We’ve discussed concepts, we’ve discussed theory – now, let’s discuss organizational models.

We all know by now what the “Ghetto” is. It’s the circular, exclusionary group of Christian god-bloggers who can’t seem to get out of their rut. That rut consists of several elements – but I want to focus on two – and the organization (or lack thereof), which causes them.

A. The “Hubs”.

Right now, as I mentioned last time, we have only a few high-traffic/high link bloggers. We have a profusion of polibloggers, and then… everyone else. Everyone has their “spheres of influence”, and the higher traffic blogs are who connect, in a very rudimentary way all of the “god bloggers” together, to some degree. We’ve moved up a tad, from when the “Evangelical Ghetto” was identified – mainly as a result of those bloggers who are now serving as pseudo-hubs – as a result of their reaction to that post.

Now, as I’m writing this, they seem to be branching into meta-blogging – InstaPundit/Hugh Hewitt style. Which, if you remember is the very thing we’ve been discussing. Evangelical Outpost, JollyBlogger, New Covenant, View From the Pew and myself all have “daily roundup” type post series started, or in progress – while Adrian Warnock is taking a slightly different approach.

This underlines the point I was trying to make about “meta-bloggers”. The “Hubs” are who drive the niches. The niches are who drive the hubs – or, as Jollyblogger pointed out today, the thinkers are becoming linkers. We want to be careful here, though. The thinkers, as that was what likely drove their rise “up the charts”, can’t really afford to “stop thinking”. They are good content providers, one and all (excluding myself :D).

While the “linking” does indeed need to get done – we also can’t lose their “thinking”. So, instead of making them jump all over creation to find the interesting links – we need to make it work for them. When I brought up “niches”, I think that conjured up thoughts of some rigidly structured order, where all blogs within that “niche” are categorized, filed, and stored. Well, that isn’t how the blogosphere works, really. We all have wildly disparate interests – and we shouldn’t “tie ourselves down” to a single topic. In fact, I highly, highly doubt that anyone really _would_. How did I solve my own dilemma? Well, with WordPress, my blogging software, I have an RSS feed for each subject I blog under. Each “subsidiary” subject under that is included in tht RSS feed as well. So – I feed my “Apologia” RSS to the Apologetics Aggregator – so, only posts under that category are submitted. That’s one way to do it. I don’t know what other software lets you do that – does MT? I’m pretty sure blogger doesn’t.

Back to the subject, though. We don’t _have_ to be in a single niche. I enjoy exegesis of scripture, web design, “current events commentary”, and the like. I might end up joining other “niche groups” later on, too. Who knows? However, the key that my “organizational plan” hinges on, are aggregators/metablogs for the _niches_. The larger hubs are the “portals”, to some extent. It gives a “rough guesstimate” of the “issues of the day” around the ‘sphere. However, that is general interest, and tends to vary. Those “general” interests, though, will be _specific_ interests to the disparate niches out there. If a “current events” item relates to my apologetics – and I’m the metablog for that sort of blog – shouldn’t I have that issue linked and referred? If I do that, someone like Joe, or Adrian, or Jolly can pick that up, and “spread the meme” – which will send the “general interests” to the “specific interests” – and, thus, generate traffic/links for both. Like many have said – the tail drives the head, which drives the tail. And so on. Making it easier for the head to see the tail is goal one of this thought exercise.

B. Meta-niching

Welcome to meme: part deux. Seriously, though – niches are what we’re looking for, when we say “interesting” (or, dare I say it? “Indeed”), or “read the whole thing”, or some “breaking story” comes down the pipes. We look for someone who knows about it, knew about it before we did, and already has some news on it. Who is most likely to know the obscure, before it becomes mainstream? The niche blog. When you have the niche blogs categorizing _themselves_, by what they write about, and joining _like minded blogs_ in order to form “a more perfect union” – you have blogosphere gold. Alliances. Remember: I’m not trying to straightjacket anyone into a “category”. If you write often on certain subjects, and you do a good job, others who write about similar things will be linking to you – if they can find you. Giving niches their own hubs – which means people who run fairly large blogs, that also write in that niche occasionally (or often) should be linking the most interesting posts within their respective niches – means that they can effectively make themselves heard. The more people you have that know what you’re saying, why you’re saying it, and the perspective you’re coming from, the more likely you are to be read. The more people who read you, the more you have a chance to make an impact. The more impact you make, the more influence you have.

See the progression? Now, if you write consistently well on a subject – and, you’re fair-to-middling at collecting those links, and/or supporting/buttressing your points, you already have the makings of a meta-niche blog. Since you have a decent knowledge of the subject matter – and the blogs who write about it – you know who to talk to, about starting up a “meta-niching” hub. Once you get a few people, you’ll find more, from their blogrolls – and, you’re on your way. Do you have to stick to one niche to write in? Nope. You can still write whatever you want, about whatever you want. However, when you do your meta-blogging, you’ll likely be looking for what the people in your niche are writing about anyway – since you chiefly write about that anyway. It’s not that hard to read the blogs you read anyway – and throw up a list of “readables” out of that blogroll surf you were going to do anyway.

C. The individual blogger

Can be in one niche, 3 niches, or 5 niches. The fewer he is in, however, the more he will be likely to be “featured” in a meta-blog session, though. When you write scattershot, you will receive scattershot results. If you write with a target, and a goal in mind, you will likely receive a targeted audience – and make your points more often. When you have someone “above” you, watching you, you’ll have more of a chance to get “noticed” than you would if you’re just magically picked up off a search, a blogroll, or an aggregator. The above DO happen – but, I believe that is one of the reasons we’re still a ghetto. When a Glenn Reynolds can surf Powerline, Captain’s Quarters, Hugh Hewitt, and Volokh in a day – what is he going to pick up? Well, he’s going to pick up all of their _original_ content, PLUS whatever THEY have garnered in their own metablogging. Did Glenn cause the rise to prominence for a lot of blogs? Yep. How? By pulling them up along with him. So, what does that tell us about meta-blogging, as well as meta-niching? Study the big “poliblogs” that weren’t always linkers. Were they, maybe, originally niche blogs, spotlighted by an Instalaunche? Instalaunches won’t always happen, though. Sometimes, you’ll get Hugh-icaned – or OutPosted (Joe… have a meme.), or Powerlined – which will give you a _large_ boost – if not Instalaunche sized. That lesser (comparitively – if you’re here reading, it’s likely because I got OutPosted (Use the meme, Joe!) in addition to any bootstrapping I may have done. Why? Because I wanted to start something new. I started Vox Apologia, and an aggregator for Apologetics blogs. That’s “my niche.” My goal is to meta-niche apologetics blogs. How do I plan to do it? This may help with explaining my intent. I started Vox Apologia to generate interest in apologetics – which drew traffic to the aggregator. Now, both will draw interest to both me, and to the blogs that participate. As it goes on, I hope to get more involved, and do a “daily roundup” of which blogs are writing on “current events” from an apologetics perspective – which are actively involved in _doing_ apologetics work with seekers (who want Christ defended against all the drivel they’ve been fed about Him), or atheists who attack Christ, or the Word – which we defend. Updates on that, on “what so and so said that may be of interest to apologists”. Stuff like that. The meta-bloggers (the hubs), if they see that there’s an attack on Christianity in the news, can swing by my blog, catch a quick glimpse at what we’re saying about it – and he’ll have his “wide world of apologetics” take on the issue.

See what I’m getting at? Meta-blogging is hard – if you have to run down all the links yourself. If you have them collected conveniently, it makes it much, much easier.

Now, on to comments:

The blogosphere is such a fluid landscape that categorizing all of the blogs out there is no small task. Not only do you have to place each blog where you think it belongs, you have to continually update the parameters and categories.

I completely agree. What this will depend on, is people who share common interests, and people who are willing to be the “hub” for each of those groups. We don’t need to have an external categorization. We need to pick our own subjects – write about them – and let the “hub” for that subject know, if you have something for that category today. See what I’m saying? I don’t want a “directory”, like at “blog4God” – I want “communities”, that have their own leaders. Small groups to the overall church, to compare it to the “establishment” setting.

I do like your thoughts on this, but believe it would be quite difficult as many blogs avoid being typecast. Sure many do fill niches here and there, but so many of them avoid staying with one theme like the plague.

Oh, I know what you’re saying. I agree, too. Like I said earlier, though – it’s not formal, unless you want it to be. If you write on several themes, it’s easy for your “niche hubs” to skim through on their blogroll surf, and see if you have anything for them today. If you don’t, they move on along. However, if you are in several niches, another niche might pick you up that day. It’s all about how YOU want to write. I mean, this post isn’t my “niche” – but, it’s of interest, important (I think, at least), and timely. So, I’m writing it, because I think I have some contributions to add. Are they good? I dunno. It drives the discussion though, hopefully. So, hopefully it will do something positive. Again – it’s not “formal categorization” – it’s “pick your groups”. If you’re a regular contributor, you’ll be linked more often by that “meta-niche”. If not, you’ll get visited, and linked less often – but, it may even out, if you get picked up by another for a post in “their” meta-niche. It’s up to you, and how you write.

Eventually, your niche dries up.

Too true. Which is why, for myself, I picked something that shouldn’t be too hard to keep current and timely. It’s our _job_ to defend the faith – and I’ve neaver heard of us running short on attackers! But, seriously. Like you said, noone sticks with just one thing. So, if one niche runs out… that’s ok. You’re sure to have other interests as well. You know? You’re not “formally” anything, really – unless you want to be.

I love the idea you have, but want to be clear that you want something that the current blogosphere may not be able to provide.

I know what you’re saying. I don’t think it’s as much an “able” thing, as a “paradigm” thing. What else is an “Alliance”, but a group of like-minded blogs with similar interests? The links between one blog and the rest of the blogs drive their “alliance” – because they help and support each other. Now, add in the “meta-blog” factor, at two levels, and you do two things:

Number one, break the Ghetto cycle – you’re in small groups, which can engage effectively, and cooperatively, without the “unwieldy” factor getting in the way. Small = good for effective ministry. Small _supported_ by big is even better. A complete cycle, which includes several “systems” of support is _the best_. Just look at the ecosystem! The heads feed the tails, and the tails feed the heads. When you make the feeding process more efficient, both get fed better, and faster – enabling them to do what they do best in a more coherently effective way.

Number two – facilitate action. Small, compartmentalized groups are excellent for _action_ based ministry. Which is what we lack. However, their weakness is a lack of support – which a “hub” system (especially in multiple levels) can provide – in spades. A “hub” system is terrible at action – if there is only the hub, and all of it’s readers. The hub can get things done – but, he has to know about it – and have time to give “the orders”. If there existed a way to create a “distribution” network, to streamline the process, in both ways (meta-niching!), you not only support faster, and more effectively, but you act faster, and with more support.

Understand what I’m getting at? Large hub + multiple smaller hubs + small “action groups” + individual “actors” = efficiency. Chain of command, supply line, etc.

Individual combat units, with no support, or, support units with no combatants…

That’s the Ghetto. How do we break out?

My thesis: Meta-niching.

Related: Notes on the Ghetto – and Solutions