Monday, August 12, 2002

You might have noticed (or maybe not) that I have a bunch of links to other bloggers in the left hand column. But no link to the almighty Instapundit. Why?

It's not because I don't read Glenn's site; I do every day. It's not that I don't approve of and like his site; I do. It's not that I don't admire his path-breaking efforts on behalf of the world of blogdom; I do.

It's just that a link to Instapundit seemed utterly superfluous. The fact is, anyone reads this site is already aware of Instapundit and has his page bookmarked. Heck, even though this site has gotten mentioned in Slate and John Leo's column in the past couple of weeks (lots of visitors from that), there are still pretty good odds that all of you regular readers (whoever you are) found out about my site first because of 1) Glenn's links to me back in the fall (my first, abortive go-round) or 2) Glenn's links to me announcing my triumphant return to the blogosphere post-judicial-clerkship. For me to link to Instapundit -- well, it would be kind of like a White House cook offering to write a letter of recommendation for George W. Bush. The peasant granting his audience to the king. That sort of thing.

Which made me wonder: Why do so many people link to Instapundit? He's the most-linked-to blogger out there, with a smashing 438 known links to his site, just from other bloggers. I mean, people who haven't even put up their first posting yet are probably out there, linking to Instapundit. Why? What is the social meaning of this phenomenon?

Part of it, of course, is his sheer popularity. Which only stands to reason.

But that's not all. Another factor, I think, is that linking to Instapundit makes people feel cool. It's a way of signaling that you are in the know, that you have some sort of connection to the big guys, that you're a real blogger just like everyone else who links to Instapundit.

Another thing is that Instapundit has won himself canonical status in our little world. And what makes something canonical is precisely that it is so strongly associated with the field in question that they seem to go together like peas and carrots. To be part of the blogosphere without mentioning and linking to Instapundit is like speaking of judicial review without mentioning Marbury v. Madison, or law-and-economics without mentioning Ronald Coase, or modern political philosophy without mentioning John Rawls, or evolutionary theory without mentioning Charles Darwin, or Western movies without mentioning John Wayne -- you get the point.

Hmmm. Maybe I should put up that perma-link to Instapundit after all. . . .


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