Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Ongoing Blog Debate

As to the ongoing argument about the actual worth of blogs and their influence, as I have been arguing with Kevin at Smallest Minority, there have been several decent arguments made today.

For background on this you may want to visit the comments sections of previous posts (Contradictory, Blog Infighting, and The Worth of Blogs) to find out exactly what our differences are. In a nutshell, I am not convinced that blogs have had or will have any lasting or measurable influence on the population at large. Kevin contends that blogs were integral to Bush winning the election and that they will continue to be a burr in the side of MSM.

Today, Jack Shafer has an article on the continuing self-gratification that bloggers are giving themselves. He apparently attended some forum at Harvard last weekend that included MSM types and the archetypal "rogue, independent" blogger that is out there digging for the truth on a daily basis. The forum included Jeff Jarvis who seems to have permanently thrown his dress over his head.

He starts with an obscure allegory to a video product that apparently was big with 3 people back in the 60's. As I never had flowers in my hair, I don't know what the hell he is talking about.

I hadn't witnessed such public expressions of high self-esteem since the
last time I attended a journalism awards ceremony.

His observations were somewhat denigrating, but passages like the above quote hit spot on. An alternative media ceases to be extraordinary if it parrots the elitist self-love that the MSM displays.

The whole article is worth reading, as Mr. Shafer takes a rather balanced approached to the whole thing.

Next up is Eric Alterman. This is sure to piss some people off because Alterman is...well...a dick. I read him everyday and find 90% of his commentary to be hideous and offensive. The man leads the "BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED" group.

At the same time, there is a reason I read him. He's a sarcastic prick and I enjoy that sort of commentary.

In any case, today he reports on a segment he had on MSNBC with Jeff Jarvis. In his analysis (and apparently on the appearance) he throws out the CIA, fake Iraqi blog thing. Admittedly, this is irritating. However I found the following mock discussion interesting outside of its slanted and distorting context:

Top CIA Guy: Ok, let’s go over the list.
Number Two Guy: Yessir.
CIA Guy: Torture?
Number Two Guy: Going just as planned, sir. We got
the little guys taking the fall, and we instructed Brad and Jen to break up
during the trials to keep the story off CNN.
Top CIA Guy: Good.
Death squads like the ones we created in El Salvador? Terrorist murders
like the ones we had so much fun with in Nicaragua?
Number Two Guy: On the
way, sir. That Mr. Negroponte is an expert on the stuff from way back and
the rumor mill even has Elliott Abrams coming back in. Happy days are here
Top CIA Guy: Well, get on that. Politicians purchased?
Two Guy: Well, we got our guy in the PM’s office and we’re handing out plenty of
bucks to get people to back our guy on election day. Lots of the same
Ilopango guys are happy for the chance to take out the old playbooks. If
necessary, some of the old Saigon coup guys are available for
Top CIA Guy: Okedoke. Have we taken care of the
opposition in places like Faluja?
Number Two Guy: Destroyed the village in
order to save it, sir.
Top CIA Guy: Ha, ha, ha, very funny. But you’re
right, we don’t have to worry about those votes. Got the journalists paid
Number Two Guy: You have to ask? Even those homos at the
Department of Education have picked up on that game.
Top CIA Guy: What about
them new-fangled journalists? What do you call them, buggers?
Two Guy: Bloggers, sir, bloggers. And frankly, I’m amazed at your audacity
at even imagining that we would ever compromise the beauty, the integrity, and
the power of this medium that is certain to sink the mainstream media dinosaurs
and replace them with the likes of Glenn Reynolds and those guys at
Powerline. I resign, effectively immediately, and not only that, I’m going
to tell Jeff Jarvis on you. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself
written about on Buzzmachine.
[Gets up in a huff and leaves the room]
CIA Guy: [Watches Number Two walk out and presses a red button on his telephone]
Have him killed.

Of course, this is in Alterman's typical, over the top style of accusing conservatives of waging an unfettered war against all that is decent and respectable in the world. Like I said, I'm not a fan. But I think he brings up an important point: Blogs don't make that much difference. In the Iraq war, most people I know don't know what a blog is, nevermind whether freedom minded Iraqis are blogging. This is not to crap on the efforts of the freedom-loving element of the Iraq population.

Of course, Alterman was arguing with Jarvis during this segment. His dress seemed to be over his head again, based on his posts on this. Jarvis is a "true believer" in the supposition that blogs are constantly changing the method in which consumers view news. Unfortunately, that's crap.

I have a ##KEYWORD## site/blog. It pretty much covers ##KEYWORD## related stuff.
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