Friday, June 11, 2010

A Sketch of a Post on Blogging

I have had a desire which has not been able to rise to an ambition to write a few longer and more thoughtful posts than I've been able to for the past month or so. That desire has not risen to an ambition for a number of reasons that have been touched on lately in posts written by others who are scanning different parts of the internet than I am. So here are some thoughts that might, perhaps, stoke that ambition.

Zenpundit notes that Bernard Finel is rethinking his blogging. It seems to me that many of us are these days and that there are many reasons for that. Blogging is a lot of work, and a blogger must decide on what will reward that work. The blogosphere has changed greatly since some of us started, and some of the fun has gone out of it, as is always the case in a maturing enterprise. Part of that change is that the big guys, aka MSM, have landed in the middle, splashing stuff all over and trying to co-opt individual bloggers, confuse the consumer with something they call blogging but usually isn't, and simply stealing material, all the time vilifying those partisan and probably evil computer scriveners.

Once upon a time, the blogosphere was a sort of talent night, a talent 24/7, with entertainment for all. Much of that is still there, but some of the talent has gone pro; Kevin Drum, Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias and others have joined the MSM or think tanks and link only to each other. Some days there is almost a perfect linking circle of Drum quoting Klein quoting Yglesias quoting Drum. Drum got linked from The Economist blog the other day, moving up one more notch. Stratification.

The MSM, meanwhile, still doesn't understand the idea of hyperlinks but provides something they call blogs at their sites. Some of these are actually blogs, like Ezra Klein's at the WaPo. Some are more like newspaper columns with more depth or specialization, like Olivia Judson's at the NYT. Some are sui generis, like the Gail and David show at the NYT. Others are clearly from reporters who have been told that they will produce a blog, probably not much more instruction provided.

And then there's the problem of the MSM simply stealing bloggers' material (or those somewhere below them on the food chain) and not crediting it. I've seen this pretty unambiguously many times over the almost six years I've been blogging. And then there are situations where it's not quite clear that material has been cribbed, but someone in the MSM says something that looks an awful lot like something I read days before in a blog. As a blogger friend said, "I think they call it research." Or they don't take it seriously enough. Today someone on The Oil Drum asked if the MSM was reading their threads, which have much more good information than anything I've seen on the BP Blowout in the MSM. Of course, it's mixed, and there are some just plain dumb comments, but hey! that's what the reporters get the big bucks to filter, right?

The last few weeks have been insanely busy for me, so this isn't a coherent argument on the state of the blogosphere. After Saturday, it appears that my calendar clears a bit, but we all know how deceptive that can be, that light at the end of the tunnel. I'd like to think that more thoughtful days are ahead.


Anonymous said...

Actually, Cheryl, I think you were quite coherent and provided a good summary of the state of blogging today.

I would add that reading the "big time" blogs is increasingly a pointless and frustrating exercise. There's no conversation, which is what I enjoy most. The comment sections contain too many trolls and it's very rare when one of those bloggers are willing to respond to those few that are reasonable. Except for style and length, how are these "establishment" bloggers any different from opinion columnists?

troutsky said...

I enjoy the style and content of this blog and read it everyday I can.The links take me almost anywhere else I need to go.

Cheryl Rofer said...

Thanks, guys. I guess what I felt was incoherence was merely more stuff that I had no time to work up in written form.

More to come, maybe...

mbc said...

Despite MSM doing its best to grab the blogging market share any way it can, it is not capitalizing on it monetarily. It receives over 80 percent of its revenue from print, which continues to decline. Creating an exclusive blogging class probably does not offer a profitable approach to reinventing any aspect of the MSM. There are interesting times ahead in the world of media.