Mike decided to step away from blogging for a while after repeated attacks from other bloggers. Jason Calacanis quit blogging about a year ago because he was tired of all the "haters" constantly harassing him. Jason now shares his thoughts on a highly successful email distribution list. Robert Scoble still blogs occasionally but is much more into making web videos, Twitter, and FriendFeed. Dave Winer calls himself one of the most hated people on the Internet.
Movie stars have lived with the jealousy driven hate / rumors forever. It is a strange quirk of human nature that we idolize someone, but delight in tearing them down at the same time. Top bloggers have become similar to movie stars…sadly, with the same negative fallout. Mike Arrington is right. Some things need to change.
The tech blog world is now dominated by professionals, many of them from the tech magazines and newspapers. TechMeme is still the best aggregator of tech blogs, and reflects the movement towards professional, money making, blogs. Take a look at the TechMeme Leaderboard. Not a single one of the top 50 is written by an individual blogger, and only 2 of the top 100 blogs are written by individuals that don't have advertisers or sponsors.
Maybe this is the natural order of things, and the way it should be. Maybe the masses don't want a handful of A Listers getting all the attention. Maybe magazines and newspapers serve a very useful purpose by hiring the most talented writers and using editors to screen out all but the most important news and commentary. Maybe when faced with an avalanche of blogs, tweets, and feeds, it is natural to gravitate towards a filter like TechMeme to prioritize and categorize it all.
The blogosphere in 2009 is very different than it was a few years ago. Some good, some bad. I still find it to be the best source for tech news, insights from entrepreneurs, and the best venue for comments and conversation. Let's hope it remains civil and respectful. And, let's hope that Mike Arrington, Jason Calacanis, and others return to blogging sometime soon.