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A Case Against Blogging

I have problems with these sorts of apocalyptic articles, even though I agree with some of their basic points.
Keyboard
 (Daniel Nanescu)

Stefan McDaniel makes a case against blogging, or perhaps, a case against the damage blogging does to our respect for words:

Reading [Neil] Postman for the first time last month gave me clearer language to explain my rage against the rise of blogging. For what he says about media can be said about literary forms — they are biased toward certain kinds of content. The blogpost is biased toward speed, brevity, and cleverness. It thus hands the public square over to bullies, sophists, and clowns.

Some of my very astute pro-blog friends have argued that, whatever their drawbacks, blogs create a democratic public space whose occupants are minimally beholden to state and corporate interests. For the discerning reader, entering the blogosphere is just like listening in on a fascinating conversation among free, brilliant interlocutors. The incompleteness, electicism, and so on are characteristic of good conversation.

There is of course some truth in that. There are proportionately few but absolutely many good blogs, and there’s nothing wrong with reading them. For all my young fogeyism I make a point of reading them myself.
But few of the good blogs my friends or I read are popular, and they are all constantly pushed towards superficiality by the ruling imperative of generating traffic.

Furthermore, even good blogging threatens to worsen our already bad relation with the written word. Several excellent bloggers have told me that they find it much harder than they once did either to follow sustained written arguments (especially when not tricked out with flashy rhetoric) or to make such arguments themselves; they have grown impatient with writing that does not meet bloggy criteria.

For starters, I have problems with these sorts of apocalyptic articles, even though I agree with some of their basic points (Derek Powazek’s recent article on SEO marketing is another example of this). In the case of McDaniel’s article, I don’t think there’s any doubt that blogging (and web writing in general) is certainly changing the way we approach words and language, both for better and worse.

As for myself, I’ve always tried to maintain a proper balance of ​“old” and ​“new” writing. I try and stay away from many of the tropes and conventions of online writing (including some of the typical blog writing ​“tips”) while at the same time, trying to optimize my writing for the web medium.


Read more about Blogging, First Things, and Stefan Mcdaniel.

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