The A-list debate rages on. Every couple of months it rears its head as people argue over whether the A-list exists and whether it remains relevant.
In this latest installment, Hugh MacLeod is arguing that social networks and social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, Pownce) have given people more power and ability to build their own groups, and not be as reliant on A-listers as hubs of attention. I think blogs already gave people that power; there are plenty of “networks of blogs” and “blog communities” that are thriving without A-list support. You don’t need links from A-listers, nor will they suddenly turn you from a zero to hero overnight. But…
The A-List does exist.
The A-List is relevant.
What people miss (on both sides of the argument) is how the A-list is relevant.
The A-list is made up of tech-focused, early adopters. If you’re in the tech business, running a Web 2.0 startup, hoping to generate buzz and build key relationships in places like the Valley, then being in-tune with the A-list and being able to reach the A-list has value. Having Robert Scoble promote you, your business and your product will help. It’s not the “be all and end all” but it will help.
The A-list, within the tech community, has the power to create lots and lots of buzz.
That can be useful.
But for most people (since most people in the blogosphere aren’t starting Web 2.0 startups) it’s not relevant.
For me, that’s the end of the argument. It’s a question of relevancy. It’s a question of strategic value. Not celebrity, not hero worship, not “who has the most friends in every social network.”
The A-list exists.
The A-list is relevant…for certain people, under certain circumstances.
Where we all go wrong is that too many people believe that being connected to the A-listers will be of real value to them. In reality, it won’t.
In Tony Hung’s world, the A-list matters a great deal. He lives and breathes Web 2.0, reports on it and the relationships he builds with A-listers can help him further his own goals (whatever they may be.) And Tony points out the obvious, which I agree with — some people are more popular than others.
For Brian Clark, the A-list is irrelevant. In his brilliantly titled post, Blogging is Dead (Long Live Value Blogging), he says he’s thrilled that tools like Twitter and Pownce exist, so all the banal “stuff” people want to write about (like what they’re having for lunch, etc.) moves to those mediums, and blogging is left to those that, “…provide true value by teaching, informing and offering unique perspective are thriving.”
Fair enough, I’ll buy that argument. There’s no question that quality blogs are thriving in a huge way, irrespective of social networking tools. And I don’t see a time in the near future where we won’t have quality blogs growing bigger and bigger audiences. No amount of social networking tools will change the value of blogs.
But Brian’s focused almost exclusively on blogging. And in that case, he’s right, you don’t need the A-list for your blog to be successful. On the other hand, if you’re trying to launch a Web 2.0 startup and you’re hoping to get mentioned on TechCrunch, get Jason Calacanis as an advisor, and generate lots of initial buzz, then the A-list becomes much more important.
Some people will always be more popular than others. That’s how the world works. And in some cases it’s worth being buddy-buddy with the popular kids. And in other cases it doesn’t matter. Each of us has to decide whether it’s really worth it or not, and go from there.