Warning: highly subjective opinion-piece and a plea for enlightenment follows: no useful information imparted here....

A little while ago, my blog got nominated for an award. A single nomination was enough to put it onto a shortlist, made available for public voting. I have been thinking about what this means.... or doesn't mean. At the same time, I've been thinking about those lists of 'must read' blogs which I come across from time to time - (inevitably, a more recent trend is for lists of 'Twitterers you should follow'). I would also include 'blogrolls' in this category. I think all of these things are related, and I think I have broadly the same misgivings about them.

Take this whole business of awards for blogs. At one level it just doesn't interest me at all - I would no more read a blog because it was given an award than I would go see a movie because it won an 'Oscar'. Having said that, I don't have anything against the Oscars. I think what bothers me slightly about awards for blogs, is that the perceived benefit, presumably, is to give more exposure to popular (or 'good') blogs. Essentially, it is another way of creating a list of 'must-read blogs' only this time it's as voted for by you, the public.

I'm not the only one a little bothered by this. Doug Johnson says:

But I just don't get it. What is the purpose of awards and rankings? Do we really need them in this long-tailed communication medium of blogging? In fact, might they even be counter productive? [...] But comparing the size (popularity) of mine to the size (popularity) of yours seems the antithesis of the "I'll share mine if you share yours" world of personal learning networks.1

But then again, there are others who are clearly very pleased to be nominated and seem to relish the competition, reminding and urging their readers to vote for them.

I think that the reason I don't like the idea of such lists is the way in which they seem to embody a process of 'received wisdom'. The marvelous thing about the blogosphere for me is the way in which the playing-field has been leveled. If you write compellingly about something in which people are interested then they will tend to find it. The opportunity for diversity of thinking and discourse on such a scale is still new - we should cherish this. The chance to make new connections, have new conversations with people with new points of view, is something that the blogosphere seems to almost uniquely afford us.

I am very interested in knowing who reads my blog, rather than how many. Writing this particular blog is an 'extra-curricular' activity for me, so metrics about how many hits I get etc. are not very relevant. When I discovered that someone had nominated my blog for an award, I was pleased that they had done so and, more importantly, was interested to read what they said in their nomination. I would have been equally pleased with this if it had been a random comment, out of any context of competition, about my blog. Perhaps the superstructure of a competition/award is necessary to bring out such comments?

This is not something I feel terribly strongly about - it doesn't affect me much and until recently, I had been able to largely ignore it. I feel compelled to say something here mostly because hardly anyone else seems to feel this way. I feel slightly out-of-step with people with whom I normally have much in common. So I would welcome comments: what am I missing here?

  1. http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2008/12/1/on-ranking-awards-and-other-nonsense.html ↩︎