Blogging Alone

This column was written by Dean Barnett.
A few months ago, Markos Moulitsas, proprietor and founder of the left-wing blog Daily Kos, penned a brief but extremely insightful posting. Under the heading, "Evidence that we live in a different world," Moulitsas pointed to a recent Time magazine poll that showed 79 percent of the American public had never heard of (or didn't have an opinion of) Ann Coulter. Moulitsas wrote, "I'd venture to say that 100 percent of this site's readers know who Anthrax is."

Indeed, there is little doubt that the habitués of the Daily Kos, like their hated cousins who read popular conservative blogs such as Power Line and Little Green Footballs, live in very different worlds than their friends and neighbors. Blog readers are typically voracious gatherers of news. They not only simply know who people such as Ann Coulter are, they usually have strong opinions about these minor public figures, too. This is an unusual trait. After all, while Ann Coulter may be a polarizing firebrand beloved by her supporters and loathed by her detractors, when it comes to fame she's hardly Madonna.

For students of the blogosphere, it came as little surprise when the popularity of politically oriented blogs began to tumble in the wake of the presidential election this past November. But something funny has happened since then. While the traffic numbers of conservative blogs have remained at roughly the same levels following their post election slide, the left-wing blogosphere -- and especially the Daily Kos -- have almost fully rebounded. While Glenn Reynold's Instapundit, the most popular conservative blog, averages in the neighborhood of 150,000 page views a day, the Daily Kos now averages over 550,000; the sites were almost equally trafficked just last fall.

Theories abound for why the Daily Kos has left the right-wing blogosphere so far in the dust. One plausible explanation is that the Daily Kos has engendered a tremendous sense of community amongst it audience/contributors. While conservative blogs remain for the most part virtual op-ed columns (with the notable exception of Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs), the Daily Kos has become a virtual family which allows readers to write their own blogs-within-the-blog (called diaries) and to engage in limitless amounts of commenting. Whatever the reason, there is nothing like the Daily Kos on the web -- it is a phenomenon and the unquestioned leader of the blogs.