Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Virginia Postrel, in discussing why bloggers aren't actually all that influential, has the following to say.

My challenge to bloggers who think the blogosphere is immensely influential is the same as it has been for months: Oh yeah? Then why isn't anyone outside the blog world talking about Brink Lindsey's book? Why hasn't it been reviewed in the NYT Book Review? Why did The Washington Post kiss it off in one nasty paragraph? Why isn't Brink on NPR all the time? Why haven't Time and Newsweek quoted him? It hasn't even been reviewed in National Review or The Weekly Standard. All these places have plenty of room for far less worthy authors. Check out the full list of reviews here. This is ridiculously scant treatment of a good and thoughtful book, the sort of serious work that public intellectuals are supposed to do.

When I think about it, Virginia is probably right, my reaction to reading this was to be quite surprised. Normally, I start to pay attention to a book when I see it referred to in several different places that I regularly read or see. The less related the several different places are to each other, the more likely I am to pick the book up. Now, I had seen the book reviewed by Samuel Brittan in the Financial Times , a had seen it discussed in a few blogs, I may or may not have seen the review in The Economist and I saw a prominent display of the book in the Islington Borders just as I was entering the men's bathroom (which means that a British publisher was pushing the book or someone on the staff of the bookshop liked it). This was enough to make me think that I should probably read it and that it was being discussed. (It could mean that my reading habits are more insular than I thought, but I rather doubt it). Whether it means that British people are more interested in reading a strongly pro-globalisation book by an American libertarian than are the Americans, I am not sure. What it might mean is simply that the pro-globalisers in Britain (who mostly read the financial press) are a long way from the sorts of "influential" people who write for the New Statesman or produce programming for the BBC. Typically, I think that such people have missed the point so completely that I don't pay them much attention. The difference might be that in the US, NPR and the Weekly Standard and the National Review aren't so far away that the pro-globalisation, pro-trade blogging types do not care what they think.

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