Thoughts on blogging, popularity, and history

One of my early writings about how I became financially independent in 5 years “stumbled upon” Two days agoShortly after I started blogging and had my 15 minutes of fame. Well, a few days of fame actually. I’m pretty sure that the above story has now been read by far more people in two days than my total scholarly output has read over my entire career.

So what’s the idea behind stumbling sites and similar ones? The problem facing Internet surfers is that the Internet has acquired a dynamic element of blogging, news reports, etc. Since search engines are designed to index static parts of the web, they are no longer the best tool for finding the most interesting content. Instead, websites are quickly grouped into lists that we might call “new.” Users then vote on the “new” list creating a second list called “Popular”. Many users only read and vote on the shorter “popular” list, which increases the numbers. Therefore, if something makes it to the “popular” list, it can quickly become extremely popular as the avalanche begins. Of course it all goes back to the first original snowball. It’s like asking the question: Why is Paris Hilton famous? What are you famous for? She is famous for being famous.

I assume a lot of this post is only interesting to other bloggers as it relates to traffic, eyeballs, SEO, etc. However, there is an important note regarding the rest of society here. If popular acceptance is determined by a single catalyst (at a time when nothing was popular) what does that mean? It is similar to the origin of weather systems. Here the wings of a butterfly could theoretically trigger a process that eventually develops into a storm. Of course, there are many butterflies that flap their wings all the time and do not raise storms. However, if we look mainly at storms, we may miss most of the butterflies. I enjoy exploring “butterflies” and have found a lot of wisdom in “smaller” blogs and “forgotten” posts just by searching the internet. Maybe I’m old school that way? But I find the same structural dynamics when it comes to investing. A lot of thinking is based on what is popular. Have you ever wondered why so many people seem to get the same idea around the same time and start going ahead and doing the same thing? Is it because of the critics? Or is it because you think the same way about the same information? Either way, this leads to momentum moves and eventual bubbles that can generate huge money in the market (as long as you are in front of an audience). It can also lead to significant losses (if you find yourself behind the crowd).
Try reading New list instead of Popular list Although it is more work. You never know what gem might emerge

A better suggestion is to ignore the “news” and start reading history instead. It is often impossible to measure the importance of current events if that is all that is taken into account. However, news is more popular than “context” or history. As hard as it may be, try spending 90% of the time reading history, only 9% of the time reading the news, and maybe only 1% of the time reading everything that is trending. I personally haven’t been able to do it well but I know a guy who managed to stay away from newspapers and magazines for an entire year. I think such a project would create a perspective that popularity is only a small part of the entire universe of events, and more importantly that “new” events are not actually new and most of them are not very important since most of them have happened before.

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Originally published on 01-16-2008 07:42:20.

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