Monday, November 05, 2007

Explaining misplaced disdain

Dizzy could think a bit harder than he is doing here perhaps.
The argument goes like this. The really popular blogs are not analytical enough, and tend to be echo chambers for media style gossip. Ergo they impoverish blogging.

The post on Westminster Wisdom was sparked by this post by Sunny on Pickled Politics. The post was titled "Challenging the elites, and the blogs" and made the same point about the current state of UK blogs and also goes on to the say that there is elitism in the NGOs, think tank etc towards blogs because of their impoverished debate level as already mentioned.

Isn't it wonderfuly amusing, and dare I say beautifuly ironic to see someone bemoaning blogs for being tabloid and requesting that debate be raised to higher purpose analysis away from the dumbed down masses, whilst simultaneously moaning about elitism outside the world of blogs?
OK. I'll try:

I would agree that "really popular blogs are not analytical enough, and tend to be echo chambers for media style gossip." Not blogs in general, but really popular blogs. In the case of political blogs, you have to do something to become really popular, it seems. You have to provide a hospitable place for trolls in your comments box and you have to write knockabout posts that simplify and personalise issues.

There are plenty of sites that don't chose to do this though. Dizzy will have seen one of these when he visited Westminster Wisdom - and there are plenty more to chose from if he could tear himself away from the fuckwits in Iain Dale's sidebar for a bit longer.

The next observation - that "there is elitism in the NGOs, think tank etc towards blogs because of their impoverished debate level as already mentioned" - is hardly a difficult one to understand. NGOs and think-tankists do turn away from the blogosphere rapidly because it takes a while to realise that there is a world beyond the more popular herd of independent minds that make up the popular blogs.

If NGOs and Think Tanks were more aware of the less popular sites - the ones that aren't that interested in attracting hordes of spEak You're bRaines types, then this would change.

As I said yesterday, the reasons that is is not massively rewarding to use blogs in an interesting, deliberative way may dissolve into thin air when the technology gets better at back-tracking and collaborative filtering. Then, maybe, the people who are actually paid to wonk may find time to ferret out the good stuff that we amateurs have been reading for ages.


Tim Worstall said...

For a certain value of good stuff ferreted out, of course.

Paulie said...

Fair point Tim. The Adam Smith Institute is prepared to look around in a way that others aren't.

I think that there is a view that there are a disproportionate number of libertarian blogs - something that would deter other Think Tanks from bothering with it.

My point is that the *noisy* blogs are libertarian / bloggertarian (the latter being a particularly autistic variant on right-wing libertarianism). But the 'long tail' of bloggers are less likely to fit into this description.

Jon Worth said...

A valid argument as it applies to the UK political blogosphere, but there are plenty of exceptions if you look into related fields. Take EU political blogs for example. Once you eliminate the ranting and raving of EU Referendum there are quite a number that bridge between academia and the blogosphere - have a look at this post. Plenty of those blogs are UK based.

Paulie said...

That's a really useful comment Jon.

I'm pretty sure that you wrote a shorter version of that before? Is that an extended version of a similar post that you wrote earlier?

Either way, thanks for that.

Oh, and Tim, btw, when I mentioned the 'autistic variant', that wasn't intended as a dig at you. I read your blog and disagree with it a good deal, but I'd never claim that you don't make the arguments properly or offer solutions that can be demonstrated in some way.

Tim Worstall said...

Aww, shucks, you'll have me blushing soon!

As to the preponderance of libertarians (and anti-Statists in general) it's a well used trope that they exist, ranting away on the blogs, because most of the mainstream doesn't represent such views.

There's plenty of right statism (your gonads belong to the State but your money's your own) and plenty of left Statism ( substitute gonads for money in the above and vice versa) in the range from The Telegraph to The Guardian....but no one arguing for the dual freedoms, social and economic.
We see the mirror in places like Lenin, Dave Spart and so on, much more lively than the media representation of such views.

Ashok said...

Off-topic: Do you read Will Wilkinson? His stuff is really good, if he'd shorten his posts (pot, kettle, I know) I'd be a more regular reader.