The blogger A-list continues to view the notion of “gatekeepers” defensively, as if it were an accusation (or “whining“) — Seth Finkelstein does a fantastic job of debunking the notion that there are no gatekeepers, using the romantic myth of new frontiers.

In response to Seth’s post, mine, and a few others — Doc Searls writes a moving personal essay about his experience with gatekeepers. I understand Doc’s guilt about being a gatekeeper after having been held back by gatekeepers his whole life — but he shouldn’t feel guilty. As I said to him the other day:

Doc’s filter and the filters of other “A-list” bloggers serve a hugely useful function — they help us make good use of our limited time to surf and read.

In other words, gatekeepers are not inherently bad. In the hands of good people, like most blogger A-listers, they help us, not hinder us. I have never spoken of gatekeepers as a complaint — although I’ve often been accused of complaining. To me, it’s a matter of empirical observation.

Doc asserts, from the Cluetrain, that “Hyperlinks subvert hierarchies” — but when you look at how the Web actually works, you realize that hyperlinks CREATE hiearchies. How do Google and Technorati rank? Based on links. Who gets the most attention via Google and Technorati? Those with the most links.

Perhaps there has been a democratization of who can “work their way up” through linking, but as with American capitalism, there is still a top and a bottom. There will be many who resent it and many who deny it — but the fact is that human systems for creating order out of chaos tend to create hiearchies, and systems that attempt to eschew hiearchies — like communism — only work on paper.

So if you’re a gatekeeper, you should embrace it — and use your power wisely.

UPDATE
Hats off to Kent Newsome for simultaneous putting all this silliness over gatekeepers in perspective and for writing one of the FUNNIEST posts I’ve read in a long time: Nerd Wars V: The Gatekeepers Strike Back. I get to play a bit part:

Meanwhile, Scott Karp, circling the Deathstar and trying to decide whether to shoot or land, says there’s nothing wrong with being a Jedi Gatekeeper, as long as you use the Force wisely.

Thankfully, Ken knows how to use the Force and not take himself or any of us too seriously. Please read Kent’s post, have a good laugh, then go do something useful.