Thoughts on Blogging
"What did you get out of [blogging], if anything. What would you do differently? What did you enjoy? Dislike? Do you think you will continue your blog? Were there any surprises? What do you think of blogs in general? Did you share your blog with family and friends and what did they think?"
The value of blogging depends on the value one assigns to it. I think a blog can devolve into a series of snide quips and personal-oriented observations which are not necessarily relevant or insightful. The temptation is there because it takes two clicks to start an entry and there is no editor or process of refinement. That's a pretty inviting door to enter at the end path of laziness.
On the other hand they can prove useful and keep one honest in the course of researching and investigating something, if properly and regularly maintained. For instance, it can be a transitory process in which one fleshes out ideas taking in notes and reproduced, advanced, and aired online. Especially if the blogger has some qualification for the chosen subject matter, it would be interesting for a reader to sort of peer into the blogger's head.
What I like and dislike that's distinctive with blogs is the commentary feedback area. This can be very effective if you have a potential audience base that is supportive but critical in a constructive way, or committed to a civilized debate. But on polarizing issues that's not likely to happen without serious moderation, because by the very nature of the medium people are given to engage in hit-and-run drive bys, posting a snide angry comment or quoting their favorite Maximum Leader as a poor attempt at rebuttal. Conversely, people just cheerleading what a blogger writes are not really adding anything except boosting the author's ego.
Personally I was surprised at the number of hostile commentators. I found it strange because the blog was not linked on any right-wing websites for a targeted attack as far as I can tell, but most of the posters were clearly solidly right-wing in their worldview, and almost uniformly resorted to sarcastic dismissals of myself as "Comandante," which is just...weird. It must be some kind of cathartic experience.
In my opinion, blogs are not a panacea to problems inherent in any means of mass communication, namely, a tendency towards "moronization" and superficiality. Frankly I am not impressed by the grandiose eulogies for blogging. I think most blogs are pretty self-involved or gossip-oriented, and that the useful blogs are an exception to the rule. A useful blog, in my opinion, is one in which a topic is analyzed by someone specially equipped, qualified, or motivated to look at it in a rigorous manner. Ideological bias is not a problem one way or the other as long as the net result for a reader is increasing her or his knowledge.
Obviously the number of blogs that meet this criterion is limited when practically everyone has "discovered" blogging. Blogs largely become a replica of facebook/myspace gossip-centered, frittering away of time.
However, there are clearly cases where blogs can prove socially valuable in the sense that they are immediately accessible and reproducible. So if anyone has an inside scoop on an issue with valid proof, it will spread very quickly on the internet, magnifying and amplifying that issue, much to the detriment of whatever wrongdoers (governments, corporations, individuals) are involved. Naturally, the downside here is that it becomes all too easy to smear individuals for malevolent reasons in the context of, say, high school feuds or romantic tiffs. This will undoubtedly have interested consequences for media law, defamation, and libel.
My friends and family are well aware of my politics so this blog's contents comes as a surprise to no one. I will definitely continue it as an extension of the political journal I edit simply because Katrina's effects are long-term even though media exposure tends to diminish as the event itself recedes into the past. What happens with the multitude of issues resulting from the hurricane is also a very illuminating marker of all major social indices in the U.S. - housing, labor, gentrification, reconstruction, environment, and race. It's a useful way to keep track of, and keep a record of, what is happening and what it means from a left-wing perspective.