3/22/10 Reading: Thoughts

Lots of readings for this week, so I’ll start off with what I thought of the Sullivan reading! It served as a nice introduction and a good solid definition of “blogging” (along with a comprehensive comparison between it and more traditional writing). Once again, I found myself nodding and smiling at a lot of his points — things like “In fact, for all the intense gloom surrounding the news-paper and magazine business, this is actually a golden era for journalism” and “On the Web, one-sentence links are as legitimate as thousand-word diatribes — in fact, they are often valued more.” Amen a thousand times, my man, Sullivan — couldn’t have said it more concisely myself!

Reading this made me think back to some of the discussions we had last week, though — questions of why? Why do people reply to blogs? Why do people comment with helpful links and tips? Why do people feel the need to essentially play the role of editors online, tearing apart some bloggers’ spelling, grammar, and citations? Is it self-importance? Charity? Boredom? I dunno — why do you do these things? Maybe it just depends on the person…?

Tying this back to (what I imagine is) the main point of the readings for this week, though, I can really respect that blogging is starting to pull the author down out of his/her chair of authority over the reader (a point that Sullivan addressed briefly, but concisely). Honestly, I wish traditional text was more like this in the sense that I as a reader feel like, well… the author’s “friend,” as Sullivan said. I hate feeling patronized and uninformed when I read. Maybe I just lack confidence, but a lot of the time when I read texts for class and stuff, I find myself feeling like the writer is very clearly the teacher and I am the taught. Am I the only one that has a lot of opposition to this power relation? I find it a little insulting, seeing as it’s more than likely both the teacher/author and I both know more about something than the other, so why is one awarded some sort of higher authority? Why does one get to treat the other as essentially… stupid (I know some of you will disagree with this word choice, but I’m using it quite deliberately here, because a lot of educators/writers do let their authority go to their head and start treating their audiences/students like some sort of unintellectual scum).

As for the next reading, the Jay Rosen blog, once again, I couldn’t agree more. Also, I feel like this reading managed to finally explain to me why I hate watching the news. My beliefs tend to hover in that sphere of deviance when it comes to politics (not saying this for the sake of sounding like an “edgy and cool teenager,” because to be honest, it keeps me from enjoying a lot of debates, discussions, etc. with friends and family that would otherwise be fun and involving — in my case, though, I often find myself just sitting at the end of the table or in the back of the group wanting to say something but knowing that if I did, I’d be completely chewed out or outwardly hated for thinking a certain way, but what can you do?), oftentimes resulting in m suppressing an frustrating build-up of rage anytime I turn the television on to some news broadcast. It’s pretty instantaneous, too — if it’s not at the politics on the screen, it’s on the notion that if the news isn’t talking about politics, it’s usually talking about Paris Hilton’s new plastic surgery or some other grossly irrelevant story put out to keep Americans distracted from what really matters. But that’s a matter for another day, and I’ve digressed far too long.

The article reminded me of something I learned last year in my Intro to American Politics class — you don’t have to debate something if you can just reframe it. Echoing to some of the points made in this blog, the teacher basically explained that a popular strategy in news stories and political debates is to not actually discuss controversial issues, but rather re-frame them to be irrelevant. In other words, politicians and reporters will shrug off controversial subjects as self-evident or too extreme to actually talk about (but they do it in such a way that people are so impressed by the jargon and authoritative style that the authors use that the forget to question the absurdity of it all).

It’s absolutely mind-boggling, and if you point it out to anyone that’s just eating the bollocks up like cake, they’ll tear your face off for being too pretentious or trying to hard to be a devil’s advocate!

Enough of this, though, on to the next reading… Shirky’s post reminded me a lot of the Long Tail article we rad awhile back — except in this case it was applied to journalism instead of the music industry. Let me explain: let’s compare record companies to large-scale newspaper companies — both are terrified of change and clinging to an old (and significantly more expensive) economic model of distribution. Despite how loudly the consumer is shouting at them, “Switch over to this new method! It’s much cheaper and will make us all a lot happier,” they’re just straight-up afraid to make that leap. Why? Because the “chaos” (as in the “chaos” Shirky cites that occurred after the creation of the printing press — oh how history repeats itself!) they have to bridge to get there is… too scary, I guess? This just solidifies the point I’ve made time and time again in this blog: people are afraid of change!!

So you see the connection I’m making here, now? I couldn’t help but chuckle a little condescendingly at the newspaper companies after reading this text — I mean, it really didn’t say anything I didn’t already know, but it re-affirmed a lot of things I had already heard and reminded me of just how silly it all is.

And it is silly.

Does laughing at that make me a sadist?

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