Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Goodbye, Blog

If you missed Alan Jacob's provocative article in Books & Culture on blogging, here are some excerpts:

"All in all, a blog is no place for the misanthropically inclined. Charlie Brown used to say, 'I love mankind; it's people I can't stand,' and I have discovered that in the blogosphere, people—in Mr. Brown's subtle sense of the word—are pretty much inescapable. Many's the time I have found myself hunched over my keyboard, my hands frozen above it, trying to decide which of two replies to make: the one assuming that my interlocutor is morally compromised, or the one assuming that he is invincibly ignorant. In such circumstances it's always best just to get up and walk away, not darkening counsel by words without knowledge, or without charity anyway."

"Chalk this up, if you will, to deficiencies in my Christian character. But even for those more saintly than myself— and there are a few—the blogosphere inevitably accelerates the pace of debate to the timetable of daily journalism."

"In terms of how they treat substantive ideas, blogs are not very different from newspapers: they present an idea and then move on, as quickly as possible, to the next idea. Perhaps there can be, later on, some brief acknowledgment that that idea wasn't treated fully and adequately—but, as the newsreel in Citizen Kane reminds us, Time is On The March, and bloggers are under enormous pressure to march along with it."

"The very notion of a blog (originally a 'web log') is that of a diary, a periodic account of what's happening in someone's life or someone's mind, which is why one of the most delightful sites to emerge from this new technology is the one that posts, in classic blog format—even with comments, though they are called 'annotations'—the diary of that great observer of 17th-century social life, Samuel Pepys ( No one seems to be willing to chew over even a very substantive blog post for very long: instead, we want new ones. Otherwise our rss readers won't have anything to tell us, will they?"

"Blogs remain great for news: political, technological, artistic, whatever. And they provide a very rich environment in which news (or rather 'news') can be tested and evaluated and revised, as we have seen repeatedly, from cnn's firing of Eason Jordan to the discrediting of Dan Rather's story on President Bush's National Guard service. But as vehicles for the development of ideas they are woefully deficient and will necessarily remain so unless they develop an architecture that is less bound by the demands of urgency—or unless more smart people refuse the dominant architecture."

"There is no privacy: all conversations are utterly public. The arrogant, the ignorant, and the bullheaded constantly threaten to drown out the saintly, and for that matter the merely knowledgeable, or at least overwhelm them with sheer numbers. And the architecture of the blog, with its constant emphasis on novelty, militates against leisurely conversations. It is no insult to the recent, but already cherished, institution of the blogosphere to say that blogs cannot do everything well. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought."

Read the entire article here (it's worth signing up for!).

No comments: