Monday, December 25, 2006

fools, embiciles, and bloggers

If you enjoy reading blogs - and especially, if you're a blogger yourself - you should read this article by Joseph Rago of the venerable Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt:
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps.

More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.

Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . .
Ouch! Stings, doesn't it?

Mr. Rago is right, of course, about the size of the blogosphere and the propensity for pontification. There are so many blogs out there, and the quality can be severely lacking. A blog may be a Mortal Human in the TTLB Ecosystem, but that doesn't mean it's worthy of your time. Technorati may show a blog having hundreds of links, but that doesn't many every single linker visits that blog routinely. I don't give equal attention to every blog on my blogroll; there are some I visit more frequently than others.

Why is this? Because, looking at blogs and deciding what to link to is entirely subjective. At the risk of sounding like a certain issue of Time, you have the power to choose what too read and what to look at. I realize that what I'm typing is nothing original or extraordinary, but it is quite accurate.

I do believe Mr. Rago is being overly cynical, however. Blogging - much like art- is subjective. People blog for a variety of reasons, whether it be a foodie sharing the menu from her most recent party or a politico listing all the reasons why his party is the best and your party has nothing but decadent and corrupt leaders. The artist uses some form of media - whether it be sculpture, music, or some other form - as a means of expression. I blog as a way to put concrete words to fluid thoughts, to keep in touch with family and friends, and to share my faith. If you blog, you have your own reasons for posting what you do.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt conducted an interview with Rago (who's only 23!), and he was able to hold his own.

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