Sunday, November 13, 2005

Julian Dibbell on MetaFilter

Julian Dibblell, digital culture commentator and author of the widely anthologized "A Rape in Cyberspace," has a piece on the success of MetaFilter in the Village Voice. From the introduction:
What's unusual about MetaFilter, rather, is that its thousands of contributors manage to make all those parts add up to a whole. Smart, avid, leanly written, and likably lefty, the posts and comments that frame the links somehow cohere into a recognizable sensibility rather than just more evidence of imminent worldwide information meltdown.

You'd think this would be an easier trick to pull off. After all, the high-toned generalist magazines-The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly-have been at it for over a century, and there's no shortage of bloggers who've been absorbing their elegantly balanced worldview for decades. Nonetheless it's a reliable rule of thumb that if a blog isn't a scattershot case of attention deficit disorder, then it's a single-issue exercise in obsessive compulsion. And while some might argue that only heroic editorial effort can overcome the tendency of blogs-especially collaborative ones-to go to one extreme or the other, MetaFilter shows otherwise. Look under the hood, and you'll find that a few simple tweaks-tight limits on the frequency of posts, for instance, and an active but light-handed pruning of redundant items-account for much of its success. The rest is bottomless, unquenchable curiosity about the world, but that's the easy part, right?
Read more.

via Depraved Librarian
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