Beware of the Blog, It Creeps…

“Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries,” says Forbes reporter Daniel Lyons. “Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.” While the article does admit, in passing, that “attack blogs are but a sliver of the rapidly expanding blogosphere,” the overall tone is largely paranoiac and, unsurprisingly considering the source, always willing to take the corporation’s side against the bloggers. In this world, there’s pretty much no such thing as speaking truth to power; there’s only badmouthing The Man because, well, you’re a no-good agitator.

A typical jab: “If blogging is journalism, then some of its practitioners seem to have learned the trade from Jayson Blair.” It cracks me up that Lyons then cites Michelle Malkin as an example of such a blogger, apparently forgetting that she’s first and foremost a syndicated columnist.

The key to the story, of course, is something that’s been an open secret since the days when you had to go to Usenet for online commentary: There’s an awful lot of nutjobs running around loose on the Internet. Always have been, always will be. This isn’t about bloggers crushing corporations or other institutional power bases; this is strictly about nutjobs with nothing better to do with their time than harass the people they think are looking at them funny. If they didn’t have blogs, they’d go about it some other way.

28 October 2005 | theory |

Meanwhile, Civil Online Discourse Continues…

Over at if:Book, Bob Stein takes serious issue with Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good For You, a book which proposes that video games and television drama make us “smarter.” He asks:

“How can you define good and bad simply in terms of whether one’s brain is better at multi-tasking and problem-solving? I’ll grant that this shift in raw brain power might make us more effective worker bees for our techno-capitalist society, but it doesn’t mean that the substance of our lives or the social fabric is improved.”

The critique builds and builds, but then Johnson gets to reply. It’s an interesting debate—and it’s still going on, so do have a look.

28 October 2005 | uncategorized |

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