Friday, July 28, 2006

why won't you stop hitting yourself?

The combination of a Star Trek marathon and hours of blogosphere scanning have left me muttering in the manner of Spock:"Fascinating" The metatextual nature of blogs talking about blogs keeps it eating the long tail. Oh for the peaceable conflicts of yore, like the war against 'blogofascism'. "Linking isn't thinking!" says leader of the Resistance, Lee Siegel in The New Republic in another polemic pre-emptive strike. Although the witty title, "Il.duce.blogspot.com", would probably need a hyphen in real life. First he argues that no one is persuaded from an opposing viewpoint by thinking you are absolutely right. Then he throws logic out the window by arguing that the blogosphere is the cause and not a symptom of political polarization and therefore, the inability to stop Gulf War 2: IED Bugaloo:
No wonder, several years after the blogosphere allegedly became a people powerhouse, the country is mired even deeper in Iraq and successfully distracted by one false public alarm after another.
Minds like Ezra Klein were bloggled by this line of reasoning: if only the anti-war movement would be more effective and less filled with cuss words, we could have stopped them all before they killed again. So the civil rights movement was responsible for perpetuating segregation? Lee, its about time you started reading some back issues before you print again. At least provide one example from someone with a high traffic site, and no, it can't be anything against Joe Lieberman or any other Republican on a partisan diary website like Kos. It is great how you give the right a total pass on any racism with a 'of course they do that' argument. It makes as much sense as arguing that journalists and editors listen to bloggers because they were cowering in the boradrooms from hate emails and scared of their awesome social power. This attitude on their part was:
Because, throughout their lives, their elite social reflexes had prompted them to avoid friction or antagonism at all costs.
Then the argument against anonymity is brought back amid 'why doesn't anyone take me seriously?' whining and topped off with a substantive critique against blogs linked to the presupposed weakness of the editors:
all the compulsive linking--to a degree, linking is the new logrolling--is a way never to say anything provocative without nervously assuring the reader that someone else said it first
Sure, Matt Yglesias in The American Prospect says in response, websites that function as link aggregators like Eschaton and Instapundit aren't the same as writing magazine essays, but they are complementary to the span of articles being produced at any one moment. If the NYT landed on your doorstop as a stack of random articles it would be fairly useless.

TAPPED's Garance Franke-Ruta makes a brilliant analogy from Matt's defense that linking and excerpting are more like editing. The common reader was an Elizabethan form from the early days of the printing press when books were rare and extremely expensive. The commonplace was a blank book to which a single or multiple authors would hand-copy pages stanzas or quotations of interest. A typical book may incorporate medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, and legal formulas. These compilations persisted into the Industrial Age, surviving in a more edited form as the anthology. As they passed from hand-to-hand, they would gather a running commentary in the margins. Franke-Ruta notes that similar strategies in the reading of these texts and blogs: context within commentary, parallelism of multiple sources, and reasoning by analogy.

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