Let Slip the Blogs of War
January 17, 2002 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Let Slip the Blogs of War For a while I didn't think I was gonna make it, but around 1800 hours I laid down a barrage of trenchant observations and we finally broke through...star studded article by tim cavanaugh.
posted by th3ph17 (22 comments total)
yeah, i know. the rare occasions i link tend to be somehow related to Suck. I miss it. A lot of mefi locals mentioned in this article that takes some of the wind out of the sails of warbloggers around the world.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:50 PM on January 17, 2002

What a hoot!!!
posted by y2karl at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2002

*deep, long, contented sigh*

Thank you, THX1138.
posted by solistrato at 4:54 PM on January 17, 2002

Beautiful. Thanks th3ph17.
posted by nikzhowz at 4:59 PM on January 17, 2002

Ah, fame at last! (He linked me twice!)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:45 PM on January 17, 2002

By the way, I don't know about anyone else but I've never thought of my site as a "news source". What I've always tried to provide is commentary, which is why I never link to anything unless I have something to say about it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:00 PM on January 17, 2002

that article was linktastic
posted by roboto at 6:04 PM on January 17, 2002

Not getting your blog dissed in that article equates to being an important Democrat who hasn't received your anthrax letter yet.
posted by Mack Twain at 7:11 PM on January 17, 2002

You can read another view on the same topic here.

I don't like warblogs particularly, and only read them occasionally. And the criticism is largely dead on (though some of it is by no means particular to warblogs -- blogs in general, for instance, are self-congratulatory (or at least self-obsessive) and incestuous to the point of becoming tedious.) But tearing down a group of earnest thinkers and writers who happen to share a few failings isn't impressive either. There are some intelligent and talented warbloggers in that group, and this piece's pithiness hardly redeems it -- aside from some well-researched links, it offers absolutely no perspective on the work these people have done, or its value (such as it is).
posted by mattpfeff at 9:24 PM on January 17, 2002

Matt, you're taking it too seriously. This wasn't intended to be a serious review; it was intended to be humor. You have to understand that the guy who wrote it used to be one of the staffers at Suck.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:22 PM on January 17, 2002

Ahh.... I saw Cavanaugh's Suck editing cred, but wasn't quite prepared for OJR to Suck for a day (as it were), I guess.

(I think I was thrown by this passage: Perhaps the most encouraging is Bjørn Stærk's Bearstrong.net. Stærk appears to be a young Norwegian, and his command of the English idiom alone is impressive; but he's also staked out a refreshing spot as a European with generally pro-American views, and puts forth some cogent comments.

For who would expect satire to be so forthright? Is there a deeper humor hidden in Cavanaugh's being at turns sincere and at others caustic? Or did I misread that praise as sincere, when it had tongue firmly planted in cheek? (Or is Bearstrong in fact a woeful cacophony of miserable English and wreckless reasoning?))

I'm confused.... But I think you are right, SDB, I read the piece too fast, and mistook it. Ah, how cruelly the editors at OJR do toy with the distracted and the tired, and so wantonly abandon their accustomed style for sake of chummy inside jokes!

posted by mattpfeff at 11:22 PM on January 17, 2002

I'm amused at the criticisms, because they resemble those leveled at weblogs qua weblogs in the early days (speaking as one who was there), like matt's "self-congratulatory, obsessive, and incestuous" smackdown above. But I don't mind that: in fact (speaking again as one who was there) the warblog community itself resembles the early days of weblogging. There are a few people who've been doing it longer (like myself), but some of the stars are brand new, and in fact most of the warblog crowd are new to weblogging in general. They've never done anything else but foreign policy and "takedowns" and yes, they're excited by each other's attentions and even more so each other's ideas. There's a lot of exuberant this is all new energy that definitely takes me back.

This also means that some of the warbloggers have no sense of history, such as Joanne Jacobs's thinking "nobody was doing weblogs" other than Mickey Kaus when she started in January of 2001 (!). This group hadn't been exposed to the mainstream blog world, and almost none of them know of or frequent Metafilter, so they've been uncontaminated, if you will, by its zeitgeist-enforcement.

Anyway, I've never gotten an anthrax letter, and in 2.5 years of semi-prominent blogging, I've never been in one of those media weblog-wrapups, either.
posted by dhartung at 12:48 AM on January 18, 2002

Sheesh. Not all humor has to be nasty. Heck; I was one of the targets of the piece and I didn't take it seriously.

It's not intended to be mocking, just to be amusing.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 7:21 AM on January 18, 2002

Wonderful article--wit without mockery! And all the links anyone could want.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:40 AM on January 18, 2002

matt's "self-congratulatory, obsessive, and incestuous" smackdown above

My comment was, I think, ill-advised (and unintended as a smackdown) -- I hardly meant to make so strong a remark as it sounds, but to observe a sort of behavior that happens too often. Ah, so. 'Tis my just reward, for writing when too tired, and, perhaps, even, falling too in love with my own words....

(I thought the piece was very funny, btw, even when I mistook it for criticism. ... This, for instance: If there's one thing the war bloggers hate more than the newspapers from which they cop all their stories, it's the OpEd writers who work for those papers. Heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh. ... Heh.)
posted by mattpfeff at 8:05 AM on January 18, 2002

WARBLOGTRAIN: the New Millenium version of the O'Jays LOVE TRAIN... People all over the world (everybody) Join hands (join) Start a warblog, warblog. People all over the world (all the world, now) Join hands (warblog) Start a warblog (warblog), warblog. The next site that we make will be soon;Tell all the folks in Russia, and China, too. Don't you know that it's time to get on board, And let this blogtrain keep on blogging, blogging on through Well, well. People all over the world (you don't need no money) Join hands (come on) Start a warblog, warblog (don't need no spellcheck, come on) People all over the world (Join in, ride this blogtrain) Join in (Ride this blogtrain, y'all) Start a warblog (Come on, blogtrain), warblog. All of you brothers over in Chicago Tell all the folks in Seattle, and Lisbon, too Please don't miss this blogtrain on the internet 'Cause if you miss it, I feel sorry, sorry for you Well People all over the world (Sisters and brothers) Join hands (join, come on) Start a warblog (ride this blogtrain, y'all), warblog (Come on) People all over the world (Don't need no popups) Join hands (come on, ride) Start a warblog, warblog. Ride, let it ride Let it ride Let it ride People, ain't no war People all over the world (on this blogtrain) Join in (ride the blogtrain) Start a warblog, warblog (ride the blogtrain, y'all) People all over the world (come on) Join hands (you can link&drink, yeah) Start a warblog, warblog(makin' love) People all over the world ('round the world, y'all) Join hands (come on) Start a warblog, warblog
posted by Mack Twain at 1:13 PM on January 18, 2002

Apparently, there's more behind the satire than Cavanaugh being a wiseass.
posted by ed at 3:21 PM on January 18, 2002

yeah ed...just saw that as well. i read the article as being a bit less Mean...but i'm often wrong on these things. I hope that this was intended more as amusing than attacking, since many of the sites he linked to in the article are daily stops for me...especially ken layne and matt welch. Thought they were all comrades-in-arms.

Will we ever find out? probably not. i'm bummed out.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:56 PM on January 18, 2002

Ed: that makes sense. I had thought that the OJR was a relatively high profile site, but in fact I've been getting almost no refers from there today.

So maybe this was a blatant attempt at getting attention? Interesting.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:06 PM on January 18, 2002


Thanks to Ken Layne, though, for this quote:

... my Web site is nothing more than an informal collection of notes to my friends, never publicized, never meant for any other audience than those who know me.

This is at once the strength of a (war)blog, if you take it for what it is, and the weakness of a (war)blog if you read it for something it isn't. Because, much of what these friends and comrades write is really quite good for a free and open exchange of ideas between like minds, and the moments when they transcend that are moments to appreciate, not to define expectations by.
posted by mattpfeff at 7:43 PM on January 18, 2002

Well, when I first encountered the article, I viewed it as low-key satire. And I'm pretty sure that's what Cavanaugh meant it as (although whether this had anything to do with the Layne-Welch-Cavanaugh friendship is another matter, completely up to them).

Certainly, this article was link heavy, to a gratuitous pervasiveness where the links themselves were almost put there to sell hits. But I'm not sure we'll ever know if this was Cavanaugh's original intention or a dictum by the OJR editors for a warblog slam loaded with lots of URLs in an attempt to drum up bandwidth.

Ultimately, the motivation behind the article lies with its editors. But it would make sense to me that the OJR, if it was trying to justify its existence to USC/Annenberg after plummeting this, that it would have a motivation along these lines. Layne has more thoughts from the inside about pulled OJR articles.

I'd certainly be interested to read a more lucid, less nefarious take on the warblog angle into their merits and dismerits that offers substantial rationale as its nexus. But the two "anti-warblog" articles we've seen so far are either loaded with generalizations or have entirely different motivations altogether.

Ultimately though, it's up to the blog enthusiast to make up his mind over daily reads.
posted by ed at 4:44 PM on January 19, 2002

ed, I second that. The Pravda one was a bit too much polemic, not enough analysis, and this one really was half a survey/humor piece. On the blogs themselves, there's been some good discussion of the economics of blogs, and their possible effects. (i.e., what is their relation to mainstream media? Will they become the future of punditry? Could they become profitable? That sort of thing.)
posted by Charmian at 9:09 PM on January 19, 2002

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