Tuesday, November 15, 2005

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A weird week in the blogosphere

So there's been some positive developments for the credibility of bloggers. For example, Andrew Sullivan announced that he will be moving his blog to Time's website. Congrats to Andrew.

In other positive blog news, Harvard history graduate student Rebecca Anne Goetz has an excellent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the synergies between blogging and the academy:

Academic bloggers who write about research and teaching are thinking very seriously about their vocation and they are engaging with their colleagues about how to do it right.

Academics who blog and assemble carnivals can perform thought experiments and try out ideas quickly without going through the conventional publications or conference process. They can also comment on areas outside of their expertise or current research. If they like, and I've been known to do this myself, they can be a bit silly on their blogs too, letting off steam at the end of a long week.

In short, I find that blogging makes my work better. What isn't to like about that?

It's certainly a nice counterpoint to Ivan Tribble. And Goetz has useful follow-up links at her own blog as well.

On the other hand, there's also a lot of weird blogosphere versions of those multiple car accidents that you think are just horrible but can't help looking at anyway.

I don't want to call any more attention to them than already exists, so I'll just tell you to click over to this Rob Capriccioso story at Inside Higher Ed on one ugly academic blog brawl, [UPDATE: Tim Burke has the best assessment of this particular brouhaha] and this New York Times column by David Carr about what happens when Gawker gawks at the wrong topic. And then go take a shower.

Oh, and I'll state for the record that I'm less than thrilled with the decision by Pajamas Media to have Judy Miller give the keynote address at the big launch. I'm even less thrilled to have to agree with Kos that this is not an auspicious beginning.

posted by Dan on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM


Add to that Mary Mapes' disjointed and misleading assault on blogs and mindboggling defense of the indefensible. The real question is, how many other MSM producers and talent secretly feel that the burder of proof lies with the public to prove them wrong, not with the media to prove themselves right.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

Dan--thanks for the mention on your blog. I'm pretty pleased with the attention and support my column is receiving...but that comes as no surprise! One expects academic bloggers to support academic blogging!

May I also say congratulations on the Tufts job. I hope you like the Boston area.

posted by: Rebecca on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

Mr. W Drezner, you are still a thoughtful, insightful, enlightening and reasonable fellow who does the principled conservative/libertarian cause justice. It's not too late to save your soul and withdraw from the cartoon, gag inducing, anti-intellectual, shrill faux-populist dreck that is the 'Pajamas Media' collective.

posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

"Mr. W Drezner, you are still a thoughtful, insightful, enlightening and reasonable fellow"

Yes I'm sure Dan is all of the above and doubtless he would be missed if he withdrew from the "cartoon, gag inducing, anti-intellectual, shrill faux-populist dreck that is the 'Pajamas Media' collective" (whatever that means).

Actually I happen to think that being overly academic and intellectual is far from an asset in terms of engaging the political challenges we face today. In a world in which opinion is becoming increasingly polarized, and on a path that is leading with a remorsless sense of the inevitable, to confrontation (whether we high minded philosophical types like it or not), there is a merit in taking sides and stating it without nuance. This is still a world made up of winners and losers and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Much of the chat that goes on here and on blogs of a similar type, is really a fairly esoteric intellectual exercise by any standard that takes Homer Simpson into account. Sure, it doesn't offend anyone and leaves itself open to speculation etc, but this type of thinking is often abstract and at one or two (possibly three) removes from the forces that actually determine the course of history. Those forces are a lot more visceral and dogmatic than the nuanced voices in here, and anti-intellectual and philistine though it may be to say it ... in the end those nasty, partisan voices of the less degreed will always beat out the best efforts of esoteric pundits. It's a nasty old world out there folks.

So, when I come across insufferably snooty comments that laud academia and ivy league chat-world above the world of politics red-in-tooth-and-claw, it's hard not to smile. The irony is that the academics fervently believe they have the answers - witness the loud baying and snorting that went on in the Philosophical Society at Trinity College Dublin recently, as bright eyed academic twits scewered America and lauded jihad! The next debate I believe will ask the assembled to consider whether or not militant Islamism isn't in a fact a fair enough response to American power.

This type of posturing brings out the Rumsfield in me, because you know that in the final analysis all of the sound and fury in academia signifies nothing - well not nothing, that's being unfair - slaps on the back and a round of "for he's a jolly good fellow"!

Having said that, I think it's pretty gutsy for Dan to run a blog, given that blogs are often viewed askance by ivory tower denizens. However none of this is going get in the way of the beast slouching toward Jerusalem. I'm pretty sure even W.B.Yeats would agree with that.

posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

...in the end those nasty, partisan voices of the less degreed will always beat out the best efforts of esoteric pundits. It's a nasty old world out there folks.

It is, but voices like Dan's are still more worthwhile to listen to than the partisan voices. That more people listen to the partisan ones doesn't affect this. It's just a sad effect of the fact that too many people view politics as a game to be won instead of a problem-solving process (and it seems to me that most of academia is no different).

posted by: fling93 on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

I am hopeful your experience with Open Sores won't be too painful. Another title for this post may have been, "Yo Chicago, Becca sk00lz jO0. Y0u is teh suxX0rz!"

posted by: jerry on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

fling93 - I agree with you. The voices on here are much more worthwhile.

I should stress that my above remarks relate more to positioning on international affairs, and not to issues such as abortion, gay rights, Patriot Act provisions and other debates that relate to individual freedoms.

posted by: Aidan Maconachy on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]


Sorry to see that Burke doesn't understand the situation. It is not about commenting--that was a cover gloss put on the issue by the libellant.

It is about libel. Think of it. If any loose cannon lurking in the shadows of a blog can jump out, proclaim himself an authority and make libelous comments to a person's supervisors (especially a grad student nearing the end of a PhD) that is a serious matter. The libellant must be censured and all support for the libel must be corrected.

The blogger that supports, adds to the libel and publishes the it is also responsible. Think for one moment of the consequences.

Is this a typical situation? No. It is as if a former grad student of yours published on the internet that you had made inappropriate advances while using a pseudonym of her own.

Libel Dan, plain and simple. The fact that a "blog" has anything to do with this is the glaze of novelty that prevents many from seeing the the situation with the clarity they ought.

Blogs are nothing more than a form of mass communication. BTW, I didn't notice any "moonbats only" warning signs on the blog and I am certainly not the only one to have ever made an argument their (takes at least two to argue). Of course, this same individual made an argument on my blog on a more flammable issue. Wouldn't it be a bit silly to claim that she violated "community/clubhouse rules".

What is this? Kindergarten? Tim should have contacted me before writing such an ignorant piece. That's poor scholarship on his part--and poor journalism. No wonder bloggers are seen as hacks.

posted by: Paul Deignan on 11.15.05 at 10:31 AM [permalink]

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