It Happened to Me Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Blogstravaganza! (and a bit about echo chambers, too…)

Blogstravaganza in full swing! From left to right: Andrew Coyne, John Bowman, Yours Truly. Photo from A North American Patriot.

Let me begin with a shout-out to all the attendees of last Friday’s Blogstravaganza…

(If I missed you, let me know!)

My thanks to Bob Tarantino and Jason Cherniak for putting the whole thing together. It was good to catch up with old friends from previous gatherings and meet some new ones as well. The success of this event shows that the blogosphere is alive and well here in Accordion City.

It’s also compartmentalized.

Echo Chambers

If you’re a regular reader of this blog or a regular attendee of the GTABloggers gatherings, there’s a strong possibility that many of the blogs listed above will be unfamiliar to you. Likewise, this blog was unfamiliar to the bloggers whom I hadn’t met at previous gatherings of the local Vast Right Wing Conspiracy bloggers, despite recent links from a number of Technorati Top 100 sites and recent mentions in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Macleans. One attendee didn’t know who Andrew Coyne was, despite the fact that he’s one of Canada’s highest-profile newspaper writers, while another lamented that Toronto seemed to have more right-wing bloggers than left-wing ones, even though attending a GTABlogger party might make you think the opposite was true.

This sort of thing is to be expected. After all, the term “community” has the same root as the word “common”, as in “sharing some trait or quality”. There’s a natural tendency towards gravitating towards those who share your interests, and in these politically-charged times, towards those who share your politics. There are some advantages to this, not the least of which is that a community can often do what an individual cannot.

This also has its downsides. Consider the “echo chamber” effect, in which the voices of a community serve to amplify voices from within the community and diminish outside voices, forming a self-reinforcing “feedback loop”. This can lead to all sorts of problems, from a “tunnel visioned” mindset to a lack of new ideas within the community to the demonization of other communities based on stereotypes and prejudices.

I think that Bob and Jason did a very good job at attempting to reach Toronto bloggers of all political persuasions. Perhaps it’ll take a few more of these gatherings to bring out more local bloggers whose politics are “centre” and “left”.

Your opinions, please…

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