Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I was "interviewed" the other day by my friend and former student Alex on the whole phenom of blogging ... I suspect my response came a bit late for use in her essay, but I quite enjoyed the process, largely because it got me thinking of this whole odd revolution in self-expression--this assortment of autobiographical, editorializing, ranting, exhibitionist online writing more diverse than a handful of snowflakes.

Anyway, I thought I'd post my answers to (some of) Alex's questions, given that that were in fact thought-provoking for me. Hopefully I'm not breaking any copyright laws should my answers actuall make it into Alex's article ...

1. Why do you blog?

My blog started as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family. I moved from London, ON this past summer to St. John's, and wanted a way of keeping people posted on the major events in my life without resorting to lengthy mass emails that tend to annoy more than engage. This way, I can give people a web site and they can tune in (or not) at their own leisure.

That was the initial reason for starting, but now I quite enjoy the forum. I certainly don't limit myself to "significant" occurrences -- my entries range from musings to political rants and editorializing to personal narrative to more considered philosophical meditations to observations of the odd or quirky. And certainly one of the best parts of blogging, for me, is inspiring comments from readers -- I often measure the success of a post by the number of comments I get. I enjoy the dialogue that can happen.

2. Are blogs and blogging culture interesting to you? do you actively read/comment on the blogs of others?

I went from being more or less indifferent to blogs to being an avid reader the day I started my own. It was at that point that I began to appreciate the scope of the blogosphere -- people I didn't know would comment on my blog, and I would follow their links back to their pages, and sometimes would comment there. My own contact list has expanded in this way, as I have developed online acquaintances with people.

3. If I were to say that blogging is changing the media world and how journalism functions in our culture, would you agree/disagree? Why/why not?

Yes and no. On one hand, blogs are coming to fulfill that promise that techno-gurus and electronic new-agers sermonized about in the mid-nineties when then internet was first really getting its legs; that is, the promise of an infinitely interconnected forum that provides for genuinely free speech and expression, and a resource for those wishing an alternative to the mainstream press. And this phenomenon has certainly had its impact on that very same mainstream media, if for no other reason than both CNN and FOXNews have "blog updates" in which an anchorperson of some description provides a very brief rundown on how major news stories are playing out in the major blogs.

On the other hand, this presence of the blogs in mainstream media is nothing if not superficial -- a mere tip of the hat to the phenomenon itself rather than any sort of genuine engagement with the medium. As for a change in "journalism" itself, we have to remember that this is a profession with a set of standards in terms of how information is gathered, researched, confirmed, and presented ... the freedom of the internet is a double-edged sword insofar as it does not provide for any sort of vetting process or set of standards for how information is to be presented. And while this may provide a niche for those working outside the mainstream, at the same time there is nothing to prevent people from posting blatant lies and claiming them as truth. I suppose one could say that this makes for skeptical readers, a media audience less inclined to accept reportage at face value and more inclined to confirm "facts" for themselves ... I certainly hope this might be the case.

I think that, overall, blogs make us redfine our standard understanding of "media," for at their best they are less sources for news than for debate and dialogue. At their best, they offer us that which is entirely absent from the mainstream media, which is to say a vigorous debate that steps outside of political talking points. They are not "media" in the traditional sense, but a reinvention of it; nor are they "journalism" in the traditional sense, but they offer a skeptical and discerning reader a great resource for stories and news that work against the grain.

In other news, check out The DeWaard's raccoon. Let's hear it for urban critters who know they're always safe co-habitating with sensitive students.


iceman said...

Blogs I feel, are like CNN. An opportunity to proliferate and pontificate at the same time. Unlike, Ted Turner and his Frankenstein'journalistic monster', I do enjoy reading the often perceptive insights bloggers offer on all aspects of their worlds. But!!!!! Bloggers listen up! This is a bit of advise from some one who still thinks 'newsreaders' offer the best way to present the news,as does BBC, tell me what has happened, as accurately and dispassionately as possible and let me decide how important it is and if and how it will impact my life!
So, as you blog, be mindful, that there are those out here who are interested in your ramblings and insights, but also have minds of their own, and honestly can decipher the intracacies of personal anghst as well as determining whether or not, I should be (pick one!)upset, aghast, disgusted, reviled, mortified, puking,elated, mesmerized, in love with...................etc! Look forwrd to reading your respnses.

alex said...

:D some made the cut.. don't worry!

thanks for your help!

i'll send you the article shortly. perhaps after it is returned to me with a giant A+ on it, haha.

mr. tomas ubik said...

in addition to the summation of this thing we call blogs that I wrote a while back, the opportunity this medium provides to give way to some form of traditional colliseum like public sphere is quite the revelation.

it a population of billions there truly is no other means to get voices "in one room" so to speak. As long as there is a computer now that room can be built.

Lesley said...

I kinda like the idea of blogs. You get to learn new things from other people and also find humour in different things. As well, it provides an opportunity to "meet" new faces and express comments and concerns.

It's also cool that I've met so many new people just by reading others thoughts and ideas.

andrew said...

alex "interviewed" me too, though my answer was infinitely less articulate... perhaps she should post her essay on her blog...

and the co-habitation is going quite well. at first we thought we should shoot it with my bb gun to scare it away, but now we've just learned to love his late nite scrambling around in the attic. we're really pretty similar us students and raccoons. we both sleep through the day and live surrounded by garbage...

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