After reading through Freakonomics, the wildly popular New York Times bestseller that has edged economics into the mainstream, I'm reminded of a saying attributed to Mark Twain, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." Well, if Mark Twain were still living today, he'd probably amend that to say, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and Freakonomics." After all, instead of being a serious book about economics, Freaknomics is really about the art of statistical data-mining. The forward to the book even admits that there's no unifying theory that holds the entire book together -- it's like Malcolm Gladwell on steroids (big on anecdotal evidence and pop culture references, little on rigorous academic thought). The two co-authors come up with a whole number of "freakish" conclusions by sifting through mounds of statistical data. In the process, they conclude that swimming pools are more dangerous than guns, that sumo wrestlers behave like cheating schoolteachers, and that most drug dealers - far from being blinged-out millionaire gangsters - are actually minimum wage foot soldiers who still live with their mothers.
That's where the "why bloggers are like drug dealers" reference comes in. Consider this interesting passage from "Freakonomics" (page 106 of the hardback edition):
"In the glamour professions - movies, sports, music, fashion - there is a different dynamic at play. Even in second-tier glamour industries like publishing, advertising, and media, swarms of bright young people throw themselves at grunt jobs that pay poorly and demand unstinting devotion. An editorial assistant earning $22,000 at a Manhattan publishing house, an unpaid high-school quarterback, and a teenage crack dealer earning $3.30 an hour are all playing the same game, a game that is best viewed as a tournament.
The rules of a tournament are straightforward. You must start at the bottom to have a shot at the top... You must be willing to work long and hard at substandard wages. In order to advance in the tournament, you must prove yourself not merely above average but spectacular... And finally, once you come to the sad realization that you will never make it to the top, you will quit the tournament. (Some people hang on longer than others - witness the graying "actors" who wait tables in New York - but people generally get the message quite early.)"
There you have it - entry-level bloggers tapping away on their keyboards at $500 - $1000 a month are like entry-level crack dealers making $3.30 an hour and hoping for the big score. Just like there are no 30-year-old crack dealers (according to the authors of Freakonomics), it also makes sense that most bloggers toiling in obscurity are below the age of 30. Thanks to Freaknomics, it's now possible to understand the basic business model of the blogosphere!