The blog threat

From the “Blog as Boogeyman” files:

(1) On Midmorning this morning, author Jane Hamilton suggested blogs are making it difficult for the next generation of young writers to be discovered.

“How are the gifted young voices going to rise up through the murk of the blogosphere?” she told Kerri Miller. “How will we find them? It might be harder for them to get established and make a living. There’s so much to wade through and publishers might not necessarily be willing to invest in a young person who’s finding their way.”

However, she said “Good writing will surface and good writers will be able to carry on and we will want to read them.”

(2) The New York Times uses the broad brush to lament that blogs aren’t about credibility.

But seeking credibility may be a less-important strategy for the blogs at this stage. Mr. Arrington, a lawyer, is quick to point out that he has no journalism training. He is at ease, even high-minded, in explaining the decisions to print unverified rumors.

Mr. Arrington and the other bloggers see this not as rumor-mongering, but as involving the readers in the reporting process. One mission of his site, he said, is to write about the things a few people are talking about, “the scuttlebutt around Silicon Valley.” His blog will often make clear that he’s passing along a thinly sourced story.

For the record, it was the New York Times — printed on dead trees — that went out of its way in the middle of a presidential campaign to suggest the Republican nominee was having an affair while providing no attribution for the very sloppy article.

  • I believe that the rise of blogging only creates another proving ground for great writers; especially those aspiring writers of a young computer/internet savvy generation. If one has the ability to write at a high level, the writer will get recognition.

    The dynamic that worries me, as cited by Jane Hamilton this morning, is the fact that more people appear to be writing then reading. This is something that I have noticed, especially within the last year or two, and I believe it is a serious problem. I am worried that the standard, on which literary judgement is based, will diminish as more people turn to ‘bit reading’ (i.e. blogs that briefly cover many topics, as apposed to a resource that covers fewer topics but in greater detail).

  • sm

    It was heartening to hear Jane Hamilton talk about the idea many people have that they have something worthwhile to say, and that other people should be interested in what they have to say. I wonder how much of this is a product of the unsifted and unsorted generation, where everyone gets a blue ribbon and gold star no matter what they do.

    Someone I heard on the radio said “opinion is cheap to produce. That’s why there’s so much of it”.

    The blogosphere generally is one huge vanity press. As I neither have the time nor interest to read rambling online diaries, I look for reasoned thought and analysis by trained professionals.

    I’d like to see a search method that would sift out Joe Blow’s blog, tweets and bleats from the genuine valuable nuggets available online. Instead of Bing it could be called NAWOT: Not a Waste of Time.

  • Bob Collins

    But much of literature isn’t “reasoned thought and analysis” by trained professionals, it’s some person’s personal story or a story.

    The issue you’re describing is the lack of an editor to sift through all the information that’s available. But that was supposed to be the advantage of the Internet — that it makes information available without filtering.

    Ms. Hamilton — or perhaps it was a caller — was discussing independent bookstores vs. chains today and noted that most people do not ask for reading recommendations when they go into a bookstore. The employee’s job is to help them find what they already know they want.

    So that raises the question of “how do they know what they want?” Who is making the decisions for them — via reviews and such — on what qualifies as something worth reading. And are they ever wrong?

  • bob

    Loved SM’s comments. The welter of blogs just makes me feel blogged down (hey, maybe that term will catch on). I too would dearly welcome a sifter/sorter engine that I could use to separate the useful blogs from the bogus ones.

  • Bob Collins

    //a sifter/sorter engine that I could use to separate the useful blogs from the bogus ones.

    How about an RSS reader?

  • JohnnyZoom

    >> [bloggers] see this not as rumor-mongering, but as involving the readers in the reporting process

    Yeah, those are called “fact checkers”. But as most readers don’t realize they’re being indentured in such a way, they end up (for the most part) being lousy at it.

  • How many of these mindless blogs purport themselves to be news or news worthy? Exactly what constitutes a bogus blog?

    I have a blog. It’s for my friends & family who range from Lansing, MI to Wellington, New Zealand to Berlin, Germany. If you want to read it, that’s nice. But I doubt you’d care about my son finally riding his bike or my opinion of Terminator 4.

    Am I somehow contributing to the decline of American Literature or Journalistic Quality?

    Am I in the crowd of misanthropic bloggers? Do I need an editor to blog? Am I bogus?

    Who is empowered to judge the professional quality of the blog? I have a 2nd blog that is professional, my profession (industrial hygiene), which I am confident few journalists or English literature professors are qualified to judge beyond my grammar and writing style. If they want to read it, that’s fine. Maybe I could improve my writing and they could learn about exposure analysis.

    There’s too much ragging on blogs as a ubiquitous, uniform entity. Painting them as News Cut vs. Xena’s Xippy News is a narrow view of the picture.

    BTW, bob-I really like the term ‘blogged down’

  • Well said Elizabeth T

  • Pleasurable blog post you have here. I hadn’t given due consideration this.