I've been continuing to ponder Emergence (my Book of the Month) in relation to the blogosphere. I've decided group blogs are not, in fact, an "emergent property" of blogs--they are not assemblies of blogs, they are assemblies of people. In an emergent system, the agents (here, blogs) retain their integrity and agglomerate. What is needed is a way for solo blogs to self-organize. How are ten solo blogs linked together different from ten solo blogs working independently? I don't know. That would be emergence, and the only way to know what happens is to try it.
So I have a proposal.
Some explanation first. Frankly, my "emergence" thinking overlaps my concern for "the plight of the solo blog." Group blogs are nice, but if the pull of the forum they provide overshadows the community of blogs from which it arose, at some point it's not blogging anymore--it becomes a form of post and chat. A kinder and gentler form of bulletin board blather. A community that, in ways subtle or overt, subsumes the individual voice in a community conversation. The two primary Bloggernacle group blogs still have a good deal of substance, maintained by adding new group bloggers (Bcc has added three in the last two weeks) and attracting new guests (such as the truly stunning interview with Armand Mauss at T&S). And individual voices there are still quite distinct. But group blogging is different than solo blogging, where you are solely responsible for content and simply speak your mind. The individual voice is always more interesting and less edited that a committee report or any other managed forum.
So I'm proposing simple rules for a generic and scalable solo blog self-organization scheme to strengthen their presence against the growing weight of group blogs. Call it a blog club for solo blogs. The goal is balance in the blogosphere. I'll run through a quick FAQ.
Q2 - What are the benefits and duties of club membership?
A2 - Simple. A club member must visit each of the other club sites once a day (weekends optional) and leave a comment (as simple as "Nice post. Love the lawyer joke."). That's it. Think about it: if there are 8 club members, that's 35 comments per week on your solo blog. Oh, and members must post a blogroll of fellow club sites. Zero cost. Quit anytime.
Q3 - Any growth limits?
A3 - Yes, a ten blog maximum. To grow further, split into two new clubs and add new members.
Q4 - Why the Mormon Blog Club?
A4 - That's the first theme because this is the Bloggernacle and I'm the founder. It's a loose theme, since solo blogs can of course say anything they want, but some focus is needed to avoid a "here's what I had for breakfast" blog or club. When clubs split, the two new clubs can morph their theme in any direction, a good way to stay interesting. I would expect the second generation to try "Mormon Law" or "Mormons and Science" or even "East Coast Bloggers." By four or five generations you might have a club theming around Christian foreign policy; by ten you can have absolutely anything.
Q5 - How do I apply?
A5 - It's a blog. Leave a comment ("Sign me up") with a link.
Q6 - Who decides?
A6 - The Chair of the Club. That's me for now. Bloggers love company, so the bias is toward acceptance.
Q7 - Tell me how a club splits again?
A7 - On the Web, things get stale fast. I think a club lasts maybe a month or two. To split, I apply the playground system: elect two Chairs, then people follow one or the other to one of the two new clubs, each with its Chair, which then add new members over time until they too split.
Q8 - So it grows. How big will this get?
A8 - Well, it's exponential. If a club splits every two months, there will be a thousand clubs in twenty-two months and a million in forty-two months. In sixty-six months there would be four billion clubs, but I imagine the exponential growth will burn out somewhere in the millions. But the Web is bigger than you think, and everyone with a blog wants to talk.
Q9 - What about people who have two or more blogs?
A9 - No problem. It's a club for blogs, not people. If you walk and talk like a solo blog, you're eligible. It doesn't really matter whether you post a real name, a handle, or even that you are just a computer AI project created by some grad student at the University of Illinois. But I'm human, I promise. If you're a blog, you can join the club if you meet the simple requirements and get a thumbs up from the Chair based on your blog's record of posts.
Q10 - Sounds too simple.
A10 - Simple enough to work. Beat the rush--join today.