What Jarvis keeps missing is what many of us in the Blogosphere have come to discover, and what Elisa Camahort so succinctly says (if I migh paraphrase): the blog world really isn't all that much different than the outside world. It is NOT a meritocracy as so many want to believe. To swallow the myth of meritocracy is to admit to a certain level of naievete about the way things work in the world.
Given the signal-to-noise ratio in the Technorati tail is pretty high, where there are a large percentage not only of abandoned blogs but spamblogs as well, it may be up to some of us who believe in ourselves to go on marketing campaigns that follow the particular etiquette of the blogosphere. Blogosphere ettiquette, though, can sometimes resemble the stilted conversations of 17th century Mannerist comedies, resulting in a serious pain-in-the ass quotient when it comes to trying to figure out the right etiquette for approaching a particular blogger we might want to be linked to.
On Jersey Exile's comments, Jarvis suggests approaching blogs who are similar to our own. But, sometimes that can be a subjective call. I have found that some male bloggers can often be very harshly judgemental of female bloggers, and even when there are similarities of style, the female blogger will not get the requested link.
Although I have my own empirical proof that Jarvis' suggestion isn't the only way to link...many of my links on my other blog's blogroll are quite different from my own blog--some in style and some in content. Many I've discovered by doing Technorati searches. They've never approached me to link to them. When I find them, I will always cross link, and often email them to let them know. I think this is not just necessary but also human and polite. (It also corresponds to Jersey Exile's idea of blogrolls being like libraries--I'm paraphrasing here too, but it works--my blogroll is my library of cool people)
So, there seem to be two distinct philosophies on linking--link to what is relavent to your blog's subject matter, or link to blogs that you enjoy. But, in either case, the question remains: how does one rise out of the tail if one doesn't get a boost up?
Jarvis would argue that the boost doesn't matter, but, frankly, if you are using a blog for more than just bloviating to hear yourself bloviate, the boost matteras. The boost I received on my main blog from a link from Halley Suitt made a difference in the way I view myself within the blogosophere. I have a very unique personal voice, and one that I have strongly believed in for quite some time, but wasn't sure how to get the attention of an A-lister. Emailing didn't work, so I opened my big mouth at Blogher. Halley's link has helped open my blog up to new readers--many who may never have been able to find me in the noise-happy Technorati tail. By that, I may accumulate new links, or just new lurkers, but, either way, my voice is being heard.
And, frankly, even Jarvis' drubbing and my spat with Jay Rosen boosted my readership here--on a tiny blog that was developed at the behest of the editor in chief of Masslive.com.
So, let me boil this down: the Blogosphere is not a meritocracy. there is far too high a signal-to-noise ratio for it to be a meritocracy. Not to mention that the virutal world of the blogosphere, when looked at objectively, really isn't all that much different than the outside world. Links to A-listers blogs make a difference for those of us in the Technorati tail who truly want to have our voices heard. And how we get those links might be quite similar to the way in which we make networking connections in the outside world--by relavence to other bloggers' content, but also by charming the pants off them.
They don't call it "social software" for nothing!