Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keeping Each Other Honest

My pal Bookworm has a great piece up about the dynamism and interplay in the blogosphere:

When I was a young lawyer, I worked for an attorney who liked me to sit in the room and just listen to him dictate his briefs into his little hand-held Dictaphone. When I expressed concern that I was wasting client time, he assured me I was not. I was, he said, keeping him honest.

Merely by being in the room, I acted as a buffer against his tendency to exaggerate favorable facts, or to apply law to facts in illogical or even unethical ways. I also kept him from wandering off topic, since he was playing to me, the audience. (It helped that I knew the law, the facts, and the issues and could actually speak up when necessary, but it was my presence he desired most.)

I often think of this when I look at the difference between bloggers, on the one hand, and a whole host of idea makers, on the other hand, whether they reside in politics, journalism, academia or entertainment. Bloggers — and their readers — are a highly communicative and often combative lot. We leave comments (thousands of them) at blogs offering kudos, criticisms, information, data and corrections; we write whole posts riffing off of or criticizing someone’s thoughts; and we sometimes engage in blog wars, which periodically see vast numbers of others in the blogging community rushing to support one party or another to the combat.

Most importantly, all of this swirling intellectual energy and knowledge collaboration takes place on the same political side of the aisle. That is, I’m not describing a head-to-head combat between conservative and Progressive bloggers. Nope. I’m describing the elucidations, skirmishes, tiffs and battles that take place solely in the conservative salon.

I’m not complaining when I describe this vigorous atmosphere. I think it’s one of the best things about blogging, because it keeps us, the bloggers, honest. If I say something foolish, ill-informed, or offensive, someone will call me on it. (And because this is the conservative side of the blogosphere, I’ll usually be called on it very politely.)

This makes us bloggers very different from that other world of ideas that I referenced at the top of this post; namely, the world of journalism, politics, academia and entertainment. In those worlds, almost without exception, echo chambers and sycophancy are the name of the game. Supportive though this approach seems, it is a form of ideological suicide. People need constructive criticism, not from enemies, who can be discounted, but from those who fight on the same side that they do. Absent that kind of criticism, bad ideas, instead of being politely criticized out of existence, take on an illogical and dangerous life of their own.

Read the rest here

I would also add that it's not just other bloggers. Since we are so close to our readers, (blogging can get pretty intimate) we tend to operate out of respect for them and that keeps us honest as well.

And the interplay also waters the tree of least it does for me.

I think that also applies to some of the best broadcasters, although since some of them are talking to millions of people they are of necessity a bit more removed.

When Rush Limbaugh returned to the air after getting married and apologized to his audience for keeping things so quiet he used the word "familial" to describe how he viewed them.

I understand where he was coming from.

please helps me write more gooder!

1 comment:

louielouie said...

(And because this is the conservative side of the blogosphere, I’ll usually be called on it very politely.)

that is, of course, unless you're monkey boy.