Tuesday, March 22, 2005
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Liveblogging the Brookings event
Click here to watch the live webcast of the Brookings Institution panel, "The Impact of the New Media." I'll be liveblogging this event, and to make life easier for the Brookings tech people, newer comments will be higher than the older ones. UPDATE: Now that it's over, I actually prefer doing it with newer comments below rather than above, so I've reconfigured it.
Let the liveblogging.... begin!!!
9:40 AM: OK, let's see.... coffee in mug, pajamas on body [He's liveblogging from home, thank you very much!!--ed.], editor now locked in closet [Mmmmmph!--ed.], earphones plugged in and on head to better hear the webcast, and a feeling of eager excitement that I've beaten my fellow livebloggers to the first post.... yes, yes, I believe I offically am a complete dweeb.
Still fifteen minutes to the Brooking panel itself... there needs to be a word for that soft murmur of voices that precedes any C-SPAN-like event. Readers are encouraged to post posibilities. 9:55 AM: A danieldrezner.com exclusive -- MUST CREDIT DANIELDREZNER.COM. Ana Marie Cox has chosen the teal shirt for today. That's teal, people. UPDATE: I'm informed that it's green... must be the camera.
10:02 AM: What, they haven't started yet? This would never happen at a University of Chicago faculty meeting!!!
10:07 AM: Let the games begin!!
10:10 AM: Interesting... Dionne points out that Atrios, Kos, Marshall, and Yglesias were invited to live-blog as well but declined... one wonders if this ties into this paper's observation that liberals are also less likely to link to each other. [UPDATE: to be fair, Marshall had a very important engagement this weekend.] Dionne also tries to roil waters by characterizing bloggers as "parasitic" on mainstream media. I prefer the word "symbiotic."
10:15 AM: So Cox is high on Robitussin... again. "Do bloggers make mistakes?" Cox says (paraphrasing), "Duh, yes, but since blogs aren't really a primary source of news, it's not as catastrophic as the MSM believes." Which is true -- but another difference is that bloggers can quickly correct factual errors.
10:20 AM: Shafer approvingly cites Jay Rosen's characterization of blogs as "distributed journalism."
10:23 AM: Jodie T. Allen confesses to being a "web addict"; earlier Shafer states that many journalists Technorati themselves to see who's commenting on their writings.
10:27 AM: Allen makes a shrewd point about the faltering economic model of newspapers... and it's not just bloggers that are threatening them. She frets about the closing of overseas bureaus, which could lead to a decline in factual reporting, because "opinions are a lot cheaper than facts." However, here's the thing -- bloggers often function as superb stringers. The tsunami disaster allowed many bloggers to provide on-the-spot reporting from a breaking news event. Of more concern is whether bloggers would be able to match reporters in reporting on, say, opaque givernments.
10:30 AM: "Blogging is traditional; podcasting is new media" Sigh.... Mickey Kaus is right--we've jumped the shark.
10:31 AM: Dionne is weirdly.... sexy when he reads AndrewSullivan.com. Not that there's anything wrong with that!!
10:32 AM: Hmmm..... Sullivan has the sniffles, Ana Marie Cox has the sniffles.... no, let's not go there.
10:34 AM: Ah, real news -- Sullivan says that as he grew more critical of the administration, his fundraising drives produced lower yields -- from $80,000 to $20,000 to $12,000. This is something I'd like to see the panelists discuss -- to what extent will the lure of large sums of money (by blogger standards) act as an ideological straight-jacket for prominent bloggers?
10:38 AM: You know Internet journalism is getting old when Shafer and Sullivan reminisce about the good old days of... 1996.
10:40 AM: Sullivan makes a key point -- for bloggers to be effective, they must be "pariahs." The fact is, the medisphere can be a clubby place, both within itself and between reporters and politicos. Will bloggers get sucked into this vortex as well?
10:41 AM: Cox uses the phrase "circle jerk" at Brookings.... somewhere, Richard Nixon's ghost is wondering why he ever thought of firebombing the place.
10:43 AM: Hey, E.J.!! The problem with Kos was not that he raised money for Dems, it was that he took money for consulting for Dems as well..... though I do believe this particular kerfuffle was overblown, since he admitted this from day one.
10:48 AM: "People are still fact-oriented," according to Allen -- even among Deaniacs.
10:50 AM: FYI, here are the specific links to other livebloggers: Ruy Teixeira, Ed Morrissey, and Laura Rozen; Trevino and Cole appear to be MIA. UPDATE: Here's Cole's post -- Trevino never bothered to post.
10:52: Someone who works for the Center for Public Integrity says that many blogs promote slander and libel.,.. as opposed to the Center for Public Integrity, which never issues misleading press releases. Seriously, Shafer and Cox shoot this down pretty effectively -- because there are costs to royally screwing things up.
10:58 AM: Dionne points out that blogs can foster the spread of rumor and slander faster than traditional media... except that blogs also make this spread much more transparent. The counterfactual is not just traditional media, but the spread of urban legends via private e-mails and listservers. The best example of this was the claim that the exit polls were correct and Kerry really won the election. Without blogs and other Internet media, this rumor would have just festered -- because of blogs, these accusations got quickly aired and quickly falsified.
11:00 AM: Sullivan points out that bloggers are much harsher to each other than to any public figure -- I have no idea what he's talking about. UPDATE: Dionne mentions this comment -- I am so inside the Beltway right now. Now I have to go and buy one of those Blackberry thingmabobs.
11:02 AM: Props to the guy who called the comments section of blogs a "cacophony of crap" -- you know he'd been up all night honing that phrase. Seriously, I do think there's a scaling problem with comments section -- the bigger the blog, the greater the percentage of crap. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this.
11:07: What does it say that I'm an avid blog-readers and writer, but any discussion of talk radio and the fairness doctrine puts me to sleep? In other news, it appears to be standing room only in the room. And let's have a shout-out to those twentysomething interns who have to get those mikes to the people in the room!!
11:11 AM: Sullivan said, "hetero".... heh.
11:15 AM: Cox thinks it's useless to distinguish between "media" and "journalism." I'd rephrase -- there is a difference between
11:18 AM: Sullivan thinks there should be no schools for journalists, and that the "interns of the future" are those who are writing blogs in college. Matthew Yglesias has no idea what Sullivan's talking about.
11:24 AM: Ratner is harping on the economics of journalism, and asking whether bloggers will reduce the ability of media institutions to invest in reporting. I understand ratner's concern, but it seems to me this applies more to investigative journalism than most other sections of the media. For example, does journalism really have a comparative advantage over an expert blogger when a think tank or a research institute, for example, issues a press release?
11:27 AM: Sullivan points out that bloggers provide hyperlinked footnotes, which the New York Times op-ed page does not.
11;28 AM: A questioner asks what happens if a blogger receives an e-mail informing them that they're wrong? In my case it depends on whether the e-mailer has their facts correct as well. I've found that about two-thirds of the time the dispute is more over my interpretation of facts rather than the facts themselves. The others -- hell, yes, I'll post a correction. I'm not thrilled about it, but it's happened enough so that I'm used to it.
11:30 AM: Sullivan says blogs are a new form of literature. Great -- I want my own Pulitzer Prize now, dammit!!
11:33 AM: Sullivan has blog insurance??!!!
11:34 AM: Click here to see Ryan Sager's New York Post column discussing the Pew sponsorship of research into campaign finance reform that the panelists are discussing. Key section:
On the first point, I do think that bloggers serve two useful purposes -- a barometer of public opinion, and an opportunity to discuss specific issues raised by this case -- the legal and medical questions.
On the second point, I'm working on a large post which I'll inflict on people later in the week.
11:51 AM: Ruy has the best one-sentence summary of the event: "an interesting but not cutting-edge event."
11:54 AM: On the role of blogs elsewhere, do be sure to check out my Foreign Policy essay with Henry Farrell, "Web of Influence." Sullivan is correct that blogs can be a subversive tool in repressive societies -- but authoritarian governments are learning how to respond with brutal but appallingly effective tactics (link via Glenn Reynolds)
11:56 AM: Allen says opinion journalism are like "thumb-sucking," and that women don't like the taste of their thumbs. Must.... resist.... savage mockery of metaphor.
11:58 AM: Dionne gets the first Nazi reference in -- and after an hour and fift-eight minutes of discusion about blogs. That has to be a record for the longest period of time before Godwin's Law kicks in.
12:03 PM: Ana Marie Cox bravely calls for a moratorium of panels on blogs.... oh, sure, now that she's hit her premier frequent-flyer status via blog conferences, she wants to shut down the ravy train.
12:06 PM: That's a wrap.... and thank God, because I desperately need to go to the bathroom.
posted by Dan on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM
10:10 AM: Interesting... Dionne points out that Atrios, Kos, Marshall, and Yglesias were invited to live-blog as well but declined... one wonders if this ties into this paper's observation that liberals are also less likely to link to each other.
FWIW, Marshall just got married this weekend (he's had
Take a drink every time Sullivan says the word 'torture'. Then call a cab.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
I have to say that I think the 'self-correcting' nature of blogging is highly overrated. At the height of the rabidness of the political season, on the significant issues in public dispute, I just don't think it happens so much.
What blogging does have over the traditional media (god how I hate such terms) is greater rapidity when the correction actually occurs and a somewhat greater ability to promulgate the correction.posted by: Aaron on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
"11:02 AM: Props to the guy who called the comments section of blogs a "cacophony of crap" -- you know he'd been up all night honing that phrase. Seriously, I do think there's a scaling problem with comments section -- the bigger the blog, the greater the percentage of crap. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this."
This looks like an implicit discouragement from posting my crap.posted by: Nick Kaufman on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
Comment-jadin unite!posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
10:02 AM: What, they haven't started yet? This would never happen at a University of Chicago faculty meeting!!!
*giggle* *snort*posted by: Jacob T. Levy on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
...to what extent will the lure of large sums of money (by blogger standards) act as an ideological straight-jacket for prominent bloggers?
Well, what about book deals for media types like Krugman or Kristof?
My quick guess - Krugman is a saint to 20% of the electorate; if 1% of voters buy his books, that is a million sales; figure $5 per book as a royalty, and his incentive to play to the far left rather than the sensible center looks powerful.
Are bloggers subject to the same influence? I have no doubt of it, even in terms of readership, rather than dollars.
And I just had an argument with someone about this, which is of course subjective, but...
My theory is that prominent lefties have been dragged, or have chosen to move, to the left, just like their party (with Dean). Now, I can't think off-hand of some objective measure of this, but I have seen casual commenters suggesting that Drum and Yglesias, who were once towers of the moderate left, have lost their minds.
But how about the right? Go back a few years to the famous "Four Horseman of the Ablogalypse", who were Reynolds, Sullivan, Den Beste, and Johnson.
Sullivan endorsed Kerry, Den Beste retired, Reynolds is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, (but pro war!), and Johnson is still Johnson - my claim is that a mad march even further to the right has *not* ocurred.
Just a thought. One obvious reply - righties were already so far "over there" that no further movement was imaginable.
Tom makes a great point. When the MSM accuses the blogosphere of being conservative, all they are doing is showcasing their own leftward bias. If any thing there are probably less traditional conservatives and more libertarians than are representative of the country. Its rather amazing how many bloggers that (reluctantly i grant you) supported Kerry are lumped in as conservatives.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
"On the first point, I do think that bloggers serve two useful purposes -- a barometer of public opinion..."
And I susect about as accurate a one as the famous 1936 telephone poll that found Alf Landon soundly defeating FDR. Blogs -- and most especially the comments sections of blogs -- are closer to a voicementer indicating who screams the mostest & the loudest.posted by: Gene on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
Sullivan says that as he grew more critical of the administration, his fundraising drives produced lower yields -- from $80,000 to $20,000 to $12,000.
Alternate hypothesis: I believe Sullivan's first pledge drive was 2002 - when there were far fewer blogs. By 2003 and 2004, the market was completely saturated. I had a total of ten blogs bookmarked in 2001-2002. Today, I have eight folders with 10-15 blogs each.
Also: I imagine that quite a bit of the dropoff is blowback from (1) the $80,000 he made in year 1; seeing that amount, many probably decided they didn't need to contribute again later on, and (2) the month-long vacations. What, is he blogging from France or something?posted by: Independent George on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
He should have said 'as he got more shrill, panicky, and myopic.' Sorry, I love Andrew, but his work simply fell off, politics quite aside.posted by: Mark Buehner on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
Perhaps I just missed this as I skimmed Dan's live blog, but I didn't see any comments from Slate's Jack Shafer. I thought that was odd.
Slate stands, or stood a few years ago, between the mainstream media and the blogosphere. If it had wanted to, or had thought of it, it could have absorbed the energies of half a dozen bloggers -- it had the platform, a superior format for comments, plus bloggers would have cost it less than most of the writers it employs now. (I don't know what Slate pays Christopher Hitchens per piece, but whatever it is, it's too much.) Slate could have been Blog Central in addition to anything else it wanted to be, but instead it's just sort of there.
I don't know about comment sections. Some of them are bad enough to create a real "pearls before swine" situation for anyone wanting to post something thoughtful. I suppose I ought to do something about that.posted by: Zathras on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
I'd like to also take issue with Sullivan's claim that criticizing the administration drove down his pledge amounts. I voted for Bush, but I read plenty of blogs that were either enthusiastically or reluctantly pro-Kerry, but Sullivan just got too hysterical to bother with. The patronizing belief that his readers didn't want to deal with exposure to any anti-Bush comments is if anything totally symptomatic of his writing's current state.posted by: Josh on 03.22.05 at 09:47 AM [permalink]
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