Sunday, May 08, 2005

Meta-Blogging 1.

Since I can't afford any of the art on Edward's blog, I think I start collecting something free: links to posts about the medium of blogging. Bloggers being so self-referential, there's a serious back-log of linkage to be done, and more is produced every day. No promises, then, to thoroughness--or to intelligent commentary.

That said, I'm starting my collection with:

Bitch, PhD's passionate defense of the blogroll:
Blogrolls, by their very nature, are not inflexible or immutable. And I've gotten comments from people saying that they've found new stuff from my blogroll. I've seen comments on other sites saying that my blogroll is a good resource for personal-type academic blogs; and for that reason, despite the length and how long the damn thing takes to load, I leave it up there, and I try to add every new, personal, small academic blog I come across. Because yes, for regular readers, y'all probably use the links in the main posts more than you do the blogroll; but for new readers and some of the regulars, I'm sure the blogroll does occasionally serve as a resource.

Les Blogs's slide show on "What Blogs Are vs. What They Are Not." The slide show puts its definition of what a blog is in the context of current policy arguments over free speech vs. restrictions on broadcasting content. From one frame:
Blogs inform.
They don't "deliver information."
-The difference is critical.
-"Information" is a commodity. Content.

A couple of posts from Billmon, whose bright implosion could serve as a cautionary tale (and inspiration!) for all bloggers.
Explaining why he closed the bar, why his tentative venture back was so impersonal, what blogging meant to him:

But if the truth does not set any one free, there’s not much point raging against the machine – not unless you enjoy being enraged all the time. On balance, there didn’t seem much point in keeping Whiskey Bar open, given that writing is hard, time-consuming work, and nobody was paying me to blog. (Yes, many readers had given me money to help cover expenses, but after more than 1,500 posts in a year and a half of blogging, I figured most of them had already gotten their money’s worth, and then some.)

So I stopped – cold, at least for awhile. There were weeks last fall when I didn’t even want to look at a blog, much less post on one, not even to say goodbye. And I apologize to all the barflies for that. But it felt like it had become one of those destructive relationships [where] all you want to do once it’s over is delete the other person from your life – entirely, you know, to the point of cutting them out of old photos.

Acknowledging the discussion space (one of at least three that popped up after his closing of the bar) for his posts, and addressing what he didn't in the earlier post, namely that the commenting crowd had gotten out of control:
I still have nightmares about unplugging from the blogosphere matrix for a day last summer and coming back to find 400 or so outraged comments tearing me a new lower opening in my gastrointestinal track for daring to criticize Michael Moore. That kind of feedback I don't need. (Or even if I do need it, I don't want it.)

And a placeholder, for more specific links to come: Crooked Timber's archive of posts in the blogging category. Some are more a propos than others.
For example, this post by Henry takes up a discussion of great interest to academic bloggers: how does your blogging interact with your professional life in ideas?
I suspect that over the longer term blogging will become increasingly attractive to scholars who want to connect with that wider audience, but who don’t want to give up their scholarship. You can become a low-rent public intellectual, without having to give up your day job. I don’t know if there are any people who’ve been lured away from academics by blogging, but I do see quite a number of academics who use blogging as a means of blowing off steam, and of writing about things that they couldn’t otherwise write about. Not substitute, complement.
And then there's this fascinating post, again by Henry, performing an economic analysis of link-value and filtration-systems and pointing out how incentives to gaming the blogosphere's technology of promoting content could undermine the society's values:
Both linkfarms and flogrolls would create a sort of Gresham’s Law effect, driving out (or at least greatly weakening the informational value of) links, and thus hampering the efficiency of the blogosphere as an aggregator of interesting opinions.
And, again by Henry (perhaps the Crooked Timberite assigned to the duty?), a post on the curious logic that allows bloggers to complain about the "MSM" while abdicating all responsibility themselves:
If you think that blogs should replace the mainstream media, then you should be prepared yourself to live up to some minimal standards of scrupulosity, intellectual honesty, and willingness to deal fairly with facts that are uncomfortable for your own ideological position. You should be prepared to live up yourself to the standards that you demand of others. Exercising the “shucks, I’m just a little old blogger” get-out clause is rank hypocrisy when you want the blogosphere to devour the New York Times whole.
So much self-referential material to work through! I haven't even begun to touch the feminist blogger debate, the awards debate, the sometimes rewarding anniversary notices, or the anthropologizing articles in print journalism.


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