This isn’t just about the demand side getting the power to supply. It’s about moving from use to manufacture, from passivity to engagement.
Posted in: Blogging.
[…] Searls: Why I keep blogging [vía] […]
And this is why blogging is so very exploitative, because both you and he know it’s a cruel, cruel myth :-(.
No, we don’t. Or at least I don’t. Get a grip, Seth…
Seth, you should write a piece one of these days “Why I keep commenting on Dan Gillmor’s blog.” Because leaving comments actually meets McCarty’s definition of interactivity and the conversation, and and, quoting him, at times, “intellectual weed control.” If it weren’t for us, this blog would be a monologue at times. No offense Dan (and thanks for the beer last week), but this is where your readers gnaw more than you. But we converse. 🙂
I realize I’m in the tiny minority here about pointing out there is has been, there is, and there will be online conversations that isn’t by definition blogging, and by calling everything blogging, a myopia sets in.
Jon, I’m in your minority, in that case. I don’t contend that all online conversations are blogging, and never have.
Indeed. Doc felt free to cite Dr. Willard McCarty as an inspiration for blogging. Yet McCarty doesn’t blog. He is one of the pioneers of the use of computers in the humanities, yet he’s still stuck in pioneer mode, using an email list.
We can no more criticize a scholar for using an email list than we can a news publisher for using wood pulp as the medium of a choise, but that does make it difficult to cast him as a blog hero.
Oh, ever the researcher, I’d like to get a glimpse of who just who this fellow McCarty is and what he has to say. In the 20th anniversary isssue of his Humanist newsletter last week, he writes about Jon Garvie in the Times Literary Supplement reviewing a new book Inequality.com (which was not written by Seth and me I might add):
“‘In a clever reading of Marshall McLuhan,’ Garvie notes, ‘the authors suggest that his famous term the ‘global village’ should be read less as a metaphor for the interconnectedness of far-flung places than as a forecast of the 360-degree surveillance, much of it prurient, that a digitally contracted world renders possible.'”
Um, clever reading? I remember scanning McLuhan a decade ago in college and that was intended reading. McLuhan was pessimist about the global village. Even the Wikipedia entry on Global Village conveys this, quoting directly:
“Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside.”
(I know, I go around, saying that I’m not a blogger, because I prefer to follow in the footsteps of A.J. Liebling, and, quite practically, more of my regularly written output is in other people’s comments. But what most inspires me most to have solidarity with bloggers is not some twitty English professor babbling on, but instead when guys like Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Kareem Suleiman in Egypt are thrown into jail for blogging).
Speaking of conversations, can you invite Doc to respond here? He’s only had five comments to his blog all week.
Jon, thanks, I really shouldn’t do this stuff – it’s not like it does any good, and it certainly doesn’t do *me* any good, quite the reverse. I suppose it’s just frustration over my having been conned and taken by the blog-evangelism.
C’mon Dan, you and Doc know all about the huge inequalities of power, the fact that outside the rarefied heights of a minuscule elite, blogger “engagement” is far more regarded as a market to be sold, or as potential “local content harvesting”, than anything else. There’s a long history of utopian naivete, but at this point in the hype-cycle, conference-clubbing A-listers with stock options in data-mining businesses and consulting gigs, make for profits, not prophets. At some point, the whole You-Yes-*YOU* line goes from being a promise to a threat.
Unless you are a “professional blogger” (or aspire to be) — the vast majority of bloggers (or whatever you want to call them) just don’t fit this category — this should be fun for you…
If it’s NOT, you can always gather your toys and go home… this is a luxury “professional bloggers” don’t have (if this is a way to make money, it seems to become like a job — you can quit if you want but not without significant loss… )
Plus their real life appears to be intertwined with this blogging thing so they can’t just anonymously decide they’ve had enough, have a clean break and move on…
P.S. So I wouldn’t envy them too much (it can and it *does* get quite unpleasent at times and they have to face the music come what may). D.
Delia, for me, the idea was not so much “make money”, but “be heard“. The whole “route around” and “no gatekeepers” sales-pitch. These days, it’s apparent that being an A-lister is a media job just like other media jobs, requiring lots of self-promotion, stroking of BigHeads so that they will stroke you back, and/or playing to the crowds to get attention. Otherwise, on your own, you’ll be talking to the crickets (and being told, perhaps you like talking to crickets, perhaps they make a pleasing sound, some people like talking to plants, be happy little Z-lister because someone somewhere might hear you one day …). Which fuels pyramid-scheme aspects of the bogosphere, as there needs to be a constant replacement of the burnt-out suckers with new marks (because what good is a guru without followers?). So it’s not that I envy them _per se_, more at opposing the sin, not the sinner.
But even if the current batch of evangelists repented, there would just be another crop who would take their place, so nothing would change. Again, the dream-selling moved me to comment, even though objectively that probably wasn’t the best idea (see the problem?).
If you see it as a sin… why be part of it? As far as I see it, the only good reason to do this as a “volunteer” is… because you enjoy it! If you don’t… (or at the point you don’t anymore), there is an easy way out of your “misery”… (if that’s how you see it).
As to being heard, people have limited time so unless you have something they *really* want or need I think it’s naive to think they will drop what they were doing and start listening to you… You probably have a better chance of “being heard” (before they remove you…) if you go to the mall, get on a soap box and start talking…
Again, if it’s not fun for you (everything taken into consideration), don’t do it…
P.S. I’m not convinced that being an “A-lister,” in itself, makes people in general listen to them… I mean, I took a look at a couple of them (just because I’ve heard of them in favorable terms) and I must confess I was thoroughly bored…. If people listen to them just because they are A-listers, I don’t think they are really listening…
And if you think of it in terms of having “influence”, I don’t think it’s anywhere to the extent that you appear to believe — the vast majority of people don’t read blogs, definitely not on a regular basis.
Some of them may have significant influence because they are seen as
“experts.” I’m doubtful of any real “experts” in something where so few things are demonstrably the way the “experts” claim to be. So I agree that it’s a “guru” system…
But in any case, why even worry about it if it’s not fun for you? Go take a nap instead:)…. D.
Delia, why do some people have a gambling problem? Or stay in abusive relationships? Or get taken by pyramid scheme/multi-level-marketing? etc.
Because, being human, we are flawed.
And my condemnation of blog-evangelism is that it preys on people’s yearnings for influence, and does this for the benefit of the evangelists.
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