Blogging is not a zero-sum game

Blogging, unlike traditional publishing, is not a zero-sum game. it is vital that you understand what this means.

The traffic for each participant increases as more people are involved in discussing a given topic.

There are no limits on publishing our discoveries. We are not competing for column space in some dead-tree publication like the New York Times or the more upscale Tin House Magazine.

There is unlimited space to express our understandings of life. We have a creative commons at work here which accretes value with every post and comment.

The value grows, not as the number of nodes connected, but by the number of possible relationships formed.

If I write about topic X, and someone else writes his own post about
topic X, we generate more interest and more traffic for both sites. If
we exchange comments and link to each other, our individual traffic
increases again. This is true whether we agree or violently disagree.

Thus several business bloggers corresponding regularly will generate
many more hits and relationships than they could possibly do alone.

One blogger introduces you to others and soon you have a circle of
new friends who have affinity for you and your talent. Admiration works
both ways, of course, and the usual result of this online networking is
a renewed enthusiasm for life and the creative process that goes with
it.

If I send people to see a friend’s weblog and to marvel at the
talent displayed there, I don’t lose visitors, I get repeat visits from
people looking to see who I am going to recommend next.

Some people have claimed they don’t need blogs because they have forums.

Forums  are zero-sum games in that the needs of the participants are
subjugated to the needs of the community. Topics are restricted and you
often have to register to comment, if you publish freely, others will
take you to task.

Forums are a nice intermediate step on the way to full citizen
publishing. A training ground, as it were, but no substitute for
blogging.

The non-zero-sum game is the unexamined mechanism that underlies and explains the power generated by bloggers.

Talented people with vast experience in older forms of media often
have a mental block when it comes to understanding the power of blogs,
because they have little experience in non-zero-sum games. Too bad.
They need to experience it by actually blogging, not by talking about
blogging.

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0 Responses to Blogging is not a zero-sum game

  1. As always David, you have just the right words for the occasion. Your warmth and sense of working together for the benefit of all shines through, as it always does. 🙂

  2. Josh Cohen says:

    So if blogging isn’t zero-sum but forums are, what happens when you have blog that uses forums instead of comments?

    Just curious as to your take.

  3. Interesting concept as you have demonstrated on your website.

    I think of yours more as a forum site, than a blog. You have moderators and people making comments, which is good, but one has to launch off in several different directions to see what the conversations are about.

    The real test is whether people like it and keep visiting. If they do that, it really doesn’t matter what your format is.

    Blogging is not regulated by convention or by good sense. If we say things that are interesting, visitors come and tell others. That’s the simplicity of it all.

    Best of luck with your blog/forum format.

  4. Dave Tufte says:

    I think what you’re driving at is that blogging is an example of a positive network externality: something that gets more valuable the more people use it (like phones).

  5. Not the same thing. Read the definition of a zero-sum and a non-zero-sum game again. Phone networks and phone connections tend toward zero sum, because they have limited simultanity. If you are using a phone line, it limits access by others. Same with phone networks.

    Non-zero-sum is a specific definition. It means what it means. The importance of this in blogging is just this:

    The value grows, not as the number of nodes connected, but by the number of possible relationships formed.

  6. 1-1=0 says:

    If you write about topic X, and someone else writes his own post about topic X, we generate more interest and more traffic for both sites. And less traffic for my site about topic Y.

    And if more people read blogs, fewer people read newspapers.

    The hard currency of media is human attention, this is why even media is a zero sum game.
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