July 30, 2010 8 Comments
It’s interesting to have witnessed the highly contingent trajectory of the blogosphere. One facet that goes underreported is how the name you give to your own blog can dramatically affect whether it becomes, like, one of the main blogs. We have seen this with many blogs.
Take “Instapundit”. Why on earth that blog is practically the center of the blog universe is impossible to explain or quantify rationally. Nothing against Glenn Reynolds or anything, seems like a good enough chap, but far as I can tell, he’s just some law professor from Tennessee. And he barely writes any actual commentary. Seeing his blog, and the traffic it gets, it’s entirely fair to shrug and say ‘I don’t get it’. So you’re left with the conclusion that his blog’s success has very little to do with any of the actual blogging, and everything to do with the fact that, way back when, he fortuitously and/or shrewdly decided to call his blog “Instapundit”, rather than, say, “Links From Tennessee” or “Law School Guy”. Because “Instapundit” was the hook that made that site what it is; seemingly, that’s all it took.
On the flip side, take this here blog. It’s never going to catch on. Why? Well, (among many, many other things) “Rhymes With Cars And Girls”. What does that even mean? And how on earth does it relate to the content? Doesn’t seem to. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or easily conjure any images.
Another blog-naming strategy, one whose boldness and arrogance always impresses me, is the Claim-Stake gambit. This is when someone who has no right whatsoever to stake a claim to be “the” anything, or to speak for this or that profession, hobby or point of view, just goes ahead and names his blog as if it does anyway.
Exhibit A might be “Economist’s View” by Mark Thoma. The unstated principle behind that blog name seems to be that if someone on the internet wants the economist’s view – i.e., wants to know ‘what would an economist think? – well, that’s where he should go. That’s where you’ll find it! Nevermind that Mark Thoma – again, nothing against him or anything – has a very specific point of view that not all economists would agree with, and doesn’t appear to be any kind of exceptional or noteworthy economist or anything. Let alone does he speak for economists in general. He appears to be just one of the thousands of guys who fit the job description ‘economist’, the only difference being that none of them had the bright idea to call their blogs ‘Economist’s View’. He staked the claim to it, so now it’s his, rightly or wrongly. (Notice he didn’t call it An Economist’s View.) So if some other economist wanted to make a blog which he would claim contained the economist view, he couldn’t. That’s all Mark Thoma now.
Sometimes I think maybe I should do a Claim-Stake Gambit and change my blog name. I could call this blog “The [Profession] View” and insert my profession. The only problem is that, unlike Mark Thoma, I would be pretty embarrassed to do that…