Dissing the Blogosphere
There’s an interesting critical piece about Blogging on Mother Jones. Quote:
“The constellation of opinion called the blogosphere consists, like the stars themselves, partly of gases. This is what makes blogs addictive — that is, both pleasurable and destructive: They’re so easy to consume, and so endlessly available. Their second-by-second proliferation means that far more is written than needs to be said about any one thing. To change metaphors for a moment (and to deepen the shame), I gorge myself on these hundreds of pieces of commentary like so much candy into a bloated — yet nervous, sugar-jangled — stupor. Those hours of out-of-body drift leave me with few, if any, tangible thoughts. Blog prose is written in headline form to imitate informal speech, with short emphatic sentences and frequent use of boldface and italics. The entries, sometimes updated hourly, are little spasms of assertion, usually too brief for an argument ever to stand a chance of developing layers of meaning or ramifying into qualification and complication. There’s a constant sense that someone (almost always the blogger) is winning and someone else is losing. Everything that happens in the blogosphere — every point, rebuttal, gloat, jeer, or “fisk” (dismemberment of a piece of text with close analytical reading) — is a knockout punch. A curious thing about this rarefied world is that bloggers are almost unfailingly contemptuous toward everyone except one another. They are also nearly without exception men (this form of combat seems too naked for more than a very few women). I imagine them in neat blue shirts, the glow from the screen reflected in their glasses as they sit up at 3:48 a.m. triumphantly tapping out their third rejoinder to the WaPo’s press commentary on Tim Russert’s on-air recap of the Wisconsin primary.”
The vigour of this piece seems to be partly fuelled by self-loathing (see the confession about his addiction), but he’s right about the tendency of some blogging sub-cultures to function as echo chambers. My suspicion, though, is that this is more true of ‘political’ blogs. My own experience of blogs is completely different. I subscribe to the RSS feeds of many for a variety of reasons. Some are thoughtful and thought-provoking. Some are beautifully written. Some are just plain quirky. Some are a nice mix of news and personal info. Some give me up-to-date technical info I can’t easily get any other way. Some are by friends. Some provide terrific photography. And I write my Blog for myself and a few friends, mainly as a way of letting them know what’s on my mind. So I don’t experience the echo-chamber effect, though I recognise that it exists. For me, Blogs provide a flow of ideas and news that I couldn’t get any other way.