Blah blah BLAH blah BLOGS! BLOGS!
May 13, 2004 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Yackity yackity, choo CHOO!, Yackity yackity.....BLOGS! Self proclaimed Blogoholic George Packer, at Mother Jones, shits on blogs everywhere, joins bemused chorus - FOX, journalism grad students, and so on - blathering on blogs. What are they? What do they mean? Quoth Packer : "Blog prose is written in headline form to imitate informal speech, with short emphatic sentences and frequent use of boldface and italics. The entries, sometimes updated hourly, are little spasms of assertion, usually too brief......All of this meta-comment by very bright young men who never leave their rooms is the latest, somewhat debased, manifestation of the old art of political pamphleteering.....if blogs are "a new way of doing politics," there is also something peculiarly stale and tired about them — not the form, but the content......So far this year, bloggers have been remarkably unadept at predicting events.... Above all, they didn't grasp the intensity of feeling among Democratic primary voters — the resentments still glowing hot from Florida 2000, the overwhelming interest in economic and domestic issues, the personal antipathy toward Bush, the resurgence of activism, the longing for a win. The blogosphere was often caught surprised by these passions and the electoral turns they caused." Packer even gets paid for this, plus starring appearances on snooty public radio talk shows! [ Kevin Drum makes an appearance ].....I can excrete lightly digested opinions with the best of them. Where do I apply ?
posted by troutfishing (24 comments total)
The members of Metafilter, a so-called "group" or "collaborative" blog are a highly homogenous and inbred group, stemming from a tiny founder population, which share in common high incomes, high literacy, mostly liberal attitudes, technological savvy, and a sharp disdain for Wal-Mart. Their notable features - including ubiquitous iPods, webbed feet, cleft palates, and a love of group orgies at secret urban hideaways strategically distributed around the globe - have earned them comparisons to the Manson Family, Black October, the Unification Church, the Masons, and the John Birch Society.

They are, however - excepting occasional feral throwbacks, believed to be mostly non-violent.
posted by troutfishing at 1:23 PM on May 13, 2004

"......if blogs are "a new way of doing politics," there is also something peculiarly stale and tired about them — not the form, but the content......."

The only thing tired is the way writers use this cliche to fill column inches.

The blogs I read most are those written by friends and family who now live far away. I have no doubt Mr. Packer will do his next article about how much he hates talking to old friends on the phone. It's very stale and tired indeed.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:41 PM on May 13, 2004

He's talking about specifically political blogs, which do mostly suck. I hate most of them, and don't get the point of consciously imitating mainstream journalism punditry.
posted by raysmj at 1:50 PM on May 13, 2004

... the thought that the republic is perched atop "Kicking Ass: Daily Dispatches From the DNC," let alone such pillars of salt as, frankly makes me nervous.

That dour sourpuss picture of Mother Jones at the top is so appropriate. Who reads Wonkette and thinks "I'm worried about the long term effects all this commingling of politics and, erhm, loose talk about 'ass-fucking' will have on the nation"?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:59 PM on May 13, 2004

Above all, they didn't grasp the intensity of feeling among Democratic primary voters — the resentments still glowing hot from Florida 2000, the overwhelming interest in economic and domestic issues, the personal antipathy toward Bush, the resurgence of activism, the longing for a win.

Uhh, what blogs did he read? The only people who failed to "grasp the intensity of feeling among Democratic primary voters" are the right-wing warblogger types. Everyone else and their mother knew how most of the Democratic base felt.

A lot of people also predicted that the Democratic base would be easily manipulated by the media into a John Kerry victory for positition of Democratic Presidential candidate after the media did an aboutface on Dean.

As with anything, there is both good and bad in the blogging world, more of the latter. Personally, I'm not nearly as disappointed in people who scour the internet for interesting, informative, and otherwise-unmentioned (in mainstream media) information about various political issues, even if their entries happen to be a little too short or are written from their rooms (??). Even if it only seeps moderately into the mainstream, it beats the old alternative, which was a public woefully ignorant of political issues.
posted by The God Complex at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2004

"He's talking about specifically political blogs"

Well, my point is the we all have blogs we like. And it's our connection to them and their context which makes us like them. I think the same goes for political blogs. In this medium you are suppose to cherry pick.

Just tuning in and expecting to be educated/entertained? That's old Europe.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:04 PM on May 13, 2004

raysmj - Is he ? That's kind of unclear to me. But even if he were just talking about political blogs......well, there's a lot more to that world than Josh Marshall, and some blogs either - 1) do real investigative journalism of their, 2) keep alive stories the mainstream media would rather ignore and, 3) synthesize existing material in ways which would rarely occur to mainstream journalists.

That's why the mainstream media has started trolling blogs for material or even new hires.

But the most important point, I think, is that - because of ever increasing mainstream media concentration - many enormously important stories either get buried or never get researched at all.

I think I may need to start a compendium of those stories originated or kept aloft through the work of bloggers. There are more of them than one might think.
posted by troutfishing at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2004

PinkStainlessTail - I agree, although I bet Mother Jones knew how to let her skirts down once in a while !

She just put on the sourpuss face for effect. It's really borrowed from George Packer.
posted by troutfishing at 2:11 PM on May 13, 2004

Oh, and - I meant no disrespect to Kevin Drum. He's OK by me.
posted by troutfishing at 2:13 PM on May 13, 2004

troutfishing: Actually, yeah, an article helping people cherry pick would be more worthwhile. It's no fun working your way through most of these, although occasionally you hit upon something unique. And most do imitate mainstream journalists, which is hardly revolutionary. (I think of Marshall as one of the better ones, by the way. But he shares a hyper-annoying tendency of many blogs to go on and on about polling. How much more mainstream can you get than to go on and on about polling?)

I actually think the way blogs are set up doesn't mesh well with thoughtful political commentary. It isn't a natural fit, maybe. See Marshall today on the expectation to have an opinion on everything. I'd rather see people comment maybe once a week than every other minute.
posted by raysmj at 2:21 PM on May 13, 2004

raysmj - But isn't that what a lot of blogs claim to do ? I agree that many political blogs suck.

But why not ? - they're usually written by amateurs and novices (like me, for example) - still, a number of talents shine through.

Isn't that how it should be, 99% junk and 1% gold ?

Also, I think that the "Jonah" rule applies here ("Thou art lukewarm, and because thou art lukewarm, I will spew thee out of my mouth !") - short paragraphs chock full of carefully picked links ( a la Metafilter, or Cursor ) is a good format, and the obvious contrasting format - in depth commentary w/fewer links all dedicated to the subject at hand ( such as Orcinus ) works well too. Josh Marshall is often lukewarm., I find.
posted by troutfishing at 2:44 PM on May 13, 2004

I thought it was 90 percent of everything that's crap, not 99! In any case, I do think many just want to imitate mainstream journalism (and in fact get most of their info from it), but the revolutionary talk comes from some pretty loud corners. It's really annoying to me, in a way similar to the way trustafarians get to jonmc.
posted by raysmj at 3:02 PM on May 13, 2004

Worse than wanting to imitate mainstream journalism, too many political blogs try to imitate that which is even worse: mainstream editorialism, mainstream talk-back-radio...hell, I swear half of them simply find weblogs a more convenient method of getting things off their chest than writing a letter to the editor. And the "investigative journalism" seems to mostly take the form of semantic nit-picking.

But hey, more power to them, I don't have to read that drivel when there's such much quality out there as well.
posted by Jimbob at 3:32 PM on May 13, 2004

raysmj - well, some say 90%, but I'm being conservative. Anyway - where can I find this revolutionary talk ? (I'm suspicious I'd just call it the "babbling of idiots", but I'm curious)

Jimbob - exactly. There's more quality than one could consume in several lifetimes. Free! (for now, anyway) .
posted by troutfishing at 4:06 PM on May 13, 2004

the thought that the republic is perched atop ... pillars of salt as, frankly makes me nervous

Well, god-damn, we can't have a democracy resting on its citizens! Oh, wait...
posted by kindall at 4:45 PM on May 13, 2004

and inbred group

amberglow's penchant for fisting does not make us inbred.

amber! stop that!
posted by quonsar at 4:57 PM on May 13, 2004

i've been doing that for a week now--you only just noticed? ; >
posted by amberglow at 5:30 PM on May 13, 2004

oh, my current favorite political blog. (and that guy is woefully wrong on bloggers being unadept.)
posted by amberglow at 5:36 PM on May 13, 2004

and that guy is woefully wrong on bloggers being unadept.

I originally read this as unkempt. Eyes going buggy.
posted by sharpener at 8:46 PM on May 13, 2004

sharpener - no no. we bloggers all have neat blue shirts at 3 A.M.
posted by troutfishing at 9:05 PM on May 13, 2004

as a matter of fact, i'm ironing as i type this ; >

isn't he great, skallas? His tone is perfect (and hysterical)...i', going to give too.
posted by amberglow at 9:10 PM on May 13, 2004

If 90% of everything is crap, then on;y 90% of crap is crap (and 10% isn't crap), and only 90% of that 90% is crap.

Repeat as necessary and we reach the unavoidable conclusion that nothing is crap! Hooray! Flowers and balloons for everyone!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:44 AM on May 14, 2004

(Actually, isn't that a logarithmic curve that never reaches zero, but ensures that there will always be an infintesimal percentage of crap?)

Boy, isn't he clever? A reporter at Mother Jones decides to stir up a little controversy and improve their hit rates by writing an article which basically says that blogs are boring, stale, and useless as a political barometer, but goes on to assure us that intrepid reporters such as himself have their fingers on the very pulse of politics?

Self-serving, assumptive prat.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:57 PM on May 16, 2004

FormlessOne - it was a troll, clearly, and self serving as all hell.
posted by troutfishing at 8:35 PM on May 16, 2004

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