Controversy in bloggerland

Last night, my friend Tom Wright, sent me a link to an article and asked my opinion. He said, “Wondered if you might be interested in reading this discussion of blogging and reactions from bloggers.

Here’s the reply I sent him.

“Thanks for the link.

I’ve just read Shafer’s article. I had seen other posts from people I read regularly, Dave Winer, Dan Gillmor, etc., about the conference at Harvard and I had picked up some of the tone of the “dispute” from their posts, but since I don’t think of myself as an either/or kind of guy, I hadn’t paid much attention to it.

My own take is that blogs will have more influence than some people think and less than the true believers and evangelists prophesy. I don’t think the mainstream media will go away, but I also don’t think they’ll escape having their feet held to the fire by the blogosphere. And I don’t think that bloggers will survive their “fame” without quite a few of them (us) waking up one morning with egg on our face because we bought a meme that was later shown to be false.

There’s a whole lot of us-versus-them-ism in this country right now that doesn’t result in civil discourse but merely serves to erect barriers between points of view. I frankly am old enough to almost long for the practice that I used to hear from Senators when they’d say something like, “As my esteemed colleague from Illinois (while thinking, “who is dumber than a bag of hammers and often has his head up his ass”) will agree, … ” Name-calling between the blogosphere and the mainstream media has become like the rapper’s spiel or the talk show host’s rant. Conversations where each party recognizes the other’s intelligence and right to a difference of opinion are an endangered species of dialog. When I hear what passes for discussion nowadays, I just sigh and lament that it is far too easy to get seduced into following suit and far too hard to retain a commitment to respecting the comments of those who differ with my point of view.

This tempest in a teapot will pass away before the mainstream media is toppled by blogs or blogs are shown to be uninformed opinion-pushers by the fact checkers. Both will be with us for some time to come, I think. The world is populated by both cats and dogs, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon.”


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