Friday, June 08, 2007

What Is This Thing Called Blog?

My partner in blogging has done two quite fine posts off of Joe Klein’s whine about those mean bloggers.

Here is my raw comment on the second of them

Blog comments are revelatory in a lot of ways but, as you note, they aren't a revelation of some aggregated average viewpoint. The way that we’ve become so trained by things like polls and (badly analyzed or conceived) sociological surveys into thinking in terms of some kind of mythical average that we apply that habit in places where it becomes entirely unrealistic. Klein is part of the media system that has replaced the reporting of facts with junk like opinion polling, he has a financial interest in continuing this kind of fraud. Here it suits his purposes, of discounting his most biting and accurate critics. In the old media that isn’t something he has to worry about, they’re all in on the con.

At first blog comment threads were confusing and at times depressing. It took so much sifting of the chaff to find anything worthwhile. But if you look on it as a vital diversity instead of confusion it stops being depressing, though often no less confusing. Freedom, the real thing, not that thing that Bush and his kept media talk about, is good. Freedom both depends on and produces diversity of ideas and opinions, it doesn’t exist without diversity. The old media doesn’t do diversity, the really old media, inexpensive print media, did but electronic media is all about selling their audience to advertisers, not about its content. They latch onto something that has worked somewhere else and try to reproduce it, struggling to keep ahead of the attention wave. And in the largely unregulated cable markets the more violent and sensational the more likely they are to attract the few percentage points available. That crucial market would probably be endangered by real information or thought. The only requirement is that it not endanger profits or the interests of the owners.

Before a sociologist gets peeved at me, there are some good sociologists, just as there are some good cognitive scientists who don't make absurdly broad claims about their research findings. The media can be counted on to do that to their work. The best ones try to correct the distorions. You've heard me on the ones who do their own inflating and distorting so I'm not opening that can of worms today.
olvlzl, no ism, no ist | Homepage | 06.08.07 - 6:28 am

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