Why We Don't Always Write Back

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by Patrick Appel
I've been reading Clay Shirky's brilliant little book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations. Here's a paragraph on internet fame that I think Andrew will appreciate when he comes back:   

Glenn Reynolds, a homegrown hero of the weblog world, reports over a million unique viewers a month for Instapundit.com, a circulation that would put him comfortably in the top twenty daily papers in the United States. You can see how interactivty is defeated by an audience of this size -- spending even as minute a month interacting with 10,000 of his readers (only one percent of his total audience) whould take forty hours a week. This is what "interactivty" looks like at this scale --no interaction at all with almost all of his audience, and infrequent and minuscule interaction with the rest...

The Dish has an audience comparable to Reynolds and we do our best to reply to as many readers' e-mails as possible, but even with Andrew and me working together we can't reply to everyone. Shirky later quotes Merlin Mann:

Email is such a funny thing. People hand you these single little messages that are no heavier than a river pebble. But it doesn't take long until you have acquired a pile of pebbles that's taller than you and heavier than you could ever hope to move, even if you wanted to do it over a few dozen trips. But for the person who took the time to hand you the pebble it seems outrageous that you can't handle the one tiny thing. "What 'pile'? It's just a pebble!"

That is the best description of the Dish inbox I've ever seen.

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