Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Levy: "Why so many white male bloggers?"

Veteran Newsweek tech columnist Steven Levy wrote a new article this week, questioning why the vast majority of the most popular blogs in existence are by middle-class white guys, given the decentralized and supposedly color-blind nature of the web. The surprising thing to me is that he mostly blames it on other white guys exclusively linking to other white guys, and doesn't even mention what seems to me to be the most obvious reason: Because it's much easier in our society for middle-class white guys to obtain the computer, broadband internet access, and cushy office jobs that allows a person to be a blogger to begin with.

There's this huge problem I see among a lot of people who are hardcore online users, which is that they simply assume it's just as easy for everyone in society to have such online access as it is for them. Let me assure you that this is not the case! I'm a white guy myself, for example, who can't afford home internet access, and I cannot even begin to tell you what a pain in the ass it is to update this blog as a result. Now imagine that I didn't own a $500 Palm Treo (which is, in fact, how I manage to update my blog most of the time), and couldn't afford a personal computer, and certainly couldn't afford the money it costs to go to an internet cafe, and was forced to work a blue-collar job ten hours a day that never gave me access to a work computer, much less the hours upon hours of sitting on one's ass in a cubicle that is needed to do such a blog from work. Now are you beginning to understand why the most popular bloggers out there are a bunch of middle-class white guys?

To me it's not nearly as much a matter of bias as it is of simple numbers - as long as the majority of bloggers overall are middle-class white guys, then naturally the majority of popular blogs are going to be by middle-class white guys as well. This is never going to change, either, until we as a society start taking some expensive, long-term steps to ensure that everyone is getting the same access to the web, no matter what their class or background. (Thanks to Gawker, by the way, for pointing this article out.)