Blog almighty! Your take on the techno-utopians' triumphalism

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Letters Re: Back in the Bloghouse

Mr. Orlowski -

I liked your article on blogging - in the best of cases they tend to be op-ed pages and nested commentaries, not new news dug up by the writers. That doesn't make them bad, it just means they aren't journalism. I find that I visit Yahoo news even more often now that I've become addicted to warblogs. The cloud of opinions makes me look for some shining facts.

But the warblogs are a lot like my recollections of sitting with friends in the common room in college and reading the LA Times. We would point out interesting articles to each other and comment upon them. The bIogs and email allow that sort of interaction to go on that is a little more diffuse than just a one-to-one conversation. I know that others get that some sort of thing from chat rooms (or pubs and park benches) - but I didn't ever get into the chat room thing. Too high a density of flamers.

For me at least, the blogs have the advantage of being edited/run by an individual and you can quickly get a sense of whether this is a person whose perspective is worth returning to sample. You get the advantage of an energetic person searching out things that might be of interest to you. A wetware version of a software agent.

Anyway, I liked your perspective.

Mike Pearson

Hi Andrew,

Enjoyed reading your Register comments on blogs today. I like blogs, but I see them as simple tools allowing for self-expression. I get to say things at my blog that would be inappropriate or misunderstood at my non-profit's
website. It occasionally brings me an e-mail and, so far, those have been interesting. What aggravates me about many in the blog crowd is what has aggravated me about so much on
the Net over the past few years: this tendency to call everything "revolutionary".

Good grief. Blogs have their little role to play on the greater Internet and we should be happy they're available to us, but let's keep it all in proportion. I think critiques, such as yours, are very useful. Thanks for your contribution!

Bob Adams

Your first two lines are clueless: "Blogs are almost as old as the web... In recent weeks - three years into the blogging phenomenon..."

The web is more than ten years old.

The rest of the article reads like typical blog content: meandering and self-centered.


Subject: El Reg Big Media?
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2002 13:55:27 +0100

You write, in

Now as you might expect, no one wishes Big Media to fall as much as us.

But aren't you now part of Big Media yourself? And isn't your heated attack on the Cluetrain Manifesto and the bloggers, more or less in defense of your position in Big Media, a proof of that?

Let's face it, The Register is not exactly an underground rag anymore, it's as mainstream as tecno/IT publications can get.

Gunnar Hellisen (innocent bystander)

Oh Gunnar, you Norwegian troll, you. Of course we're big media - just add up the value of our movie studios, affiliate radio stations, record labels, and feel the power of the Vulture. Move over, Disney.

With its King James-compliant English, this next one had us completely baffled. We couldn't understand a word of it, apart from the last line, but reprint it in full for you enjoyment.

Subject: Back in the BlogHouse: Now I'm *really* pissed!


I think that you have missed the point, somewhat, of the recent spat between Chris Locke (as the self appointed representative of all that blogs) and John C Dvorak (as the self appointed representative of all that journalises.)

Interesting first, to consider these words, for a blog *is* a journal, albeit a public one and not usually for any fee.

As I recently commented on the Gonzo Marketing - Engaged blog (, a blog specifically dedicated by its instigator to the discussion of Chris' later work "Gonzo Marketing", the net is the threat.

It is difficult for an observer/participant to not conclude that some element of the hostility of Dvorak for blogging as a phenomena in its own right (as opposed to the content of many blogs, which is admittedly puerile, self referential and ultimately irrelevant) has its source in whatever competitive threat such things might be perceived to represent by those who make their living from the more usual (historically) sort.

As much as blogs, a similarly high proportion of professional journalism is self referential, self serving, puerile, and simply wrong, wrong-headed, and contemptible.

Blogs do indeed, lower the average cost of journalising. and therefore, to the extent that they fulfill some innate (and apparently universal) desire to read the contents of other peoples journals, they represent a competitive threat to professional journalists.

Secondarily, I was struck by the plethora of assumptions underlying your assertions regarding the valuable qualities of journalism as you (attempt to) practice it; to wit, that "new stuff" or "news" is the primary valuable quality. As a well-read Christian who acknowledges the truth in the statement "there is nothing new under the sun" I won't shock you by contrarily asserting that there is great merit in a great many things that are neither new nor news, and that ideas are at least every bit as powerful as current events and news of them will ever be.

The age of these ideas is simply irrelevant to their world-shaping power, and I cannot help but think that in another context a man who makes his living in an occupation exemplified by the idea that "the pen is mightier than the sword" might be inclined to be more agreeable to this particular idea as I have stated it!

I say, parenthetically, that you "attempt to" practice your self styled journalism as the presentation of new stuff simply because, contrariwise, those of us who blog knew about the ongoing contretemps between Locke and Dvorak long before you or both of your readers ever did.

Which brings me to another point: the self styled representation of which Locke is assumed in your missive to be the arch-duke of blogdom is precisely mirrored by Dvoraks self referential journalism and self appointed representation thereof. To say nothing of your own pretensions to championing "real" journalism by defending Dvoraks conflicted attack on blogging, which is similarly compromised.

Which "authority" was it (I note your reliance on this concept, an idea as old as sin and just as pernicious, in self-contradiction of your own stated ideals, and to go with your self referential lies* and your self appointed status) that made *you* the definer of what is real journalism and again the defender of this faith against the heretic barbarian blogging hordes?

It was your self, wasn't it?

*Yes, I followed the link but found only the original article. If the blog you promised exists it is concealed beyond the art of this mere mortal. There is certainly no Editors Blog link on the Home Page nor on the article itself, nor any obvious (or even subtle) clues as to where it might lie.

With all these "self's" one could almost believe that every act of journalism, whether amateur or professional, is innately a selfish act, an act of self-aggrandisement, now practiced with the assistance of the net, on a global scale.

The difference, it seems to me, is that bloggers explicitly recognise this, accept it, in some cases celebrate it, and often enough, hope that it doesn't get in the way of some either useful, or entertaining, or merely diverting, or sometimes all three, dialogue.

We understand that real professionals prefer unidirectional broadcasting to quiet civil conversation, oh yes indeedy do we do, just as we recognise the implicit threat in the recipients of this manifestly ill-mannered shouting having a working conduit - like, oh, say, blogging - with which to communicate to your employers exactly what we think of your efforts and precisely what value we'd place on them were they subjected to contest in the open market of for ideas, news, observation, commentary, etc; in short, the sum of what may be called journalism.

Hey! it's not working guys, we'd better all SHOUT LOUDER!!!

Good Luck with your career, Andrew.

In deepest and most sincere and utter contempt,

Denver Fletcher
New Zealand.

Pleasure, Denver. Can anyone translate from medieval English into something more contemporary? ®


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