quicklink, US Politics

Georgy Watch.

Now look at this. Not only are more and more people coming to this site in order to find something about the Calfornian Gubernatorial candidate Georgy Russell, which I recommended recently, there is also a blog devoted monitoring her campaign – Georgy Watch. The author believes it’s pictures most people expect to find at his page, which might well be true. So just to let you know – there aren’t any. I don’t know what the motivation behind this blog is, or if it’s actually pro or con for that matter – but it seems the author knows your candidate in person.

media, quicklink, web 2.0

Mainstream Blogging.

Maureen Dowd reflects about the mainstreaming of blogging –

“Don’t get me started on the Blaster virus sabotaging Microsoft systems, or the cram of spam reminding us that the average American is an impotent, insecure, overweight, tired, depressed loser desperately seeking to refinance. The most telling sign that the Internet is no longer the cool American frontier? Blogs, which sprang up to sass the establishment, have been overrun by the establishment.” (from the NY Times)



in preparation of this blog’s move to a movable type installation and into autumn clothes, I am modifying the code a bit and have also tried soft-hyphenation with the “­Â­” entity in the last post. The justified paragraphs look better this way – on my Internet Explorer 6.

Netscape 7 and Opera 7.11 just ignore the soft-hyphenation, so using it doesn’t hurt. That covers roughly 86% of people reading this page. In Netscape 4.x the text looks like shot in a Chicago mob gang drive by, but only a handful of my readers are using 4.x. So what about the rest? Especially Mac users? Please tell me.

Iraq, media, web 2.0

Blogging Your Way To A Civil Society?

Papascott links to Jeff Jarvis, who believes that Salam Pax – the blogger who shared the sights and sounds of his life in Baghdad and is now writing a forthnightly column in the British Guardian – is an example of how sponsoring Iraqi blogging could create a true Iraqi Civil Society –

“What comes out of this: A hundred Salam Paxes. A thousand Salam Paxes. The intelligent, caring, involved future of Iraq will come online to share their experiences and opinions and hopes and fears and Iraq will be better for it; so will the world, for we will build bridges to Iraqis online. History has never had a better, cheaper, easier, faster means of publishing content and distributing it worldwide. Now is the time to take advantage of this for sake of democracy and freedom and nothing less than that.”

I am not too convinced that the outcome of setting up “blogspots” in Baghdad would necessarily be the creation of a happy modern all-Iraqi civil society, even assuming that enough people would care to learn how to use the technology. I suppose there is hardly anyone who would be able to tell how blogging would fit into institutionalised Iraqi patterns of societal communication.

Thinking of the almost violent way the pro-/anti-war debate evolved in the western blogosphere in the first few months this year, I would say that there is no guarantee that blogging does enhance the way any civil society works – just read my post about Rebecca Lucas below. In fact, remembering how Karl Deutsch has described long ago in “Nationalism and Social Communication” that increased communication does not per se translate into more understanding between the communicating parties, one might be tempted to think that blogging actually requires a significant amount of civil society and mutual understanding to start with in order to deal with all the Rachel Lucases around. Otherwise, it might just ignite a fire no one wanted to light.

I am not saying this would be the case in Iraq. But given the way a “modern/pseudo-socialist” authoritarian government has been superimposed on a semi-tribally-organised, ethnically and religiously diverse country I’d say that there is a certain chance for a negative development.

So while I think that the idea put forth by Mr Jarvis is clearly worth to be tested, those involved would have to be very attentive and careful not to become too hopeful about the possible positive effects of such a project.

almost a diary, Political Theory, USA, web 2.0

Stupid, stupid, stupid idiots!

Lillimarleen links to “pro-gun” tirade by Rachel Lucas called just like this entry. Rachel furiously tries to point out why previous cases of civil strife, ethnic persecution, or class warfare are valid arguments in favour of uninhibited gun ownership in general, and specifically in the USA –

“If you make self-defense illegal, or even problematic, you’re making life easier for criminals and tyrants.”

Well, if I were living in a Hobbesian state of nature I would probably have to subscribe to the strict version of that theory, too. But, luckily, I am not. Maybe she is – she lives in Texas, according to her webpage – that would explain her position.

In the real world however, it just doesn’t make much sense. But just like I am, Rachel and everybody else is entitled to tell the world about his or her opinions.

So when there’s nothing to argue, what am I doing here? Well, I am not really concerned with the substance of her rant, but rather with the style.

Unfortunately, Rachel (although she’s far from the worst) seemingly believes in the bizarre discourse theory a lot of bloggers, in my experience predominantly American right-wing bloggers, are spreading these days – that calling people who don’t share their opinions “idiots” as frequently as possible is making their points more convincing. Generally, they seem to follow the rule “the more aggressive, and insulting, the better.”

Rachel herself admits this practice on her FAQ page

Q: ‘How does Rachel expect to make her point by insulting people she disagrees with?’
A: Easy. I don’t expect to make my point to people who can’t see past the insults. Also, this is just a blog, not the New York Times op-ed page.”

Don’t get me wrong here, there are instances for the application of “idiot”. But the word’s inflationary use is a kind of verbal pollution, is simply annoying, and possibly preventing a good deal of the debate theoretically made possible by advances in communication technologies – who likes to talk to people who begin the discussion by saying “shut up, you idiot”? In Rachel’s words – why should they want to see past the insults?

I wonder if some phd student is already trying to capture the early changes personal publishing is making to the style of written opinion in general – can anyone imagine a NY Times op-ed headline that reads “Stupid, stupid, stupid idiots”? Probably not – for the time being. But who knows what the future, and the effects of personal publishing will have on other forms of media?