Sturgeon's Law

In debates about the "new media" in general and blogs in particular, I've often found myself reaching for an economical way to express the point that, yes, naturally, most blog posts aren't very enlightening but that's just because most stuff sucks and has nothing to do with blogs per se. Mark Kleiman tells me this is Sturgeon's Law:

All of this reminds me of Sturgeon's Law, named for the great SF writer Theodore Sturgeon, who was supposedly accosted at a Greenwich Village literary party by someone who said to him (I'm quoting from memory), "Sturgeon, how can you stand to publish in those science fiction magazines? Ninety-five percent of the stuff in them is crap." To which Sturgeon calmly replied, "Ninety-five percent of everything is crap."

Quite so. The crux of the matter is that heavy internet users are, almost by definition, people who've discovered feasible methods of tuning out the vast quantity of stuff they don't want to read on the internet and tuning in to the stuff they do want to read. People who haven't done this are, naturally, going to be appalled. Complicated tools like Digg and so forth aside, though, the easiest guide to finding blogs you'll want to read is to just find one blog you like. That blog will contain links to other blogs that provides a convenient way to sample them. And if you like one blog, it's probably that you'll like some of the other blogs it links to, and then you can go from there.

Strident blog-haters seem to me to mostly discover blogs by reading a random sample of blogs that have recent posted hostile things about something the discoverer wrote. Naturally, one's tendency is to find such fare uncongenial, and even if you richly deserve the criticism the odds favor many of your critics being genuinely not worth reading. Under the circumstances, it's easy to convince yourself that the whole thing deserves to be tuned out. This, though, is obviously the wrong way to go about things. One doesn't learn the day's news by looking at a random assortment of "newspaper articles" drawn from wherever; as with anything, you need to know what you're doing for it to be worthwhile.