August 09, 2004

The Meaning Of Blogging Argument

Let me try to approach the recent blogging argument from another direction. The use of "blogging" to mean all of online diary/chat/newsletter/journalism fuels the following sequence:

Bubble-Blower: "Blogs are the revolution of Effulgent Pundocracy. It's A New Era. All the jackals of the press will be replaced by a spontaneous uprising of citizens bloggers who form Smart Snobs."

Journalist: "You're all a bunch of navel-gazing diary-writers, blithering about what you ate for lunch, and what your cat did."

Columnist: "I'm not a journalist. I don't aspire to be a journalist. I'm writing my freelance feature material, so it's a strawdog argument to accuse me of trying to replace a journalist".

Diarist: "But I'm happy keeping my online diary about what I ate for lunch and what my cat did, even if nobody reads me. What's wrong with that?"

[No specific people are intended here, but these are archetypical patterns, so resemblances could be imagined.]

Viewed this way, when the extravagant bubble-blowing claims get debunked, the critical reaction sweeps up all manner of other basically unrelated issues via linguistic confusion over the purpose of the writing. But that linguistic confusion is also appealing to many blog-writers, because those bubble-blowing claims are flattering and attractive (it's quite fun to think of oneself as being part of the revolutionary vanguard, from the comfort of one's home and keyboard). And in certain circles it would be just plain dull to say "I'm a freelance writer", as opposed to "I'm a blogger".

But crucially, the issue is not whether a freelance writer enjoys writing. Almost all do, because they sure aren't in it for the money (obviously, if they didn't enjoy writing, they'd stop and/or get another job). Rather, there is nothing particularly new or innovative in whether freelance writers get any readers. The writers are not wrong either to not want readers (diarists) or to want readers (everybody else). But the readers are going to be present in roughly the same proportions as always, with the recommendations of gatekeepers playing a big role in the making or breaking of a popular writer.

So freelance writing isn't wrong. But neither is freelance writing special.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on August 09, 2004 09:32 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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