Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bless Bloggers!

Why did blogging take off? The sophisticated web publishing hidden under your finger tips and the plunging price of storage, connectivity and your latest PC all enable it but, taking away ego and commercial interest, what is the fire that puts such a nice head of steam in the blogosphere? Is buzz that damned addictive? I think part of the story is not in the bloggers or the technology which most of us take for granted five short years into its life...not unimportant but not entirely the motivator. I think the energy we have been throwing into the reading and the writing of liberal blogs owes a lot to the bought and packaged half truths the MSM just seems unable to vary or avoid. I have used the term "for profit" media and "for cause" media and that doesn't quite say what I want about our motives but its in the ball park. To give another example of the force I see at work here, consider the growth of Wikis, especially Wikipedia vs the dead tree encyclopedias. We all know to beware of the polluted topics in Wikipedia but in spite of that I have not made use of a printed encylopedia or even Encarta in years. Not that they are so hard to use but that they leave much out, some omissions owe to limitations of the organizations that produce them, some to the quiet kowtowing to sacred cows, the same cattle MSM worships and bloggers barbecue.

This week provides us with a wonderful case in point. There has been a huge stink about the two great liberal bloggers hired by the Edwards campaign [did they get fired? Gladly NO!]. A conservative Catholic guardian of public morality named Donahue, a man who demonstrates what bigotry is by feeling the need to apply that word to half the people he writes about, cried out that Edwards' new left wing writing talent had written naughty words and often ridiculed faith and the failthful, particulary of Mr. Donahue's denomination. That is all the closer Mr. Donahue ever reads Pandagon posts, all the more subtlety he can bear. Coturnix, one of the most avid scanners and assiduous collectors of the scattered welters of news and opinion that like the cascaded firing of neurons through the blogosphere, has put most of the development of the story together in one voluminous collection of links. By mid day the drama of whether or not Edwards would dismiss Amanda or Melissa was resolved in a way that relieved most liberal bloggers but involved enough equivocation for the righteous wing partisans to predict some blowback and the least compromising liberals [i.e. those whose life's work in science has been baselessly attacked by fundamentalists] to complain that Amanda in particular has been damned by faint praise. You really ought to read some of the stuff Coturnix has linked to get the flavor of the "discourse". It is way too much to put in focus and in fact I am not sure any one conclusion I have read could pass for the "last word".

For what it is worth, these events have settled a few things in my mind:
Disliking party politics as much as I do, I have not yet taken a hard look at any of the candidates and so had no particular impressions of Edwards' character. But now I think:
  • He sticks by people for their character and ability rather than abandoning them for their inconvenient peccadilloes.
  • He does not bow to wingnuttery, I hope he learns how to sink swiftboats.
  • Edwards can deal with the realities of political communication in an online world.
And it is that last point that matters as an example of where I think the fire is that makes blogging hot. Time Magazine weighed in clumsily on the dust up and let slip one paragraph that glaringly exposes the collision [i.e the truck hitting the deer] of blogging media culture and MSM media culture:
But bottling the lightning of blogger authenticity is not easy. Many blogosphere activists suspect anyone signing on with a campaign of selling out. And in the era of drum-tight message control, campaigns are not inclined to tolerate the independence bloggers need to maintain their credibility.

Regarding disciplined and tight message control, Edwards' campaign does not need that as a Rove-run campaign would. Edwards is going to campaign by building consensus openly and by offering the nation a chance to rediscover its innate conscience. Consensus is the best art of a politician and not of great use to a blogger. A conscience on the other hand has been missing from our politics the last six years and these two women will redress some of that. Message control is vital to Mr. Rove's art of careful fibbing to diverse single-issue minorities. That craft built him an unstable majority and, except for vetoed stem cell research and neanderthals on the bench, produced few of the long term gains those minorities were promised. Time Mag can be forgiven for profoundly misunderstanding "message control"...it is largely an outdated product of the well controlled MSM of which Time is one of the prime exhibits despite a glitzy blogger on their site. The media culture of a blogged world is far different and puts the job of control and spin on the consumer. The "truth" of anything is suspect anyway nowadays and largely because of the way MSM have controlled stories and said what they got paid to and not what they were afraid to. Only a person with fear of alternative sources, no computer and a TV with one channel has an excuse to fail to quickly confirm offered facts and opinions in this era.

I do not hold so highly a truth I am just told.
I will interact with information before I am sold.

1 comment:

coturnix said...

Those are excellent points!