Because of the way the blog medium arose out of the interactive affordances of the internet, each blog, post and comment creates a node in a possible network of relations and alliances. Or they can just sit there doing nothing but taking up space.
Whether networks actually come of blogs depends to some degree on their content, and to a large degree on the work of authors and readers to create, maintain, intensify and extend links to other nodes. One of the first things I figured out is if I didn’t want to be just another odd online hermit muttering alone in my own cave, I’d have to go out and drum up business by finding other blogs with dimensions of affinity and making comments suggesting connections. (This can be a pleasure in its own right, of course.) Sometimes folks follow the trail of breadcrumbs and sometimes they don’t, sometimes they like what they find at the end and sometimes not. Over time, though, there tends to be an accumulation of readership and participation.
To shift metaphor, a blog is a bit like a gravitic mass. If it just sits in one place its pull is limited to the stuff that happens to wander by from the depths of outer space. But if it gets on a trajectory and visits other star systems it has a better chance of encountering capturable bodies, ranging from close orbiters to eccentric comet flybys; or even to get caught itself in a multi-gravitic system, like a group blog or a stable multiblog network. So anyway, dynamic motion and a certain weight of presence are important; connections don’t just happen because we’re nice people and our moms like us.
(For some reason Moby seems to think being made of stars helps ya get hot babes.) Btw, from the standpoint of this analysis the current series of posts has been a fail, attracting very little traffic or commentary [thanks to you who did!] and no links. So far Dead Voles has had its biggest days with posts that can be interpreted as gossip. This too is community-building, albeit negatively. Rather than moaning about this the next step might be to reflect on what it is about that communicative mode that attracts attention and participation so well, then find a way to inflect the dynamic for good purposes.
As I’ve already mentioned, the blog medium is not well-suited to enforcing orthodoxy, but it can work well to assemble alliances of affinity. It’s a good way to find and hook up with people who share interests and agendas. This is both a strength and a weakness. Communities’ tendency to create and maintain narrow, exclusionary biases can just be amplified and propagated. But if the community affinities remain open to negotiation and revision there’s an opportunity for the whole to become emergently more than the sum of the parts. I’m afraid I’m not saying much more than the creation myth of Web 2.0 here….