Friday, February 29, 2008
Responding to Foggy Bloggom
In latest issue of The National Interest, I have a small response to David Frum's "Foggy Bloggom" essay (see my initial reaction here) in which point out a few empirical problems with Frum's essay:
In his essay, Frum suggests that bloggers are pretty much the opposite of the foreign-policy community, which insists upon formal credentials, either academic or bureaucratic. It is puzzling, then, that the first four bloggers quoted in Frums essay possess the very credentials that the foreign-policy community extols. Duncan Atrios Black holds a PhD in economics from an Ivy League institution. Matthew Yglesias is a Harvard graduate writing for the Atlantic. Steven Clemons is the director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. Glenn Greenwald is a Salon columnist and a partner in a DC law firm. Pajama-wearing stereotypes to the contrary, most influential bloggers possess the elite credentials necessary to crack the foreign-policy community.Read he whole thing -- Megan McArdle has a response letter as well.
Publicly defending the credentials of Atrios, Matt Yglesias, Glenn Greenwald and Steve Clemons leaves me in a grumpy mood, so blogging will be light for the rest of the day.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The netroots vs. the foreign policy community... sort of
My name is David Frum, and I am a blogger. Every day I post some hundreds of words of commentary at the National Review websiteoften (to fulfill the cliché) while still wearing my pajamas. But I am also a proud, suit-wearing member of the foreign-policy community, with my very own office in a think tank to prove it.You can imagine the response this is going to generate.
I'll have more to say about this later, but for now I'd make two points. First, if the netroots can get past their own spittle, they will see the grace note Frum closes his essay with:
[T]he spread of education and the improvement of communications have raised the level of debate. The populist protesters of 2007 are far more informed and far more sophisticated than their predecessors of 1973, who were in turn a major improvement over those of 1950, 1935 and 1920. And the foreign-policy community that guided U.S. foreign affairs in the 1990s was a much larger and more diverse group than the corresponding elites that wielded power in the quiet days of the 1950s, who were in turn a less cloistered club than that of the 1920s.Second, contra Frum's essay, there's really a three-way debate going on, between netroots activists, neoconservatives, and foreign policy experts -- and part of the debate is whether the latter two groups are really fused into one.
More on this later. For now, comment away!
UPDATE: On the other hand, it's not like progressives aren't capable of netroot criticism. Consider this statement from a press release I was sent:
"In this age of blogs, bumper stickers, and soundbites, we made a bet that there was still a need and place for the kind of deep, considered thinking about serious issues that our journal has produced, " said Andrei Cherny, co-editor and co-founder of Democracy. "This award shows that a DailyKos may have its place, but a quarterly journal of ideas can make a real impact in the 21st century."
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Blackmail plays no role whatsoever in this post
All readers of this blog would make my life considerably easier if you were to click over to the Best Podcast category for the 2007 Weblog Awards and voted for EconTalk.
That is all.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
My all-time top five blog posts
Brad DeLong nominates his top five weblog posts ever, and is gracious enough to include this post among them.
This got me to thinking about Matt Yglesias' initial point -- there are so many newcomers to the blogosphere that, "the aggregate audience for blog commentary is enormously larger than it was a few years ago, so it's quite possible that there are people reading this blog right now who have never heard of of the classic[s]..."
So, without further ado, here are my top five, in chronological order:
1) Jacob Levy, "Political Theory and Political Philosophy."Longtime readers are warmly encouraged to proffer their faves in the comments.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Gonna be a fun hotel jihad
Note to self: never, ever deny Megan McArdle a bed.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
For every op-ed action, there is an out-of-proportion blogosphere reaction
Intentionally or not, Roger Cohen has some fun with the netroots in his New York Times column today:
A few years back, at the height of the jingoistic post-9/11 wave, the dirtiest word in the American political lexicon was liberal. Everyone from President Bush to Ann Coulter was using it to denote wimplike, Volvo-driving softies too spineless for dangerous times and too given to speaking French....This has prompted some acerbic replies. Here's one example:
I assure you, we liberals are smart enough to know that [Paul] Berman is not Wolfowitz. No one, except for you, Berman, and other liberal hawks is confused about this (and Feith, but he's confused about everything). Certainly your critics aren't, because if they were, you'd give an example, and you don't....Meanwhile, Yglesias doesn't seem thrilled with being quoted in the New York Times:
I'm not sure if I'm meant to be included within the scope of those nameless Jew-haters who appear to be criticizing an ideological movement of the American right while actually criticizing a shadowy Zionist conspiracy, but if you're interested in the post from which Cohen drew those quotations, it's here and you'll see that neither Israel nor Zionism actually comes up.
Um... OK, a few things:
1) Seriously, how do netroots types attain this level of cognitive dissonance? Perhaps
Friday, September 28, 2007
Blogging scholarship available
The Daniel Kovach Scholarship Foundation is giving away $10,000 to a blogger this year:
Do you maintain a weblog and attend college? Would you like $10,000 to help pay for books, tuition, or other living costs? If so, read on.Go check it out. And I suspect they're more reliable than other scholarship programs.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Your must-read sentence for today
Garance Franke-Ruta, "Fred Thompson vs. Teh Sexy":
[T]he idea that Thompson is some kind of swoon-inducing example of mature masculinity strikes me as a classic example of how straight men are completely unable to assess each others visual appeal.Be sure to check out the entire post -- there are useful visual aids.
Monday, September 10, 2007
We have met the Internet and it is us
In a New York Times story about Second Life, Shira Boss notes familiar parallels between the real and the virtual:
When people are given the opportunity to create a fantasy world, they can and do defy the laws of gravity (you can fly in Second Life), but not of economics or human nature. Players in this digital, global game dont have to work, but many do. They dont need to change clothes, fix their hair, or buy and furnish a home, but many do. They dont need to have drinks in their hands at the virtual bar, but they buy cocktails anyway, just to look right, to feel comfortable.I'd say that last quote says more about Yee than about the people he's wailing about. That said, OxBlog's Taylor Owen has a decent answer:
One thing is becoming increasingly clear though, "second life" is a misnomer. The internet is not an alternative to life, it is life. It is us, in all our complexity, madness and brilliance, out in the open for all to see, critique and engage.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Children under 17 must read this blog accompanied by an adult
So much for this being a family blog:
Hat tip: that unspeakably dirty Opinio Juris blog.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
In your face, Milwaukee!!
In the Boston Globe, Chris Reidy reports that Boston is a good fit for your humble blogger:
Boston has long been viewed as the land of the bean and the cod -- and now the Hub may also be the land of the blog.Another possibility: east coast cities like Boston and Philly have more people who find time to blog while goofing off at their place of work.
[Which is something you never do, right?--ed. Uh... right!!]
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Name this blog phenomenon!
Apparently the Encyclopedia Brittanica now has a blog. Michael Gorman is using it to harumph at the myriad ways in which the Internet has destroyed all that is great and good in scholarship and high culture. His first post opens with "The life of the mind in our society suffers, in many ways, from an increase in credulity and an associated flight from expertise." You get the drift -- this is not the first time Gorman has done this.
Over at Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee critiques Gorman's critique. He closes with this point:
What really bothers the neo-Luddite quasi-Mandarin is not the rise of digitality, as such. The problem actually comes from the diminished sacredness of authority, as Edward Shils once put it, the reduction in the awe it evokes and in the charisma attributed to it.Plowing similar ground, Henry Farrell asks:
I can see why the Encyclopedia Britannica has an urgent interest in pushing this line, but I dont understand why the intellectual standards of argument among its appointed critics is so low (and they arent an aberration; I understand that theyve made somewhat of an effort to publicize these pieces and get them talked about).To answer Farrell's question, you need to recognize the phenomenon of Bigthink Online Criticism (BOC), which proceeds as follows:
1) Pre-existing cultural institution finds itself under threat of being ignored/devalued/losing cultural cachet in relation to online substitutes;I humbly request my readers to name this gambit.
UPDATE: Brittanica's Tom Panelas e-mails the following:
If nothing else you should be aware of the fact that Gorman's posts are part of a larger forum on the Web 2.0 movement generally, and that it includes people who disagree sharply with him, such as Clay Shirky, danah boyd, and Matthew Battles, as well as others who disagree with him by degree, such as Nicholas Carr. If you and Henry think Britannica is "pushing a line" by publishing Gorman's opinions under his name on our blog, it follows then that we are also pushing the lines of these other people. Since Clay Shirky's posts, among other things, have some strong criticisms of Britannica, we are therefore pushing criticism of ourselves. What our motives for this might be Ill leave it to you to divine, but you might consider an alternative explanation: that were simply having a debate among people with different views.
Friday, June 15, 2007
The massive disincentive to blog about Israel/Palestine
The following is a typical e-mail I've received in the wake of posting about Norman Finkelstein:
Anyone questioning the intellectual scholarship of Mr. Finkelstein really needs help. to simply say that he is accomplished does not do service to his record of superior scholarship which is there for everyone to see. Were he not a critic of Zionism he would be feted from on high for his academic achievements. I was not surprised that a Catholic Priest made a mealy mouth decision not to grant tenure on such a political decision and then lied in my opinion making matters even more suspicious by saying that ouside influence had no...who makes up these lies? Father H.'s phone lines are still blazing with threats from ADL Mr. D., Foxman, et.al. considering the Blackmail that Zionism has put on the Catholic Church for their so-called non assistance to the Jews in peril and their perceived coziness with the Nazis during the second W.W. However the Zionist have no quarter from which to truly attack Finkelstein on and they are now in helter skelter mode drunkenly flailing at any thing that Finkelsteins, ala J. Carter. Finally for the record and for sometime now ANTI-SEMITISM has not intimidated the investigators or human beings from observing what Israel is doing in Palestine and condemning them for what it is, genocide. a legitimate personage has "pulled the covers" off that cat(Zionism/Racism)and Zionist apologist are schreeeching to high heaven at being exposed. Dan's bullshit piece about Finkelstein is just another attempt at cover. he admits that he dosen't know what he's talking about when it comes to Finkelstein. I suspect that he really does but has no response to the truth thats printable. If he believed that Finkelstein got a raw deal then he should have stated that instead of listing all the negatives in his text about Finkelstein which makes Dan suspect to the reader. Israels murderous policy of theft of land,lies,targeted killings,walls, racist highways,killing of international observers,and unjust occupation against the Palestinian(short list) People is an international crime in the exact same way that the German Administration under Adolph Hitler and what he did to European Jewry was a crime. Liars such as Dershowitz and loonies such as David Horowitz only expose the Israeli desperate attempt to promote transparent false propaganda. The arrogance of how one should criticize newish people what words one can say and not say is a first in the history of mankind and will not stand. And now comes Dan, with a kinder gentler "objective" detachment The People of the world are united in their condemnation of Zionist blackmail by accusatory designation and use of the term anti-semitism to try and stop the debate concerning the Palestinian genocide committed by Israel since 1948 and continuing. The truth will be told whether Zionist like the way it is told to them or not. The world must unite to bring all the mass killers from the U.S. and Israel to the world court of Justice for their mortal sins against humanity.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Blogging as an intervening variable for stupidity
Jonathan Saltzman has a front-pager in the Boston Globe about an unusual court case in which blogging factored into the denouement:
It was a Perry Mason moment updated for the Internet age.Saltzman suggests that thiscase is indicative of how blogs can impact, you know, real life. And there's a grain of truth to this charge. Reading on, however, one begins to wonder if blogs are not the cause per se, but rather one of many enablers for people with poor impulse control:
Lindeman, a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, is board-certified in general pediatrics and pediatric pulmonary medicine, according to the Natick Pediatrics website.So, lessons learned:
1) If you're a defendant in a court case, try not to blog about it;More blog reaction from Suburban Guerilla, Michael Froomkin, and HubBlog.
[Might there be more of a correlation than you're letting on? Perhaps people with poor impulse control are more likely to blog?--ed. There's something to this, but blogs are merely one of many new forms of personal expression available to people. If the blog is not the outlet, perhaps the MySpace page, or the podcast, or the YouTube moment will be. Still, I leave this possibility to commenters -- who clearly have no problems with impulse control.]
Monday, May 21, 2007
Name this law!
Let me put this bluntly, in language even a busy blogger can understand: Criticism and its humble cousin, reviewing is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object). It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author's (or filmmaker's or painter's) entire body of work, among other qualities.Mark Kleiman does the public service of critiquing Schickel's critique. In the process, he names a law that I had heretofore simple called the Law of Crap:
All of this reminds me of Sturgeon's Law, named for the great SF writer Theodore Sturgeon, who was supposedly accosted at a Greenwich Village literary party by someone who said to him (I'm quoting from memory), "Sturgeon, how can you stand to publish in those science fiction magazines? Ninety-five percent of the stuff in them is crap." To which Sturgeon calmly replied, "Ninety-five percent of everything is crap."That said, I do find it extremely ironic that Schickel's essay -- essentially a critique of the literary blogosphere -- fails to follow its own dictum. His piece provides zero evidence that he has either the training or the experience to perform this critical task (this is not to say Schickel is a bad film critic; on blogs, however, he is clearly a victim of Sturgeon's Law).
There's a small part of me that wishes media critics would abide by Schickel's stringent criteria before tackling the blogosphere, as it would make posts like this irrelevant. However, as Matthew Yglesias points out, this is not a likely outcome:
Strident blog-haters seem to me to mostly discover blogs by reading a random sample of blogs that have recent posted hostile things about something the discoverer wrote. Naturally, one's tendency is to find such fare uncongenial, and even if you richly deserve the criticism the odds favor many of your critics being genuinely not worth reading. Under the circumstances, it's easy to convince yourself that the whole thing deserves to be tuned out. This, though, is obviously the wrong way to go about things. One doesn't learn the day's news by looking at a random assortment of "newspaper articles" drawn from wherever; as with anything, you need to know what you're doing for it to be worthwhile.Indeed.
[What's the deal with this post title?--ed. Here's a blog law that's worth naming: the phenomenon of reading something that warrants a blog post, procrastinating the actual writing, and then discovering that some other blogger has managed to post your precise feelings on the matter.]
Friday, May 18, 2007
This whole scholar-blogger thing... in Eph form!
Cathleen McCarthy has an article in the latest Williams Alumni Review about academics who blog. I'm profiled, along with Williams political science professors Marc Lynch and Sam Crane.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
The New York Times looks deep into my blogging soul
Natasha Singer has a story in the NYT Styles section about blogs critical of the beauty-industrial complex. This is the lead paragraph:
Most bloggers have never met a beauty product or treatment they didnt love. The fill their columns with wildly enthusiastic prose about the latest blush, the newest procedure or research that they laud as cutting-edge.This is just so true. Why, only yesterday James Joyner and I were getting facials and talking about how Glenn Reynolds was using this awesome new foundation that really brought out his cheekbones (but what is the deal with this fashion choice?).
Then it was off to a manny-peddy with Kevin Drum, who scored some cutting-edge Clinique products gratis because of his constant beauty blogging (though, man, could Drum be any bitchier about Andrew Sullivan's fashion choices?).
While we were waiting for our nails to dry, we regaled each other with the great Megan McArdle-Virginia Postrel blog feud over the best nail polish to wear when appearing on a Sunday morning talk show (let's face it, they're both just jealous of Laura McKenna's flaming red hair and Ann Althouse's age-defying skin cream).
Of course, my day was ruined when Jacob Levy came in to get some fancy-schmancy new chest waxing procedure. Whenever I bump into Jacob at the beauty parlor, he lords it over me how he has a named chair even though he's three years younger than me. It kills me that he looks ten years younger because of those killer highlights in his beard.
The New York Times: your infallible guide to the soul of the blogosphere.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Well, I'm glad that hiatus is over
After a short, four-year hiatus, Brink Lindsey is back and blogging. Go check him out.
Monday, April 9, 2007
It's just the 19th nervous breakdown about the blogosphere
Brad Stone has a front-page story in the New York Times about the the fact that the some people display bad manners in the blogosphere:
Is it too late to bring civility to the Web?You can take a peek at the proposed code of conduct by clicking here. Comment away there or here. I hereby predict it will go nowhere -- I'm certainly not going to be banning anonymous comments anytime soon.
The one fascinating thing about Stone's story is what's not in it. Despite endless complaints about rising partisanship in the blogosphere, no example was given of declining civility in the political blogosphere. That doesn't mean it's not happening, of course, but it's still surpring that Stone failed to offer up such an example.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Blogging vs. vlogging
The biggest difference between consuming vlogging, which I do rarely, and consuming blogging, which I do continually, is that you can get the compressed product of a great deal of time and thought on a blog, but not in a vlog. For example, if I spend six hours on a blog item, or even just one, that a reader can consume in five minutes, they are getting the benefits of all the time and effort I put into it. But a five minute vlog will most likely provide only my thoughts as they exist in real time, or perhaps even only a note of skepticism as conveyed by a raised eyebrow, and no articulated thoughts at all. Five minutes with a blog can yield you six hours with a mind, but five minutes with a vlog will usually get you five minutes with a mind, or, sometimes, a face. The overall number of thoughts consumers will imbibe per minute is much lower on vlogs than on blogs.I wouldn't disagree with Garance so much as suggest that she's leaving something out of the equation -- I suspect most people consume blogs very differently from vlogs. To consume a blog you actually need to read it, which implies that you've given it top priority among the things your conscious mind is processing at that moment. Vlogs, on the other hand, can be consumed more passively. Yes, you can watch your screen as a bloggingheads segment plays. And, certainly, there are small snippets of video that will command one's full attention. On the whole, however people will treat a vlog the same way they treat the television or the radio -- it can be on in the background while the consumer is consuming other things.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Score one point for Cass Sunstein
One of the arguments that Cass Sunstein makes in republic.com is that the Internet allows people to filter their information flows so that they buttress to their prior ideological beliefs. Blogs call this "cocooning." The extent to which this effect is more concentrated in online activity than offline activity is open to debate, but it's an interresting argument.
I believe Ann Althouse's divalog exchange with Garance Franke-Ruta on bloggingheads.tv qualifies as a data point for Sunstein's argument. Click here to see the video, in which I think it's safe to say that Ann gets angry.
That's not the main point of this post, however. Compare and contrast the comments on Ann's words and behavior at the bloggingheads site with the reactions at Althouse's blog post. Everyone watched the same video -- but the reactions are very, very different (on the backstory for what sparked this in the first place, click here).
[You're treading on veeeerrrry dangerous ground here!--ed. Oh, relax.]
UPDATE: In comments here, Althouse points out one source for this disparity in comments: "I moderate and delete really insulting comments on my blog. That's skewing that data." I hope it's not skewing it too much.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lots and lots of blog reactions -- and Franke-Ruta posts her take here. One additional note -- if you watch the video, I think it's clear that Garance was genuinely startled by Ann's anger. This has the effect of making Ann's outburst seem... disproportionate. In fairness to Althouse, however, it should be pointed out that when taping a bloggingheads segment, the participants cannot see each other. I suspect if Ann had been able to see Garance, her reaction might have been different.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
It's easy to get old in the blogosphere
I was somewhat bemused to see a whopping big advertisement on the back of the bus in front of me for The Hills Pundit Blog... It made me feel pretty weird; its a very different blogosphere to the one that I started off in (I suspect the disconnect for the real old-timers is even bigger).As for a real old-timer, there's Eugene "My Finger Is Well Off the Pulse of the Blogosphere" Volokh, who observes the lack of reaction to an op-ed he had penned:
I had expected there'd be more attention from various blogs and radio programs that often cover radical Islam and the law. I figured the case that my story had uncovered had it all: The First Amendment; jihadism; parental rights; child welfare. Yet I've had much less original posts yield much more interest among blogs and radio programs, especially conservative ones.My example of wondering whether the blogosphere has passed me by has been the kerfuffle involving two bloggers for John Edwards that was reported in the New York Times and Time this week.
For the record, my take is pretty much in accord wth this Obsidian Wings post, but that's not the point -- the point is that, as much as I used to care about these intersections between the blogosphere and the real world, I can't get worked up about this kind of thing anymore. Who cares about campaign bloggers? They are little more than good PR stylists.
If you don't believe me, check out this Amanda Marcotte post on Edwards' health plan -- turns out she's happy that Paul Krugman likes it. Well, blow me down!
Perhaps the old fogies in the blogosphere get that way because, well, we stop taking the whole megillah so seriously. And we can't take it seriously because, well, this isn't our primary means of employment and never will be.
Once the blogosphere is run by sufficient numbers of people who are paid to blog, us enlightened amateurs just look semi-pro.
UPDATE: Just when I think the blogosphere has passed me by, I get this e-mail:
On Jewcy's blog, the Daily Shvitz, we run a periodic feature called Movable Snipe, wherein two writers spend a week reading and tweaking or adulating five blogs of our choosing. The good news is, we've chosen your blog for this week... This means either valentines or vivisections, depending on how our Snipers react to your content and, well, general demeanor.ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe this is really a "lump of creativity" problem. Or it's a "hatred of phones" issue.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Back in the day, they didn't have blogging scholarships
Student-bloggers, take note -- there's now a Political Blogging Scholarship:
Do you maintain a political weblog and attend college? Would you like $2,000 to help pay for books, tuition, or other living costs? If so, read on.Click here to find out all the details. I do like this description of what the winner and losers get:
The Winner Gets:[The kids today, with their podcasts and their American Idol idolatry..... we didn't have blogging scholarships when we started out, did we?--ed] Yes, but they also don't have annoying editorial voices either.What Happens to the Losers? Concession Speech!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Separated at birth?
UPDATE: Attack of the killer Yglesias!!
Sunday, December 3, 2006
We've got blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, blog, spam, and blog
So I see that the second-most interesting article about blogs in the New York Times today got a lot of attention. That would be K. Daniel Glober's op-ed on the increased linkages between bloggers and political candidates:
The Netroots. People Power. Crashing the Gate. The lingo of liberal Web bloggers bespeaks contempt for the political establishment. The same disdain is apparent among many bloggers on the right, who argued passionately for a change in the slate of House Republican leaders and who wallowed in woe-is-the-party pity when the establishment ignored them.As William Beutler points out, this op-ed has not had the best of reactions in the blogosphere -- in large part because the piece could give the impression that some campaign bloggers did not act up to the Times' ethical standards.
Me,I just yawned, and recalled what I wrote about this six months ago:
What's going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It's politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers... have persistently said that they and theirs -- a.k.a., the netroots -- are not about politics as usual.Now, the most interesting story about blogs in the NYT today was Clive Thompson's cover story in the magazine about how blogs and wikis could prove useful structures for intelligence analysis:
[T]hroughout the intelligence community, spies are beginning to wonder why their technology has fallen so far behind and talk among themselves about how to catch up. Some of the countrys most senior intelligence thinkers have joined the discussion, and surprisingly, many of them believe the answer may lie in the interactive tools the worlds teenagers are using to pass around YouTube videos and bicker online about their favorite bands. Billions of dollars worth of ultrasecret data networks couldnt help spies piece together the clues to the worst terrorist plot ever. So perhaps, they argue, it s time to try something radically different. Could blogs and wikis prevent the next 9/11?....Clearly there are downsides as well, and Thompson discusses most of them in the story.
Monday, November 6, 2006
Does Google-bombing matter for elections?
Tom Zeller's column in the New York Times today focuses on liberal efforts to Google-bomb vulnerable Republican candidates. Zeller reports that the effort has been successful:
A GOOGLE bomb which some Web gurus have suggested is perhaps better called a link bomb, in that it affects most search engines has typically been thought of as something between a prank and a form of protest. The idea is to select a certain search term or phrase (borrowed time, for example), and then try to force a certain Web site (say, the Pentagons official Donald H. Rumsfeld profile) to appear at or near the top of a search engines results whenever that term is queried....The latest MyDD update suggests that the netroots have managed to push their preferred link (an unfavorable news story about the candidate in question) into the top 10 links for more than 50 candidates.
So, clearly, political Google-bombing has achieved its short-term goal of pushing particular stories into prominence.
That said, the Luddite in me remains convinced that this will actually have absolutely zero effect on the election. For this to work, you need to believe that undecideds are going to actively search for candidates on the web before making their vote, and in the process stumble across the unflattering story. This is possible in theory, but in practice my hunch is that the people more likely to use the Internet to acquire information on political candidates are more likely to have made their voting decisions already -- and hence the Google-bombing effect would be too late.
Or, to be more flip about it, James Joyner characterizes how these kinds of plans usually end:
Step Four: Sharks with lay-zers on their foreheads.Caveat: my analysis is predicated on an assumption that voters who use the Internet to access political information are more eager for that info, more politically committed, and therefore more likely to commit to a position earlier. I'll grant that there miight be eaknesses in this causal chain.
And, to be fair, a less stringent version of the Google-bomb hypothesis is that a few undecideds stumble across the Google-bombed story, and then e-mail it to everyone they know, creating a viral effect. This is the topic du jour in David Carr's NYT column:
Ken Avidor would not seem to constitute much of a threat to the Republican Party. A Minnesota graphic artist with no official political role, he is a self-described Luddite and a bit of a wonk with an interest in arcane transportation issues.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Maybe blogs and diplomacy don't mix too well
The chief United Nations envoy for Sudan has been kicked out of the country because of what he's said on his blog. Warren Hoge explains in the New York Times:
Sudans government ordered the chief United Nations envoy out of the country today, saying he was an enemy of the country and its armed forces.Here's the relevant section of Pronk's blog that raised the ire of the Sudanese government:
[The Sudanese Armed Forces] has lost two major battles, last month in Umm Sidir and this week in Karakaya. The losses seem to have been very high. Reports speak about hundreds of casualties in each of the two battles with many wounded and many taken as prisoner. The morale in the Government army in North Darfur has gone down. Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight. The Government has responded by directing more troops and equipment from elsewhere to the region and by mobilizing Arab militia. This is a dangerous development. Security Council Resolutions which forbid armed mobilization are being violated. The use of militia with ties with the Janjaweed recalls the events in 2003 and 2004. During that period of the conflict systematic militia attacks, supported or at least allowed by the SAF, led to atrocious crimes.I confess to mixed feelings about all of this.
On the one hand, it seems morally repugnant to blame Pronk for writing a blog that exposes Sudanese duplicity and moral depravity. Later in his story, Hoge observes, "commenting on the international campaign that has arisen to try to end the violence in Darfur, [Sudans president Omar Hassan al-Bashir] said, 'Those who made the publicity, who mobilized the people, invariably are Jewish organizations.'" And as the Independent points out: "Observers says Pronk's direct style may have been a contributing factor in naming him the UN envoy to Sudan. He is often credited with keeping the crisis there high on the international agenda." It certainly seems like diplomats are shooting their mouths off with increasing regularity these days.
And yet, I'm pretty sure that one of the primary jobs of a diplomat is not to needlessly piss off an actor who has a seat at the negotiation table. By blogging about such a sensitive matter, Pronk gift-wrapped the Sudanese an excuse to expel him and delay dealing with the United Nations Security Council. How does this help anyone in Darfur?
This is not an issue to which I've paid a great deal of attention, so I'm issuing a bleg: for those who have been keeping tabs on Darfur, was Plonk's blog post a necessary or counterproductive action?
There are certain jobs that would not seem to agree with blogging at all, and being a diplomat might be one of them.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Why Nancy Pelosi is the cure for all that ails us
1) Why everything Hugo Chavez touches turns to ashes (SIDE NOTE: How bad is Chavez's streak? He's losing to bloggers!!);Am I serious about Pelosi? You'll have to click and see!!
Among the exciting visual changes -- I move to a comfy chair and change my beverage of choice.
I might add that Professor Althouse, who is a generation older than I, looks about five years my junior in the video. No wonder she's constantly getting her picture taken for brochures.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
From now on, when you hear "Drezner," think of strength, security... and minty freshness!!
After three years of blogging, it's time to do a major rethink. With the blogging "market" increasingly crowded, the model of an eclectic, general interest blog is a less viable one. Perhaps more importantly, I'm just getting tired of the punditry style of blogging. I'm not enjoying writing that style as much; for that matter, I'm not enjoying reading other punditry blogs very much these days....I've always admired Bainbridge's blog, but this last sentence led to a Scrubs-like daydream:
BAINBRIDGE: So I'm thinking of doing more niche-blogging in business law and economics.Seriously, for me, half of the fun of this blog is that I can talk about anything that comes into my head. Any thoughts I had to branding the blog disappear when I flash back to some advice Eszter Hargittai once gave me when I was thinking about bringing in guest-bloggers, which went something like: "Your blog is an expression of your identity -- why would you want to dilute or confine it?"
On the other hand, maybe I'm not taking this seriously enough. Writing in to Bainbridge, Bruce Bartlett adds:
I know that there are many blogs I used to read regularly that I now seldom read. The growth of partisanship is part of the reason, but there has also been a decline in substantive discussion.... The reason is simple: its hard work to be substantive. After a few months of blogging, most bloggers simply use up their substantive knowledge and must either rehash old hash or venture into areas where their knowledge is lacking.To mildly disagree with Bruce two posts in a row, I don't think he's got the whole story. Sure, some blogs burn out and fade away, while others become pale imitations of what they once were. Rather than think of these kind of inexorable trends, however, I suspect that blogs, like much of life, are cyclical. Attentive readers can surely point to days or weeks where it's clear that blogging has not been at the top of my priority list. This doesn't mean that I'm fading away... it (hopefully) means I'm acquiring new forms of substantive knowledge that trickle down onto the blog. That or I'm tickling my children.
Blogging doesn't get old for me because the world stays interesting. Taxes on virtual reality? Hugo Chavez suffering yet another diplomatic reversal? Mel Gibson following the path I've laid before him? I'm there!!
That said, maybe I'm wrong. A (dangeous) question to readers: which blogs do you think started out great but have devolved?
Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Blogging's become respectable... what a drag
Looking at the top 10 most trafficked blogs, only DailyKos, Crooks and Liars, Michelle Malkin, and Instapundit started out as lone blogger-hobbyists. The other 6 (including The Huffington Post, The Corner, and Think Progress) are either planned business enterprises, outgrowths of existing MSM pubs, or online presences of otherwise established orgs. Many may have a romantic ideal of bloggers as loners mashing away at a keypad in their pajamas, but the biggest and best blogs all feature intelligent professionals, often with advanced degrees, commenting on issues at least tangentially related to their field of expertise. As these enterprises gain in influence and profitability, should we really be that surprised as they become more professional as well?As one of those intelligent professionals with advanced degrees, my only regret is that I'm going to have to hear endless laments about how blogging was so much better during the early years... when it was about the music.
The most blog-friendly country in Europe
Here's a question: blogs have had the greatest political impact in which country in Europe?
Answer after the jump....
According to the Financial Times' Martin Arnold, the answer is... France:
Next year's French presidential elections will be the first to take place since blogging caught the public imagination.Question to readers -- why France?
Friday, August 25, 2006
Thoughts on Iran and oil
Go check it out.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
New blogger on the scene!!
Iran's president has launched a Web log, using his first entry to recount his poor upbringing and ask visitors to the site if they think the United States and Israel want to start a new world war.Here's a link to Ahmadinejad's first post, which ends by confessing, "I will continue this topic later on as it took long in the beginning. From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler."
To which I can only say, as a fellow blogger, good God, yes.
The blog is worth checking out for Ahmadinejad's... interesting interpretation of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei's post-revolution strategy of political inclusion.
Surprisingly, Ahmadinejad's poll shows a bare majority disagreeing with the contention that "the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word (sic) war."
Monday, August 7, 2006
Faked Reuters photos -- open thread
Comment away on the Reuters decision to withdraw all photographs by a Lebanese freelancer because he doctored his photographs to make Israeli bombing damage appear worse than it actually was -- and the role the right-wing blogosphere played in this decision.
I confess to actual shock -- I thought this kind of thing only happened when O.J. Simpson was arrested.
Two more serious thoughts:
1) Is this the tip of the iceberg or merely an isolated incident? If the former, how much misperception does such photo doctoring create about the current conflict?
Friday, July 28, 2006
My diavlog debut
For months, nay, years, the hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com has begged yours truly to
Your humble blogger has finally made the plunge... on bloggingheads.tv. To see me debate Nonzero author Robert Wright on the Middle East, Doha, the clash of civilizations, "progressive realism," and sportswriting, click here.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Why oh why is the press so thick-headed about blogs?
I don't normally like to rant against the mainstream media, but their coverage of this Pew survey of bloggers borders on the bizarre.
The survey found that the overwhelming majority of people who blog do so for non-political reasons -- they function primarily as online personal diaries.
This would certainly be earth-shattering news -- if it was four years ago. Consider this Perseus report from the Paleolithic era of blogging -- October 2003:
When you say "blog" most people think of the most popular weblogs, which are often updated multiple times a day and which by definition have tens of thousands of daily readers. These make up the tip of a very deep iceberg: prominently visible, but not characteristic of the iceberg as a whole.While Pew might reached the conclusion that most bloggers are not political after using sophisticated polling techniques, this is not a new finding (see Mystery Pollster on the methodology). It's merely a confirmation of what prior, less well-funded studies have found.
Nevertheless, media outlets have framed the story in interesting ways. Consider the BBC:
Bloggers who say their writings are a form of journalism are in the minority, despite the hype, two surveys reveal.Or Information Week:
The majority of bloggers prefer to write about themselves and share their digital creations than to discuss politics or technology, a survey released Wednesday showed.Or Sci-Tech Today:
The media tends to focus on a small subset of well-known "A-list" sites that receive a high volume of visitors. These blogs tend to focus on politics or other hot button topics such as technology. For these bloggers, a blog is more than just a hobby, it is a job.Finally, there's Slate's Jack Shafer:
Pew's blogging masses couldn't be more different than the American A-listers. Most A-listers are men over 30; have published before; are in it primarily to change public opinions and not to share their experiences; know only a fraction of their readers; and don't conceal their identities....Shafer's story illustrates what has changed in the past three years, and it's not the blogosphere -- it's the mainstream media's fear of the blogosphere (which is one reason why blogs have been declared to be passé so many times this past year). If the Pew survey suggests that not all bloggers are Army-of-David wannabe journalists, then that's the angle that should be reported.
Now, I am resolutely not a blog triumphalist, and do not think that blogs will supplant mainstream media outlets. However, in the spirit of contrarianism, let me offer two cautionary warnings to the journalists out there who might be reassured by these numbers.
First, it doesn't matter if an overwhelming majority of blogs do not focus on politics and government -- what matters is that there are a huge number of blogs out there and a fraction of them do focus on matters of interest to political journalists. If the Pew survey is accurate, then eleven percent of twelve million bloggers -- more than 1.3 million Americans -- have blogs that focus on the politics. Most of them probably aren't that good -- but I could say the same of many newspapers as well. The point is, 1.3 million is still a pretty large number.
Second, as an A-list [No--ed.] B-list [No-ed.] C-list [In the interest of not embarrassing you further, I'l let it pass--ed.], it's worth remembering that what motivates bloggers changes over time. Most A-list bloggers, when they started their blogs, were also "primarily interested in creative, personal expression." The motivations can change once an audience starts to grow, however.
I eagerly await the Pew survey on commenters.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Pssst.... want to listen to a podcast?
Did the New York Times endanger national security by publicizing the existence of the US governments SWIFT program, designed to track the funding of international terrorists? Or was the news organization simply an agent of the publics right and need to know the actions of the US Government?You can hear my (muddled) take on this question in Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review, which I taped with Austin Bay, Eric Umansky, and La Shawn Barber. Other topic discussed include the Bus Uncle.
Monday, June 26, 2006
The blogosphere, R.I.P.--- wait, this sounds familiar
Less than six months ago I observed that many media outlets seemed to be burying the blogosphere. Maybe it's a cyclical thing, but blogs are being buried... again.
There was the whole TNR-Kos debate, but that's so last week. As an bizarre offshoot of that dogpile, there is Lee Siegel's badly written and badly reasoned rant over at TNR. Siegel says in his first post that "The blogosphere's fanaticism is, in many ways, the triumph of a lack of focus." Er, in my book, the one thing fanatics don't lack is focus. That's without trying to deconstruct the "fascism with a Microsoft face" metaphor. Siegel doesn't help matters in his follow-up post.
Whatever one thinks about the structure of the internet as a whole, it is becoming increasingly clear that the particular architecture of the blogosphere is the chief impediment to its becoming a place where new ideas can be deployed, tested, and developed. Take, for instance, the problem of comments.Jacobs has a point about the architecture -- though I would say that the spammers have feasted on the architecture much more than the trolls.
On the development of ideas, Jacobs is both right and wrong. Of course blogs are imperfect vehicles for the long-form development of ideas. However, they are a great place for the germination of ideas. Most of them might be bad ideas, but occasionally I'll come up with something in a blog post that ripens into something even better in a different format.
A final point, before I undoubtedly have to dredge up this topic six months from now. It it just me, or does much of the critical curdling towards the blogosphere evoke how intellectuals of the fifties turned against television? Elite critics went from praising the educational possibilities of the medium to complaining about the "vast wasteland" of television. Perhaps blogs, like TV, will never live up to the hype that was churned out in its technological infancy. However, no one today would think of bashing television as a medium when the variety of programming is so diverse.
Why, then, do critics fall into this trap when they talk about blogs?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Now the circle of co-optation is complete
Way back in August 2004, Henry Farrell and I wrote the following:
We predict that as blogs become a more established feature on the political landscape, politicians and other interested parties will become more adept at responding to them, and, where they believe it necessary, co-opting them. To the extent that blogs become more politically influential, we may expect them to become more directly integrated into politics as usual, losing some of their flavor of novelty and immediacy in the process.That pretty much sums up what's happening with the allegations of "blogola" -- excessive chumminess betweek Markos Moulitsas, Jerome Armstrong and whoever hires Armstrong as a political consultant.
For links on what's happening, see Mickey Kaus, James Joyner, NRO's Jim Geraghty, Ann Althouse, and Jason Zengerle at TNR's The Plank (this post about Kos' marketing power is particularly interesting). UPDATE: Thanks to Bob McManus for providing links to the left half of the blogosphere -- Ezra Klein, Max Sawicky, Stirling Newberry, Duncan Black, and Kos himself (see this Kos post on Zengerle's Plank posts as well).
Read all the links. What's going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It's politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers like Kos have persistently said that they and theirs -- a.k.a., the netroots -- are not about politics as usual.
Over time, however, that claim looks less and less viable. The question is whether bloggers like Kos find that their legions of readers are turned off by these kind of revelations, or whether they comfortably adjust into being middleweight power brokers.
UPDATE: Commenters seem to be very upset that I'm accusing Moulitsas and Armstrong of corruption. I find this puzzling since I specifically did not do that. All I'm saying is that as Armstrong and Moulitsas rub elbows with powerful Democrats on a repeated basis, it becomes tougher and tougher for them to play the role of independent outsiders without a stake in the system. As Markos himself points out:
I have friends that work or are closely allied with every single 2008 candidate. I have friends working in every single high-profile Senate race this fall. And at the DCCC, DSCC and DNC. Fact is, in this biz, I've made a s***load of great friends. And I won't tell them to f*** off because they work for a campaign. In fact, I ENCOURAGE my friends to work for campaigns. It's -- gasp! -- a good thing.Garance Franke-Ruta makes this same point in Tapped. In other words, the gates have been crashed.
This is pretty much what Henry and I predicted, and it's coming to fruition (and it's certainly not limited to the left half, either).
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Seth Mnookin has started up a blog on his web site that's worth checking out if you like the Boston Red Sox, baseball in general, and savvy media criticism.
UPDATE: In other blog news, Matthew Yglesias is clearly making a buck off of his blogging and discovers to his irritation that he has to pay the government some of it.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Your memorable phrase for today
[N]obody wants to see a forty year old woman licking salt off a guy's neck and coughing up big phlegm balls from the smokes.You'll have to click over to Laura McKenna to see it in context.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Who's the least trusted of them all?
BBC and Reuters commissioned a poll of 10 countries to find out how much media sources are trusted. One finding that was consistent across countries stood out:
National TV was the most trusted news source overall (trusted by 82%, with 16% not trusting it) - followed by national/regional newspapers (75% vs 19%), local newspapers (69% vs 23%), public radio (67% vs 18%), and international satellite TV (56% vs 19%). Internet blogs were the least trusted source (25% vs 23%) with one in two unable to say whether they trusted them.
Thursday, May 4, 2006
New bipartisan foreign policy blog
I'm very, very, very close to finishing some time-consuming copyediting, so posting will be light in the next 24 hours.
In the meantime, go check out the Partnership for a Secure America's new foreign policy blog, Across the Aisle. I don't know all of the contributors, but I know enough of them to have confidence in the quality of output.
I particularly like this post by Chip Andreae that carefully delimits the kind of bipartisanship the Partnership is talking about:
[I]n spite of the growing need for true and uniting leadership to emerge from Capitol Hill, we must be conscious enough of why we demand bipartisan efforts to reject the recent political phenomenon that occurred during the DP World deal: bipartisanship for its own sake.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Now the circle is almost complete....
I'm just gonna reprint this UPI report in its entirety and not say anything:
"Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker and "Jack & Bobby" writer Vanessa Taylor are developing a new HBO comedy based on "Washingtonienne."[You're really not going to say anything?--ed. Nothing.... except to ponder when Ana Marie Cox's novel will get optioned into a TV movie starring Alicia Witt. Then thecircle will be truly complete.]
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Virginia Postrel is my hero
And it's nice to see that her writing talents are also getting their due.
Friday, March 3, 2006
Most interesting sentence of the day
I havent encountered any awkward situations yet running around public bathrooms snapping photos, but I can imagine eventually I may get some curious glances.Eszter Hargittai at Crooked Timber. You'll have to click on the link to see her perfectly innocent explanation.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
David Ignatius makes me so mad!!!
David Ignatius' column in today's Washington Post echoes some recent speculation about why globalization hasn't led to the kind of moderate, secular modernization predicted by the likes of Tom Friedman and other Davos men:
So why does the world feel so chaotic? Why is there a growing sense that, as Francis Fukuyama put it in a provocative essay in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, "More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalization and -- yes, unfortunately -- terrorism"?....Wait a minute -- I thought blogs were dead. How can they be passe and a conduit for rage? Huh? HUH??!!
What the f@#$ does Ignatius know about blogs???!!! He's just a card-carrying member of the ELITE MAINSTREAM MEDIA!! ATTICA!!! ATTICA!!!!!
OK, got that out of my system.
I see the point that Ignatius and Fukuyama are trying to make -- that democratization creates real short-term problems by allowing radicals to take over governments. However, as I've said repeatedly, unless radical or revolutionary groups succeed at making the trains run on time, these groups (and blogs) become discredited and illegitimate over time. More generally:
[I]lliberal democracies are [not] necessarily better for world politics than slowly reforming authoritarian states are. But they are not necessarily worse, either. It's more a question of timing -- illiberal states that become democratic are more likely to have problems sooner rather than later, while authoritarian states that are slowly democratizing are likely to have problems later rather than sooner.Fukuyama and Ignatius are correct to raise the short-term problems that come with globalization and democratization -- but they're wrong not to stress the long-term advantages that come along as well.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The blogosphere, R.I.P. (2002-2006)
Well, it's time for me to pack it in -- blogs are finished, kaput, history.
How do I know this? Why, I've been reading what the media has said about it this month. They're doomed economically -- Slate's Daniel Gross says, "as businesses, blogs may have peaked. There are troubling signsakin to the 1999 warnings about the Internet bubblethat suggest blogs have just hit their top."
Gross is just following up on a New York cover story by Clive Thompson, in which it turns out that it's difficult to eke out a living from blogging:
By all appearances, the blog boom is the most democratized revolution in media ever. Starting a blog is ridiculously cheap; indeed, blogging software and hosting can be had for free online. There are also easy-to-use ad services that, for a small fee, will place advertisements from major corporations on blogs, then mail the blogger his profits. Blogging, therefore, should be the purest meritocracy there is. It doesnt matter if youre a nobody from the sticks or a well-connected Harvard grad. If you launch a witty blog in a sexy niche, if youre good at scrounging for news nuggets, and if youre dedicated enough to post around the clockwell, theres nothing separating you from the big successful bloggers, right? I can do that.Read the whole thing -- there's some interesting confusion by either Thompson or Clay Shirky between power law distributions and cascade effects.
[OK, so maybe blogs can't rake in the big bucks -- they're still fun, right? They're a political force, right?--ed.] No, I'm afraid that the media has determined that neither assertion is true. The Financial Times' Trevor Butterworth says that blogs are culturally passé:
[A]s with any revolution, we must ask whether we are being sold a naked emperor. Is blogging really an information revolution? Is it about to drive the mainstream news media into oblivion? Or is it just another crock of virtual gold - a meretricious equivalent of all those noisy internet start-ups that were going to build a brave new economy a few years ago?Butterworth is so convinced the blogosphere is passé, he's... er... set up a blog to handle the feedback.
Similarly, over at AlterNet, Lackshmi Cahudhry despairs about the inequality, corporatization, and general whiteness of the blogosphere:
As blogs have grown in popularity -- at the rate of more than one new blog per second -- they've begun to lose their vanguard edge. The very institutions that political bloggers often criticize have begun to adopt the platform, with corporate executives, media personalities, porn stars, lawyers and PR strategists all jumping into the fray. That may be why Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the founder and primary voice of Daily Kos, thinks the word "blog" is beginning to outlive its usefulness. "A blog is merely a publishing tool, and like a tool, it can be used in any number of ways," he says....So everyone go home -- blog are economically unviable, culturally spent, politically unequal, and in the end amount to nothing more than the lame afterbirth of the dot-com boom and bust....
Hey, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to go home. Ah, maybe you clicked through to see if, perchance, I was being sarcastic.
Well, yes and no. You can condense all the linked stories into a few central themes:
1) Not a lot of people will make a living off of blogging;Well, all of this is very original. Oh, wait....
All of these articles do a decent job of puncturing the "blog triumphalist balloon" -- it's just that a lot of bloggers have been stomping on that balloon for years now. The key question to ask about blogs is the counterfactual -- do any of these writers truly believe that the information ecosystem would be more democratic, more entrepreneurial, or more culturally interesting if blogs did not exist?
In this way, these stories are correct in asserting that blogs are a synecdoche for the Internet as a whole -- they don't quite live up to the hype, but then again, the hype is so damn impressive that even if they live up to some of it, we should be impressed.
Hey, mainstream media types, I'll cut you a deal -- I will never say that the blogosphere is a harbinger of egalitarian democracy if you acknowledge that blogs, flawed though they may be, nudge the information ecosystem in many constructive ways.
Now, seriously, go home.
Sunday, February 5, 2006
A correction and apology to Tom Friedman
Several elements of this Davos Diary were picked up and run in other places, which is gratifying. However, in one instance, it is embarassing. In the item on the panel on Middle East nuclear proliferation chaired by Tom Friedman of the New York Times, it suggests that Friedman made a statement that suggested that none of the nations in the area should have nuclear weapons and that this was a source of embarassment re: Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf, who was on the panel and whose nation does. Had the entry stated that it was Afghanistan's President Karzai who made the statement, it would have been accurate. That is what I intended to write and what my brain actually recalls having written. Being as how it was the truth and all. If it came out of my head otherwise or was somehow altered along the way, I apologize. Readers of the blog may recall I sustained several blows to the head along the way and anything is possible. Suffice it to say, Friedman ran the panel wonderfully with a light and informed touch and Karzai's misstatement was humorous and even he responded to his error with somewhat more grace than I have responded to this one.Apologies to Friedman for propagating the original error.
Monday, January 30, 2006
What is it that blogs do?
There's been another spasm of output on whether the blogosphere does anything better or different than the mediasphere.
Arnold Kiling believes that blogs function well as a distributor of information across the ideological spectrum:
Certain information is more valuable to me than it is to others. We can represent this concept by thinking of everyone as being located at different points on a circle. The points closest to you in the circle are people with similar interests. They might be workers in nearby cubicles, or they could be people located at a great physical distance but working in the same field.Meanwhile, Henry Farrell thinks the importance of blogs is not just as a provider of information, but as part of a conversation -- a fact that journalists have yet to comprehend:
The point is that they have very different and clashing notions of where authority and responsibility come from. Each newspaper article has the form of a discrete statement, which is supposed to be as authoritative as possible on its own ground. Each blogpost has the form of an intervention in an ongoing conversation the bloggers authority rests in part on her willingness to respond to others and engage in argument with them. A blogger who doesnt respond to good counter-arguments is being irresponsible (of course many bloggers are irresponsible in this way; there isnt much in the way of formal policing of this norm). These forms of authority are difficult to reconcile with each other, because the latter in large part undermines the former. If journalists start systematically responding to their critics, and getting drawn into conversations about whether or not they were right when they made a particular claim, then theyre effectively admitting that the articles they have written arent all that authoritative in the first place. Theyre subject to debate and to revision. Thus, in part, the tendency for journalists like Jack Shafer to dismiss criticism from bloggers and their commenters as organized riots and lynch mobs. Its a fundamental threat to their notions of where journalistic authority comes from.Shafer, meanwhile, has a column in Slate suggesting that while journalists might not get the conversational aspect of bloggers, they do recognize the existential threat posed by the blogosphere:
Like the long-gone typesetters, today's newspaper guild members believe that their job is somehow their "property," and that no amateur can step in to perform their difficult and arduous tasks. On one level, they're right. John Q. Blogger can't fly to Baghdad or Bosnia and do the work of a John F. Burns. But what a lot of guild members miss is that not everybody wants to read John F. Burns, not everybody who wants to read about Baghdad is going to demand coverage of the quality he produces, and not everybody wants Baghdad coverage, period. If you loosely define journalism as words and graphics about current events deliverable on tight deadline to a mass audience, the price of entry into the craft has dropped to a few hundred dollars. Hell, I can remember renting an IBM Selectric for $100 a month in the late 1970s just to make my freelance articles look more "professional" to my editors.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Drezner's Third Law of Blog Motion
[With profuse apologies to Sir Isaac Newton--ed.]
UPDATE: In the interest of preventing a similar kind of reaction to this blog, do check out this post as well.
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
I'll be on the radio tonight
From 9-11 this evening I'll be one of the guests on Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg on WGN Radio this evening. The other guests will be the lovely and talented Eszter Hargittai and fellow U of C blogger Sean Carroll from Cosmic Variance.
[So whatcha gonna talk about?--ed. According to Milt's blog, "[they] will discuss their forays into blogging, examine blogs as a cultural phenomenon, and relate how their blogs have influenced their life and our world." Draw your own conclusions. UPDATE: Sean's conclusions: "the view of the blogosphere we'll be offering will doubtless be narrow and unrepresentative, but fascinating nonetheless." How can you pass that up?]
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Who needs experts?
Louis Menand has a glowing review in the New Yorker of Philip Tetlock's latest opus, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?. Some highlights:
It is the somewhat gratifying lesson of Philip Tetlocks new book... that people who make prediction their businesspeople who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtablesare no better than the rest of us. When theyre wrong, theyre rarely held accountable, and they rarely admit it, either. They insist that they were just off on timing, or blindsided by an improbable event, or almost right, or wrong for the right reasons. They have the same repertoire of self-justifications that everyone has, and are no more inclined than anyone else to revise their beliefs about the way the world works, or ought to work, just because they made a mistake. No one is paying you for your gratuitous opinions about other people, but the experts are being paid, and Tetlock claims that the better known and more frequently quoted they are, the less reliable their guesses about the future are likely to be. The accuracy of an experts predictions actually has an inverse relationship to his or her self-confidence, renown, and, beyond a certain point, depth of knowledge. People who follow current events by reading the papers and newsmagazines regularly can guess what is likely to happen about as accurately as the specialists whom the papers quote. Our system of expertise is completely inside out: it rewards bad judgments over good ones....There are intriguing implications for understanding world politics that deserves a post of their own, but suffice it to say that Tetlock's findings will probably warm the cockles of every political blogger out there.
Friday, November 18, 2005
So I see there's an article in Slate....
You know you've reached a new and bizarre degree of "fame" when you read an article that features you prominently.... even though you were never contacted by the author prior to publication.
I'm talking about Robert Boynton's article in Slate on the perils and promise of scholar-bloggers. A few corrections and clarifications for those wandering over here from that story.
First, let me stress yet again that I have never said that the blog cost me tenure. My information on this front is imperfect, but rest assured that whenever more than twenty senior academics are meeting about anything, there are myriad, obscure, and frequently bizarre factors involved in any decision. Click here for more about that.
Second, although it's a great ending for Boynton's essay, the Fletcher School did not find out about my tenure denial from the blog. That said, a lot of other places did find out that way, and I did get a very healthy number of queries through the blog.
Third, I agree with Eric Alterman that having three Stanford degrees and a forthcoming Princeton University Press book is "good, but hardly sufficient" for tenure at the University of Chicago. In my own defense, though, I have a wee bit more than that under my scholarly belt.
I am grateful to Boynton for the kind words in this paragraph:
Boynton goes on to point out the basic conundrum of how to count blogging -- even if the output is high quality, what is the external and replicable measurement through which this is assessed?
Should blogging count in some way? I don't know. I think my blogging makes me a better researcher. If I'm right, it has its own rewards. And I don't think that any blog post approximates a review article in any way -- if they did, they would be a lot less interesting!Let me suggest that there are two issues that are conflated in the story. First, there is the idea of a blog as an output for public discourse, a la op-eds and the like. On that score, blogging counts as a form of service and not much else.
Second, there is the idea that academic blogs facilitate better scholarship by encouraging online interactions about research ideas. Take, for example, this exchange between Marc Lynch, myself, and others about whether international relations theory is slighting the study of Al Qaeda, or this exchange between Erik Gartzke and R.J. Rummel about the root causes of the liberal democratic capitalist peace. Even better, the private responses I received to a post on trade-related intellectual property rights facilitated my own research efforts in that area. This sort of thing happens off-line as well, but the blog format is exceedingly well-suited for enhancing and expanding this kind of interaction. In this sense, blogs may very well supplant the old practice of having exchanges of letters in journals.
Should it count for anything? As Hawks points out, it should lead to better research anyway, which should get recognized by the traditional standards.
So I'm pretty sure that the contribution of blogs to academic output can be measured using pre-existing standards -- with one exception and one caveat. The exception is that maybe the whole of an academic blog is greater than the sum of its parts. Precisely because a blog can contribute to public discourse, scholarly research, and teaching pedagogy at the same time, it encourages a greater mkix of ideas and information than would otherwise be possible. Whether this is true I will leave for the commenters.
The caveat is that even if blogging can be counted via conventional means, there is no indication that academic units will do so. As I've said before, academics are a very conservative bunch in many ways, so the idea that blogs should count for a plus will take a long time to seep in. For the present moment, my hope is that blogs do not count against you.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
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:
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.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Maybe AOL could buy me a Prius... coated in platinum
Here's what I found out:
Woo-hoo!! Priuses for everyone!! I'm richer than the New York Times!!
[Er, this site suggests that your blog's actual annual value is really closer to $4966.88--ed. I knew the dot-com bubble would eventually catch up to me.]
Props to Mickey Kaus for all of the links.
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
How hard is it to use a f#$%ing footnote?
Apparently, U.S. Representative Sherrod Brown sent a letter to Mike DeWine regarding the Samuel Alito nomination, and the letter essentially copied a Nathan Newman post about Alito's take on labor rights. Brown's staff admitted to Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Stephen Koff that "90 percent of what Brown, an Avon Democrat, wrote in his letter was lifted from an Internet posting by a blogger."
Ordinarily I woldn't post about this -- I've reached the point where I'm bored with my own media whoredom. However, this story has some lefty bloggers very annoyed -- including Newman:
While I have some sympathy with the idea of reporters focusing on actual policy substance, this is still a completely valid story. Consider this section of Koff's story and compare it with Black's defiinition of plagiarism:
This is a case of sloppy staff work in Brown's office and not much more -- but it's still a screw-up, which explains why Brown's office immediately copped to the miscue.
UPDATE: Brown has sent another letter to DeWine acknowledging the failure to cite Newman. However, the press release accompanying the letter asserts that, "In coordination with an Ohio newspaper article published Tuesday, DeWine's staff dismissed concerns expressed by Brown in the Nov. 4 letter, instead focusing on citation errors." (emphasis added)
That's an interesting word choice -- Brown is clearly implying that DeWine's staff engineered the story in the first place. I have no idea if this is true or not -- but I'd like to hear of any evidence Brown has to back this up.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Looks like I'm not getting the Prius
So I've agreed to join my own blogger cabal -- Pajamas Media.
[So what does this mean for your average reader. Wait, screw them, what does this mean for me?!--ed. Not much, really. In a few weeks/months, you'll be redirected from this URL to another one -- but this bookmark will still be valid. There will probably be a few more ads along the right-hand side -- the whole point of this idea is to pool together multiple sites to generate larger traffic for advertisers. That's about it. And me?--ed. You're still on the payroll.]
Here's my profile over at their site. Money quote: "My plan is to retire in three years based on this. I was specifically promised lots of cash and a Toyota Prius." UPDATE: Roger Simon sets me straight on the compensation.
[Hey, wasn't Pajamas Media co-conceived by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs?--ed. Why yes, yes it is. I disagree a fair amount with Charles -- but then again, I disagree with David Corn a fair amount too, and he's involved as well. Any good classical liberal would want this kind of disagreement--it would be like one syndicated columnist caring about who else is covered by the syndicate. Besides, I don't think there's going to be a huge overlap in readership. According to this LGF commenter, "sagely and even-handedly pondering all sides of an issue of grave geo-political importance is not what makes an exciting blog." So much for the Prius!--ed.]
Thursday, September 22, 2005
A genuine blogging perk
[Won't real members of the media giggle that you're at the screening?--ed. As a member of Chicago's media elite, I expet them to respect my authoriti, thank you very much.]
UPDATE: The people at Grace Hill Media have been kind enough to e-mail me Serenity's synopsis so I don't have to:
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Is George Will reading Megan McArdle?
Megan McArdle, "The poor really are different," Asymmetrical Information, September 9, 2005:
George Will, "A Poverty of Thought," Washington Post, September 13, 2005.
What's interesting is that McArdle and Will end up at somewhat different places with the same basic starting point.
Other reads relevant to this conversation for today: Jon Hilsenrath's Wall Street Journal piece on what economists think about rebuilding New Orleans. Money quote from urban economist Ed Glaeser: "Given just how much, on a per capita basis, it would take to rebuild New Orleans to its former glory, lots of residents would be much [better off] with $10,000 and a bus ticket to Houston."
Then there are these Washington Post poll numbers:
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
The revenge of ham radio
Among those debating the relative influence of the blogosphere in American politics, the facile question has always een whether blogs will become "talk radio or ham radio?" The obvious implication is that talk radio is now a permanent feature of the media ecosystem that covers politics, while ham radio was a fad that remains sustained only be true enthusiasts. Blog enthusiasts tend to favor the former comparison over the latter.
After reading this Wall Street Journal story by Christopher Rhoads on what ham radio has done in the wake of Katrina, perhaps the blogosphere should become more comfortable with the latter comparison as well:
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Racking up those blogging perks
Since I've started blogging, there is no doubt that I've received an increased number of free books. Yesterday I received three -- one on education reform, one on why Europe will run the 21st century, and galleys on why emerging democracies are more war-prone than other kinds of governments.
However, those paled beside the following e-mail:
Readers are invited to think of an appropriate contest.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Media Wars, Episode II: The Media Strikes Back
Three weeks after Judge Richard Posner's disquisition on the media in the New York Times Book Review, the responses are in.
The NYT Book Review publishes five letters, including Eric Alterman, Bill Moyers, and NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller. Posner chose not to respond, which is a bit surprising, since the letters all have their flaws.
Let's take Keller for an example:
I'm not sure I completely buy Posner's original thesis, but this response by Keller is cartoonish and uninformed. Of course journalists can write stories contrary to their personal prejudices -- one of Posner's points in the initial review was that market competition forces journalists to put aside their prior beliefs. As to whether media is capable of "standing up to their advertisers (and the prejudices of their readers)," I'm pretty sure that Posner's theory would allow for this possibility -- but it's always the exception and never the rule. Posner's trying to explain the overall trend, not the exceptions.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure Posner would be eminently comfortable with theories that postulate "the behavior of the American judiciary [is] explainable purely as a response to economic self-interest?" There's a small-but-emerging literature in political science about explaining opportunistic behavior among judges -- click here for one example.
How do I know that Posner would be comfortable with this argument? See Richard A. Posner, "What Do Judges Maximize? (The Same Thing Everybody Else Does)," Supreme Court Economic Review, vol. 3 (1995), pp. 1-28.
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Your new blog for the day
Through rigorous market surveys, the hard working staff here at danieldrezner.com knows that its readership wants to find blogs discussing foreign aid and economic development. [Well, that and the occasional mention of Salma Hayek--ed]
Without further ado, click over to Private Sector Development Blog, an inelegantly-named but interesting read by Tim Harford and Pablo Halkyard, two economists at the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (that's the bank with the Bank that lends to private sector entities).
Go check out the blog.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
"Where do you find the time to blog?"
This is the question I field the most when the topic of blogging comes up at cocktail parties and BBQs.
The answer is embedded in this CNN story:
The Forrester page is of little use for those of us who aren't Forrester clients, but if you click on the video, you learn an interesting fact: according to their survey, only 2% of households in the United States read a blog once a week.
I should note that my lovely wife has a different answer to the title question -- "it's the time he would otherwise have used to pick up his socks."
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Online screw-ups affecting the workplace -- continued
Via Over at CNET's new and interesting workplace blog, Paul Festa thinks this is another example of bloggers gone wild -- however, as David Scott points out:
Strictly speaking, Gee wasn't blogging -- furthermore, it was a blogger who apparently called him out.
[And would you have done the same thing if you had read Gee's post?--ed. Given that Gee posted this in a public forum, yep, you betcha. Er, haven't you occasionally evinced an ocular interest in the fairer sex on this blog?--ed. It's one thing to point out that a public figure has pleasing features when. in part, that's why they are public figures -- it's another thing entirely to publicly make the same point about someone over whom you hold an authority relationship. There are certain bright lines in my job, and that's one of them.]
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Your surreal online moment for today
In the middle of an online Q&A on CAFTA with U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman -- run by the White House, no less -- the following exchange took place:
Monday, July 18, 2005
Rashomon in the nanny world
Continuing the theme of the professional downsides of blogging, Helanie Olen had a piece in yesterday's New York Times about firing her nanny because ofher blog:
The ex-nanny posts her rebuttal, naturally, on her blog, which starts off as follows:
I'd tell you to read the whole thing, but it is very, very long. Bitch Ph.D., who knows the blogger in question, posts her own thoughts on the matter:
Friday, July 15, 2005
The media in the year 2014....
I, for one, welcome our new GoogleZon overlords.... I think.
Saturday, July 2, 2005
Daniel W. Drezner -- the magazine?
Hey, if ESPN can do it, why not the hardworking staff at danieldrezner.com?
If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click over to James "Outside the Beltway" Joyner for some background about the FEC's slow-motion investigation of how to regulate the blogosphere. Anticipating the inevitable FEC screw-up, some bloggers, like Bill Hobbs, have decided to simultaneously a) retiring from blogging, and b) declare themselves to be "online daily interactive magazine(s) of news and commentary."
Over at Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrissey is valiantly resisting this trend, stating:
Ed makes an excellent point. However, Duncan "Atrios" Black makes a persuasive argument about joining the online magazine community:
Make it twister with Salma Hayek, and this would be the easiest call in blog history.
Decisions, decisions.... I will humbly leave it to my readers to decide for me.
And, no, there would be no swimsuit issue.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
It's a strange day in the blogosphere....
But Wonkette does factor into the general cultural weirdness of my day by contributing "Wonkette on Wonkette" for the University of Chicago Magazine -- in which I discovered the following:
Thursday, May 26, 2005
What to read about the blogosphere today
Two outstanding contributions about the way the blogosphere works:
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Some fine blogging going on this week!
Three great things to peruse in the blogosphere:
The Hotline focuses on.... me
The National Journal's Hotline has a new blog feature called Blogometer. It's like Slate's blog feature, but longer and with more links.
You can check out today's feature by clicking here -- there's a Q&A with yours truly at the end, in which I reveal my daily blog reads, and also confess a wistful nostalgia for This Week with David Brinkley.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The NYT op-ed shakedown
I don't have a great deal to offer on the New York Times' decision to charge for some its content (including the op-ed page) starting in September that Virginia Postrel and Matthew Yglesias haven't already made.
I do, however, have a research question that I bet some communications grad student has written a paper about -- to what extent does having a fee-for-content regime inhibit a web site's popularity/traffic/links? For example, most people I know consider the reportage of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are papers of comparable quality (or maybe the Journal has a slight lead). However, the Times has an Alexa traffic rank of 107, while the Journal has a traffic rank of 540. Even USA Today, an inferior newspaper to the Journal, has a higher Alexa traffic rank. So it looks like free news sites attract a higher traffic level even if the quality of information is not as good.
I'm sure someone out there has done a more systematic study of this question. Please post a link to useful research if you can find it.
UPDATE: Hmm.... Mickey Kaus suggests that maybe I've been too hasty in judging the New York Times proposal.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Hello, bemused New York Times readers
I'd like to thank Suzanne Nossel and David Greeberg for holding down the fort here at danieldrezner.com while I was away at my brother's wedding. Contrary to David's fears, their tag-team of insightful and provocative posts kept my traffic levels at very respectable levels. UPDATE: You can read David's final thoughts by clicking here.
Furthermore, I see that David made the most of his experience by writing about his guest-blogging stint in the New York Times.
LAST UPDATE: Suzanne Nossel posts her thoughts about blogging at danieldrezner.com here. And David Greenberg has asked me to pass on the following missive (after the jump):
All emphases in original.
Thursday, May 5, 2005
Raking in the big blog bucks
I too, am feeling the warm rush of riches being thrown my way. Why, less than ten minues ago, I received the following e-mail from someone at the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles:
That's right..... ten dollars. [Sounds better if you say it like Dr. Evil--ed.].
I can already envision being part of Mickey Kaus's tax position!
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
An exemplar case of blog influence?
One of the problems in studying the political influence of blogs is trying to tease out the precise causal mechanism. How is it possible to show that without the blogosphere, a political event would have ended differently? This problem is compounded by the fact that blogs often will be writing about a newsbreaking event as it happens. Researchers can conflate activity with influence -- i.e., because people are blogging about something, they must have affected the outcom (compare and contrast Ed Morrissey's take on the Eason Jordan scandal versus my own take).
However, I think NRO's Byron York has come up with an exemplar example of the influence of Daily Kos -- with regard to the John Bolton confirmation:
Read the whole thing (thanks to alert reader R.H. for the link).
Friday, April 29, 2005
Some changes are coming on Internet ads
The Economist has an interesting story on how the evolution of Internet advertising. Here's how it opens:
Read the whole thing to see how Google is revamping its AdSense feature.
This segues nicely into a Mickey Kaus report on a potential change in how ads will be gathered on the blogosphere:
As someone with more than a passing interest in this proposal, I'm curious to hear from readers whether they think either or both aspects of the Pajamas Media proposal will fly.
FULL DISLOSURE: I've been contacted about participating in the proposed syndicate.
UPDATE: Roger L. Simon has a post providing some more explanation -- and an open invitation for other bloggers to join in.
Meanwhile, Marc Danziger provides a lot more explanation in this post -- including his take on the future of newspapers and blogs:
Friday, April 8, 2005
I didn't think this was possible...
Here's how it starts:
Read the whole thing.
Refreshingly, after repeated waves of comment spam last fall, I've had to deal with far fewer attempts since the election. The most clever spam effort I've seen simply copied a prior comment from the thread, with the desired URL replacing commenter's e-mail and URL. This is dangerous, because unless the blogger is paying attention it just looks like a random double comment.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
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.
Monday, March 21, 2005
How I'm spending tomorrow morning
What better way to spend a Tuesday morning (10-12 Eastern time) that to liveblog a Brookings Institution panel!!
[Was that, like, a real question or a rhetorical one? Because with the right person, I can think of an infinite combination of activities that might be superior--ed. It was a rhetorical question.]
The panelists include Jodie T. Allen (Senior Editor, Pew Research Center), Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette.com), Ellen Ratner (White House Correspondent, Talk Radio News Service), Jack Shafer (Editor-at-Large, Slate), and Andrew Sullivan
Be sure to tune in tomorrow.
UPDATE: My live-blogging post is here.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
What to read on the blogosphere
In honor of my trip to New Orleans to talk about blogs at the Public Choice Society meetings, here's what I'm going to be thinking about for the next 24 hours:
Monday, March 7, 2005
Bad news or really bad news for newspapers?
Is print dying? A Pew Internet survey of how Americans got their information during the 2004 campaign suggests that maybe the answer is yes. Anick Jesdanun explains for the Associated Press:
Click here for Editor & Publisher's take on the report. I'm not sure how much newspapers should be panicking in terms of content -- what appears to be happening is that many people have substituted an online version of their newspaper for the print version. Nevertheless, the secular decline is evident, which should scare the business side of the press. The fact that many people are reading even online newspapers through the editorial filter of either an online news page or a blog is what should rattle editors.
The actual Pew study can be found here -- and here's a link to Michael Cornfield's analysis of the Internet's effect on the 2004 election. Key paragraph:
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Call me "Dr. Dre" from now on
Sampling, cutting, pasting, and then writing a few short words of commentary? That b**ch Levin don't know what the f*** he's talking about. [Fo'shizzle!--ed.]
[Did Levin get the "circle jerk" meme from Bill Keller--ed. Beats me. Speaking of Keller, however, Jeff Jarvis has posted his ongoing correspondence with the New York Times Executive Editor. Oh, and Slate has added a new feature, Today's Blogs -- which appears to be a useful compliment to their equally useful Today's Papers feature.]
Monday, February 21, 2005
Bill Keller on the blogosphere
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller has been quite chatty about the blogosphere as of late. According to this report by Amanda Erickson in the Columbia Spectator:
Wow, sounds like this Keller guy is a bit of an anti-blog jerk. Wait, it gets worse -- in an open letter to Jeff Jarvis he says that, "bloggers... are paranoid, propagandistic, unreliable, hate-filled, self-indulgent, self-important and humorless." (link via Glenn Reynolds.)
Now, before anyone gets too upset, bear in mind that the quote I just generated from Keller's letter is not really consistent with the overall tone of his snarky but friendly exchange with Jarvis. Read the whole letter. Let's put that quote in context now:
Sounds correct to me -- I might add that if you take "cable television" or "talk radio" as a media category, the comment still holds.
What's interesting about these different Keller episodes is that the Columbia Spectator reporter probably took just the juiciest bit from Keller's comments regardless of whether they were consistent with the overall tenor of his remarks -- whereas Jarvis ("mediaman by day, blogboy by night") reprinted all of Keller's comments, allowing one to judge Keller's argument in toto.
Oddly enough, this is undoubtedly one trait that good bloggers share with the New York Times. The Times, as the "paper of record," was very good about printing the full text of important documents and speeches before there was a world wide web. The best bloggers, through hyperlinks, can engage in a similar practice when parsing out someone's comments.
Just a thought.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Regarding Eason Jordan
Most of this debate is on whether Jordan's blog-fueled exit is good or bad. For me, there's another question -- did the blogosphere really force him out?
I ask this after reading Ed Morrissey's timeline of Jordangate in the Weekly Standard. Assuming that Morrissey's account is accurate, then the media heat on Jordan was never particularly strong -- and it was dying down the day before he left CNN. Consider this section of Morrissey's article:
In a blog post on the same topic, Morrissey again complains about the lack of media attention to this story:
So Morrissey acknowledges that the story was starting to lose steam the day before Jordan left, and that the mainstream media seemed disinclined to pursue the story any further. If the MSM was either not paying much attention or playing down the scandal, why did Jordan choose to resign when he did?
There are three possibilities:
I just don't think (1) is true -- if it is, it certainly violates the argument that Henry Farrell and I have made about when blogs are influential. (2) might be correct -- see Rebecca MacKinnon on this point -- but based on what both Stephens and David Gergen have said, I'm dubious about the tape being that damaging. [But Morrissey points out that what he said at Davos fits a larger pattern--ed. Yes, but Morrissey also laments the fact that this was not reported in the MSM beyond the original Guardian story from last November.]
Which leads me to (3). It's telling that Katherine Q. Seelye's New York Times account observes, "Some of those most familiar with Mr. Jordan's situation emphasized, in interviews over the weekend, that his resignation should not be read solely as a function of the heat that CNN had been receiving on the Internet, where thousands of messages, many of them from conservatives, had been posted." And, as Mickey Kaus points out, Howard Kurtz's first-draft version of what happened provided an alternative explanation. Check out this Keith Olbermann post as well.
Unlike Michelle Malkin, I haven't called anyone to check out this hypothesis -- this is only me spitballing. But something ain't right here.
I'm curious what others think -- and I'm particularly curious what the higher-ups at CNN think.
Hail Hitler -- Ted Hitler, that is
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had a piece on bloggers by
The eerie thing is that Colbert's closing statement is precisely the point that Henry Farrell and I make in our predictions for the future of the blogosphere. To quote Colbert:
It's really depressing that The Daily Show is not just funnier that I am -- they are better at stating the more substantive point about bloggers.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
There's the Planet Earth, and then there's Tulsa World
My favorite part is the claim by Tulsa World's lawyers in the letter sent to Bates that he "inappropriately linked [Bates'] website to Tulsa World content."
Man, imagine how inappropriate it would be to link to the e-mail of the good people who run Tulsa World.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
"Confessions of a scholar-blogger"
That's the title of a short essay I wrote for the University of Chicago Magazine, the U of C's alumni magazine. Here's the opening and closing paragraphs:
Thanks to Mary Ruth Yoe for her crisp editing -- and thanks to Jacob Levy for coining the term "scholar-blogger" in the first place.
You should check out the rest of the magazine's contents -- as I've noted in the past, it's consistently interesting and informative. For example, check out Sharla Stewart's article on Richard Thaler and the rise of behavioral economics. Stewart has a good track record in writing about the social sciences -- her essay on the "perestroika" movement two years ago remains the single-best thing I've read on the subject.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Hey, in Philadelphia, I'm a law professor!!
Frank Wilson has a review of Hugh Hewitt's Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. This paragraph jumped out at me:
Y'know, if I was earning the same salary as a law professor, I wouldn't complain.
UPDATE: Thanks to Warren Dodson for pointing out that Wilson was merely repeating what Hewitt wrote in Blog on p. 11: "Daniel Drezner, a University of Chicago law professor and uber-blogger, called for Lott's resignation on Saturday . . . ."
I'll take the mis-designation in return for being called an uber-blogger. Hmmm.... note to self: contact Marvel Comics about new superhero idea.....
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Regarding Dan Rather and Armstrong Williams
I've been remiss in not posting about the Rathergate Commission report as well as the Armstrong Williams scandal. Fortunately, Kathleen Parker's syndicated column sums up my thoughts on both matters pretty well -- so go check out her argument (Jeff Jarvis too -- though that's always a good recommendation).
Oh, except for this part of Parker's essay:
In one sense Parker is correct -- if a blogger just screws up, nothing prevents that blogger from continuing to post. However, without acknowledging mistakes, that blogger is suddenly going to have a lot fewer readers than before -- and that is a formidable constraint. The mainstream media can experience this problem as well, but not as powerfully. In part that's because a blogger is the sole content provider for his or her blog, whereas a columnist -- or even an anchorman -- is only a cog in a larger media machine.
The key is that bolded part about "acknowledging mistakes" -- and this is one area where the blogosphere has an advantage. Ironically, because bloggers tend to screw up on a regular basis, it is far easier for us to admit error. Journalists are probably more diligent at fact-checking, and probably make fewer mistakes overall. But they do make them. Because these mistakes are more infrequent, and because accuracy is a slightly more precious currency in the mediasphere than the blogosphere, they will resist admissions of error -- compounding the original problem.
This dynamic is reflected in RatherGate. The telling section in the CBS report is how producer Mary Mapes, Rather, et al reacted after their report was challenged. They dug in their heels and engaged in even more distorted reporting in an attempt to defend the veracity of their documentation (check out p. 183 of the report, for example).
Friday, January 7, 2005
There really is a blog about everything
I would now blog more about this kind of rumor mill -- except there is already a blog devoted solely to this topic. So I'm outsourcing speculation to that site.
This leads me to this Leonard Witt post about the structure of the blogosphere. It's really an exchange between Jeff Jarvis and Lewis Friedland over whether the blogosphere amounts to anything new. Friedland is skeptical:
Click on the link to see Jarvis' response, which I agree with. Basically, it boils down to the notion that there are mass audiences and there are niche audiences -- and different blogs feed different types of audiences. For each audience, a skewed distribution of traffic and links exists -- but just because a blogger doesn't generate Glenn Reynolds' kind of traffic does not automatically render them unimportant.
The fact that David Stevens and Alex Wilks decided to set up a blog devoted exclusively to the search for a new World Bank President -- which, let's face it, is not on most people's radar screen -- is a point for Jarvis.
Anyway, click over there to get and give the best dirt on possible candidates and their odds.
Thursday, January 6, 2005
So you want to influence public opinion....
If you had an idea and wanted to insert it into the national debate, where would you publish it? In other words, what are the most influential media outlets in the United States?
Almost a decade ago, I had a conversation about this topic with someone who had served in the government at a pretty high level and was clearly on his way up the media ladder. His response was that on foreign policy questions, there were only four outlets that mattered: Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Which I've used as a rule of thumb.
Turns out that Erdos & Morgan conduct an annual survey on this kind of question -- although it deals with influence writ large rather than specifically influencing foreign policy. Last month the 2004-5 results were released -- and the Council on Foreign Relations is very excited about it:
Here's the top 10:
A few things worth noting:
1) I'm surprised that no broadcast media cracked the top 10.
2) One wonders how individual blogs would do if they were added to the survey (I'm assuming they weren't, since this is targeted at large-scale advertisers. If Henry Copeland is smart, though, he'd pay to see that some blogs were added to the list). I doubt they would crack the top 10 -- but I could see one or two of them cracking the top 25.
UPDATE: Someone has e-mailed me this press release in which the New York Times makes similar claims to Foreign Affairs. However, read this comment -- which suggests that basically the NYT and Foreign Affairs are using slightly different interpretations of "influence" -- and both publications have some substantive claim to this mantle.
Friday, December 3, 2004
It's the 2004 Weblog Awards!!
I urge any and all readers to click over to the 2004 Weblog Awards and vote among the myriad categories. Unbeknownst to me -- thanks to R.H. for the link -- I see that I'm nominated for "Best of the Top 100 Blogs".
So... vote for me, dammit!! I've never won one of these awards, and if at all possible I'd like to avoid becoming the Harold Stassen of the blogosphere. And, looking at the voting to date, I appear to be getting my ass kicked. UPDATE: Ah, now I see why I'm getting my ass kicked -- Megan McArdle is playing dirty -- really, really dirty.
Logicians among the readership are invited to reconcile the conundrum of how the Best of the Top 100 Blogs would not therefore better than the Best Overall Blog -- since all of them are Top 100 blogs.
Thursday, December 2, 2004
More than just a trend?
Link via Tom Sullivan. From an international relations perspective, I'm intrigued to see that "sovereignty" came in ninth by their metric of popularity.
UPDATE: If Microsoft has its way, you will become one with the blog.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Oh, yes, there are costs to blogging
This week's blog casualties:
Not quite as bad as the Iranians, of course.
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
The Iranian Internet crackdown
Alas, this section got cut from the conclusion of "Web of Influence":
Unfortunately, as my co-author Henry Farrell points out, this point can now be seen in Iran. Nazila Fathi reported on it yesterday in the New York Times:
Jeff Jarvis argues that, "They [the mullahs] will fail. This can't be stopped now."
UPDATE: For some more background on this crackdown, which has been going on for the past few months, check out this Hossein Derakhshan post from two months ago (link via Rebecca MacKinnon) as well as this Human Rights Watch press release from last month.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
The New York Times Magazine discovers that bloggers are geeks
The teaser for Matthew Klam's cover story on political bloggers:
That's a great question, but Klam doesn't answer it in the article -- in fact, I'm not even sure he addresses it.
Instead, Klam has written a piece on how, regardless of ideology, topic of interest, or writing style, all bloggers share a common trait -- they're geeks. [Surely not Wonkette?--ed. Click here for her dirty little secret (link via Mark Blumenthal).] By geek, I mean that they have an unusually strong appetite for information that the rest of humanity might find.... a tad dry. Geeks are also acutely conscious of the pre-existing social hierarchy, and have a strong sense of unease about their place in that hierarchy.
So, while I learned little that would be useful for my research on blogs and politics, I did pick up the following tidbits of information:
Your humble blogger is very glad that he's sufficiently below the radar that Klam found it unnecessary to profile him. I susect this is how Klam's first psragraph would have gone:
I have to think that Klam must be ticked off at the Times headline writers -- they badly mischaracterized the tenor of Klam's essay, which is far more anthropological than political in nature.
Friday, September 24, 2004
Do blogs penetrate the campaign cocoon?
Jay Rosen has a must-read post that relates a Philip Gourevitch lecture on what it's like to cover a presidential campaign. Gourevitch comes across as the grown-up version of the Lindsey Lohan character in Mean Girls, applying his strengths as a foreign correspondent to a new situation: "The presidential campaign as a foreign country visited for the first time by our correspondent."
The two parts I found particularly informative:
While it's tough for the press to leave that bubble, it's becoming easier for outside information to enter it:
I wonder if blogs are part of what these journalists check.
UPDATE: For more on the metaphysics of media coverage, check out John Holbo's marathon post on the topic.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Orin Kerr pages the right half of the blogosphere
Astute readers may have observed that I have refrained from posting about Swift Boats, Kitty Kelley, typewriter fonts et al.
While I certainly understand why the rest of the blogosphere is exercised about this stuff, Orin Kerr says what I've been thinking:
Now, I take Ramesh Ponnuru's point that bloggers don't have an obligation to do anything -- though that is one reason why some journalists don't like them. And readers should feel free to post comments here on why they disagree or agree with Orin or why these matters are vitally important questions before the republic compared to Iraq or Russia. Really, post away.
But this is the first and last post you will read at danieldrezner.com about this subject. Because substantively,* I just don't care about any of it -- which is why I feel no desire to write about it.
My one and only political response to all of this stuff is very simple, and echoies Lawrence Lessig: does anyone seriously believe that this election should be decided by what either candidate did more than thirty years ago?
*For the blog paper Henry Farrell and I are writing, I'll confess to some interest in the role blogs have played in framing these stories.
UPDATE: TMH reminds me why I like my comments section, as he makes a decent point:
I don't buy (c) for a minute, but (a) and (b) have some traction.
Check out Baseball Crank, who makes similar points.
On the other hand... those who take the blogosphere as able to influence the media should read Telis Demos' TNR Online piece and ask whether blogs have been consistent in their media critique (though see David Adesnik's critique as well). [UPDATE: Hey, whaddaya know, bloggers have at this -- except that it turns out Demos' story was the one with factual errors. See Stuart Buck and Brian Carnell on this point (hat tip to Crow Blog for the links)]
Oh, and one final point: this post certainly shouldn't be interpreted as a defense of CBS. This Josh Marshall post -- which offers an interpretation that's most favorable to their reporting -- sums it up. "GotterDannerung" indeed.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr responds to his critics. The key part:
Friday, September 10, 2004
Blog quote of the day
For someone who's never been particularly spare in his prose, Den Beste comes up with a very pithy closing line about blogging:
Tuesday, September 7, 2004
Another comparative advantage of the blogosphere?
I've been remiss in not congratulating Kevin Drum for his first book review for the New York Times. He deftly critiques Arthus Schlesinger Jr.'s War and the American Presidency -- even though Kevin is undoubtedly sympathetic to Schlesinger's argument. Go give it a read.
As I was reading it, it occurred to me that Drum's review was probably enhanced by his blogger origins. Why? Because Kevin, unlike many other possible reviewers, was probably not concerned with ingratiating himself with Schlesinger. Which is why bloggers might be the best critics of them all. Bloggers, as the gatecrashers of the commetariat, are less constrained by personal or professional ties from providing honest appraisals. This is not to accuse non-bloggers of acting in an opportunistic fashion -- rather, it's simply more difficult, even at a subconscious level, to speak truth to power when you know what you'll say will hurt someone's feelings.
[So why does the post title have a question mark?--ed. Because some bloggers are not exactly gatecrashers. Read this Josh Marshall post, for example, and imagine him writing the same review Kevin Drum wrote about Schlesinger's book. But you liked that anecdote!--ed. True, but my current point is that the more bloggers are emeshed within the mediasphere -- myself included -- the more we face the same set of implicit personal and professional constraints that others "inside the tent" currently face.]
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Lazy media stereotype continued
Oh, wait, I got that wrong -- replace "op-ed columnist" with "blogger" and then you get Canfield's lead paragraph.
My point here is not (only) to pick on Canfield -- the substance of his story is to discuss the limits of the blogosphere's influence -- but rather to re-emphasize a point I made when George Packer's blog essay came out: "conduct a mental experiment -- replace the word 'blogosphere' with 'New York Times op-ed columnists' or 'David Broder. See if the criticism[s]... still hold up."
Also, it's not like there aren't theories out there explaining how blogs influence politics.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
A multiple choice question for my readers
This strikes me as something of an exaggeration -- most of the blogs I originally put on the blogrolll are still quite active.
However.... for professional and personal reasons that will soon become apparent, I may be facing one of Krubner's three options relatively soon. Option one seems too radical, and I doubt I'll be pursuing it. So I have a question for my readers -- would you prefer irregular blogging from me alone -- Ă la the great Virginia Postrel -- or having danieldrezner.com expand into drezner&company.com?
I await your input.
UPDATE: Thanks for all the input!! I'll be reaching my decision soon.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Happy blogiversary to Eric Zorn!!
Read the whole thing. Jeff Jarvis is quoted, and he expands on his thoughts in this post, which closes:
UPDATE: Henry Copeland has some useful thoughts on this.
Thursday, August 5, 2004
Blogs threaten national security
Well, some of them do -- according to The Onion.
Or, is this just a power play by the CIA? You be the judge.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
My last metablogging post for a while
The first is Fafblog's "interview" with Wolf Blitzer. For those of you sick to death of the convention blogfest, this is the link for you. This is from the opening paragraph:
It's a damn good thing Henry and I changed our paper title, because our first choice was "Blogging: Blog Media Bloggity Blog Media Bla-blog."
More seriously, Jonathan Chait has a great TNR Online essay about why he's covering the convention from home (
Not only is this true, it's the best refutation of Alex S. Jones' tired tirade against bloggers. Jones complains that:
The best bloggers link to opposing views, excel at Chait's "ass-welt reporting," and perform Google and Nexis searches ad nauseum.
As Chait points out, reporting is about more than shoe leather, it's about decent research skills -- a fact one would have expected the director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy to comprehend. Instead, Jones seems to have divined all of his knowledge about blogs from reading Matt Drudge and Wonkette.
It's a shame he didn't do more research for his op-ed.
A BELATED POSTCRIPT: Many of the commenters to this post have defended either Drudge or Wonkette, assuming that I was attacking them. That wasn't my intent, as I consume both of them on a regular basis. My point was that most bloggers do not provide the same type of content as either Cox or Drudge. Jones (or blog-grouch Tom MacPhail) would have had a leg to stand on if the rest of the blogosphere was akin to either of these sites. In moderation, however, both of them serve a useful purpose.
Monday, July 26, 2004
A hypothesis about blog coverage
The extent to which the mainstream media has simultaneously embraced and covered the blog phenomenon for the Democratic National Convention has overwhelmed even a skeptic like Josh Marshall:
Indeed, the Jennifer Lee has a story in the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal has gone all out -- it's topic A of John Fund's column; Carl Bialik and Elizabeth Weinstein provide an exhaustive report on the convention bloggers, and I just got a call from another WSJ reporter for another story.
Even though I've written about the ever-increasing connections between the blogosphere and mediasphere, I must also confess surprise at the intensity of coverage over the past few days. What's going on?
Here's a quick-and-dirty hypothesis -- the media abhors a news vacuum, and a nominating conventions is one whopper of a news vacuum. There are no real surprises awaiting reporters in either Boston this week or New York come Labor Day. The only moderately interesting question this week is how well Edwards and Kerry deliver their speeches. Even that's not news as much as interpretation.
This is a perfect scenario for the media to increase their coverage of blogs. They are an undeniably new facet of convention coverage, which makes them news. They're a process story rather than a substance story, which the media likes to write about. Finally, one of the blogosphere's comparative advantage is real-time snarky responses and interpretations of media events.
Just a thought.
UPDATE: David Adesnik reinforces the point Henry Farrell and I have made about the skewed distribution of the blogosphere:
And here's a subsciption-only link to the Christopher Conkey story in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.
LAST UPDATE: Lindsay Beyerstein at Majkthise offers another excellent hypothesis explaining media coverage of convention bloggers:
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Blogs are feeling the convention love
A while back I was ambivalent about bloggers covering the conventions. As the Dems converge in Boston, however, I must confess to a surprising giddiness about the role that blogs and bloggers have earned for this election season [You're just happy because this provides more fodder for your blog paper--ed. Hey, I'm rarely on top of a trend. Let me savor this!] Consider the following:
I'll close with Patrick Belton's proclamation at OxBlog:
That's probably a bit too triumphalist for me -- but then again, with the nets embracing the blogosphere for its form and content, even I'm feeling a bit triumphalist today.
[I notice you're not going to be Mr. Media Whore for the upcoming week. What does this mixture of political conventions and blogging mean for you?--ed.
UPDATE: Howard Kurtz has a round-up of convention bloggers in his Media Notes Extra column. And John McCormack talks about blogs forming a "para-media" in the Chicago Tribune. Kurtz reports this Oscar-the-Grouch quote:
Blogs are not objective? Someone alert Daniel Okrent, stat!! And some convention blogger better score an interview with Sarah Jessica Parker -- it's the only way blogs will be taken seriously by the mediasphere!
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Hitting the big time
Hmmm... maybe there is a financial future in blogging.
When big budget movies start advertising on your blog (see the ad for The Manchurian Candidate remake on your right), you know the media market has changed.
Ah, but will danieldrezner.com ever hit the "big four" from Jerry Maguire --"shoe, car, clothing-line, soft-drink. The four jewels of the celebrity endorsement dollar."?
[Are those four really the appropriate "big" products for the blogosphere?--ed. No, the four jewels of the blogosphere would probably be search engines, newspapers, films, and glossy magazines. Readers are invited to suggest their "big four."]
UPDATE: Ask and you shall receive!! See the brand-new New Yorker ad on the right!!
Monday, July 12, 2004
(Some) bloggers get (a little bit) rich
Maureen Ryan reports in the Chicago Tribune that bloggers are starting to rake in the bucks:
I will leave that question for my readers to discuss. However, Ryan reviews the various demographic surveys suggesting that the blog demographic is a lucrative and well-connected one:
That said, one should bear in mind that Ryan is really talking about the peak bloggers at this point. If John Hawkins is raking in $1,000 a month, that's great, but that's not a huge sum of money. [What about you?--ed. I bring in far less than Hawkins -- but I won't deny that it's gratifying to actually earn money from this little venture.] At this point, maybe 5-10 bloggers can earn a decent living from blogging. It's nice that there's a new job category for the BLS and IRS to consider, but we're not talking about a huge economic impact here.
Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Is civility an endangered species in the blogosphere?
There's been a lot of chatter as of late about the civility of bloggers and the people who comment on them. A few weeks ago, Matthew Yglesias argued that bloggers had an incentive to behave badly:
More recently, concerns have been raised about the comments on popular blogs as well. Billmon recently shut down comments at Whiskey Bar; The Command Post has done the same. Commenting on this -- as well as his own difficulties with impolite posters -- Kevin Drum observes:
Kevin is not the only one to observe this degenerative phenomenon. James Joyner points out the following:
A few weeks ago, Glenn Reynolds made a similar point:
Eerily enough, now Roger is having difficulties with commenters.
With such an impressive consensus, it is very tempting to just shrug one's shoulders and accept that there is a rhetorical version of Gresham's Law in the blogosphere. It is undoubtedly true that in the short run, provocative, vitriolic, and/or sloppy writing -- by either bloggers or commenters -- can attract attention, whereas closely reasoned analysis sometimes falls by the wayside. The fact that so many top-notch bloggers have made similar observation about the correlation between hit counts and trolls is indeed disturbing.
However, I remain stubbornly optimistic on this front for five reasons:*
1) In the long run, reputation matters. Sure, being a bombthrower can attract attention -- but it's hard to do successfully over a prolonged period of time. Inevitably this kind of ranting leads to major as well as minor missteps. Once a commentator commits a major rhetorical gaffe or colossal misstatement of fact, it becomes impossible to take them seriously. Which is why it's so easy to discount the statements of Ann Coulter, Noam Chomsky, Pat Robertson, or Michael Moore.
2) Technology can help as well as hinder. I've raved about MT-Blacklist before for blocking spam, but an unanticipated bonus has been the ease with which I can delete any comment. Blacklist rebuilds my site much more quickly than MT -- so it's been far easier to prune away comments now than before.
3) Commenters usually follow the blogger's lead. Whenever I use profanity in my posts, the language in the comments inevitably becomes coarser. This works in reverse, however -- the more civil my posts, the better the tone of the comments. In this respect, the presence of comments has affected me in one way -- I'm much more polite on the blog now than I used to be.
4) Compared to academia, this is a tea party. Another blogger once asked me whether I felt "surprised at the angry tone of the comments your readers leave... It can be odd to be shouted down on your own website."
Look, I'm an academic, and this stuff is nothing. I've attended seminars where the paper presenter ran out of the room because s/he was crying. I've presented papers that have been likened to poor undergratuate theses. I've had papers rejected by top journals because they were "narrow and without much theoretical interest." I've heard cruelties uttered that will be burned in people's psyches until the day they die. In other words, I'm used to a pretty high standard of criticism. Compared to that, a line like "Hey, Drezner, let's outsource your job, you f***ing a@#hole!" -- or letters like these -- just come off as histrionic nonsense.
Eszter Hargittai has more on this.
As for comments, sure, the trolls can be annoying. However, they usually don't crowd out the good. For example, check out the comments to this post about rethinking the National Guard and Reserves. This is an issue on which I know only the broad contours -- and thanks to the informed comments (click here, here, here, and here for just a few examples) I know a lot more about the subject than I used to. For me, that benefit outweighs the occasional irritations that come from blogging.
*Two caveats. First, I don't have the traffic that Kevin, Glenn, Andrew, James or Michelle have. The scale factor is undeniable. Second, from now until November, extreme partisanship is going to be contributing factor to the level of discourse across the blogosphere.
UPDATE: CalGal poses a fair question in the comments:
Actually, I'm blessing the software because without it, deleting a comment takes 10 minutes of rebuilding; without it, it takes 10 seconds. In a world with spam, that's not a minor convenience, it's a major one.
This does not mean that I delete a lot of comments, however -- you can read my criteria here. At this point, I'd say I delete maybe one comment a week that's not either spam or an accidental double post. I don't think that translates into a "letter to the editor" section.
Friday, July 2, 2004
The most profitable blog in history
Until recently, Jessica Cutler was an undeniably attractive twentysomething staffer for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). For most of the month of May, Cutler blogged anonymously as Washingtonienne. The posts mostly recounted various alleged trysts with various men -- some of them involved money changing hands -- some of whom were allegedly high-ranking administration officials.
In late May, DeWine fired Cutler from her $25,000 position for "unacceptable use of Senate computers," and Cutler stopped blogging. The Washington Post's Richard Leiby and (the undeniably attractive) Wonkette covered this in detail at the time.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported the following:
So, basically, Cutler got a $300,000 return on approximately two weeks worth of blogging.
Readers are invited to suggest ways for other bloggers to make that kind of scratch involving blogging that do not involve a) cheating on spouses; or b) committing a felony.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Respect Eugene Volokh's authority!!
Kudos to Eugene Volokh for his latest coups:
Cass, Jacob, myself -- Eugene has now managed to have 10% of the poli sci faculty at the University of Chicago blog for him.
Monday, June 21, 2004
The blogging of the convention
Andrew is largely correct -- the conventions because of their effect on the television audience. That said, I don't think this is an either/or kind of situation. I'm happy some bloggers will be inside the tent, as it were -- mostly because I'm betting that they'll be able to provide the kind of "local color" that can seem blasĂ© to the veteran journalist. Bloggers also shouldn't care about whether such anecdotes offend the sensitivities of the powerful and the privileged. Plus, bloggers can also report on an issue that mainstream journalists would be reluctant to cover --how mainstream journalists behave at these shindigs.
Incidentally, I got a call last week from a Washington Post writer asking me if I'd be attending. I patiently explained that my wife is not keen for me to go to Boston and/or New York on our own dime just because the political parties might let me through the front door.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Suggest a guest-blogger for danieldrezner.com!!
Josh Marshall is taking a vacation, but not before dropping a coy reference to a journalistic venture "that I and several colleagues have been working on a story that, if and when it comes to fruition --- and Iâm confident it shall --- should shuffle the tectonic plates under that capital city where I normally hang my hat."
More intriguingly, Marshall will be having a guest blogger at Talking Points Memo [UPDATE: Marshall made a fine choice in TNR's Spencer Ackerman.] Which got me to thinking that even though I often fill in as a guest-blogger for the Higher Beings of the Blogosphere, I haven't had a guest blogger here at danieldrezner.com -- with the singular and laudatory exception of my wife.
Due to some impending events that will become public in due course, I may need the services of a guest-blogger or two in the coming months. I've thought on occasion about who could be able to fulfill my mandate of "politics, economics, globalization, academia, pop culture... all from an untenured perspective"? All too often I draw a blank.
Sooooo..... readers are hereby invited to submit suggestions -- from the blogosphere or the scholarly community -- as possible short-term substitutes (for those shy academics in the audience who are interested but would rather not post that fact on the blog, contact me directly).
It's not easy keeping up with the Oxbloggers
David Adesnik's praise to the contrary, we here at danieldrezner.com often feel powerless in the wake of the Oxbloggers' relentless stream of publications. It's not just their ability to publish in so many tony outlets -- it's the fact that they're more than a decade younger than me and publishing in so many tony outlets. Just who do these young whippersnappers think they are, writing such high-quality copy on such a regular basis?
[Is it because they haven't completed a Ph.D. yet and therefore haven't had their writing skills crushed into a sticky paste?--ed. From an epistemological standpoint, that's a nonfalsifiable hypothesis and lacks any counterfactual analysis. Thank you for proving my point--ed.]
But today the advantage is mine. My review of Niall Ferguson's Colossus: The Price of America's Empire is on page D7 of today's Wall Street Journal. You can see the online version by clicking here. Here's the part of the book that I found most interesting:
The ball's in your court, Oxblog... oh yes, the ball is most definitely in your court.
[Ummm... didn't Adesnik and Chafetz already publish something in the Wall Street Journal?--ed. Arrggh!! I'd have a greater sense of self-esteem if it wasn't for those meddling kids!!]
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Tim Berners-Lee finally makes a buck
Victoria Shannon has a nice story in the International Herald Tribune about how the inventor of the World Wide Web is finally reaping some rewards from his marvelous invention:
Read the rest of the article to find out why.
We here at danieldrezner.com salute Mr. Berners-Lee for finally making a profit off of the Internet.
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Matt Stoller, tendentious liberal
Matt Stoller has a post over at Blogging of the President entitled, "Daniel Drezner, The Mediocre Reasonable Conservative." I'm going to reprint the bulk of it here so no one can claim anything was taken out of context:
Wow -- how to respond:
1) Yep, it's true -- I was clearly defending "the anti-semitic attacks on George Soros" when I said in the post Matt linked to that I thought Tony Blankley excelled at "saying unbelievably stupid things," or when I said "Blankley is clearly an ass. As a Jew, I find that last bolded sentence repugnant" or when I approvingly linked to Eugene Volokh's post on why Blankley's statement was anti-Semitic.
It's a good thing Matt wasn't selective in how he quoted the post, or someone might have gotten the wrong impression.
2) As for the charge that I've neglected Iraq as difficulties have mounted -- once again I'll plead guilty to Stoller's charge. I've only discussed the mistakes made in Iraq here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here over the past six weeks.
3) Stoller has a fair point in stating that "calling a serious thinker on international politics a 'loon' without evidence is tantamount to intellectual cheating." Of course, I think have a fair point in saying that Soros is not a serious thinker on international politics. Part of the reason I didn't go further into thoughts on Soros is that they're going to appear in another venue. However, if Stoller wants some evidence, here's a brief snippet from my forthcoming review of The Bubble of American Diplomacy:
4) Finally, for someone who gets outraged at offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric (a truly bold position), I'm not sure whether it's rhetorically useful for Stoller to say I'm "cowardly" or compare me with "the business elite who dealt with Hitler." After reading that latter point in particular, my first reaction was, "gee, Matt Stoller is an anti-Semitic schmuck." My second reaction is the title of this post.
Stoller would probably label this post as "defensive" -- because it is. I have no qualms labeling his original his post as "dishonest."
My short responses:
1) Don't worry Matt -- I won't be devoting much time or effort to your prose in the future.
2) For the record, George Soros is clearly not insane, and I apologize if I gave that impression (thouh I don't think I did). He's accomplished many great things as a philanthropist. But even he describes his political views as "rabid." When they're not that, they're banal. If Stoller wants to take Soros seriously, fine -- that's his waste of time.
3) Oh, please -- an empire that sent in fewer troops than was necessary? An administration that now seems hell-bent on getting out of the country? Where's your evidence for empire?
Saturday, June 5, 2004
I can feel my chin growing already
My pathetic quest to become the Jay Leno of the blogosphere continues [Leno? LENO??!! You mean Letterman, right?--ed. No, I mean Jay Leno's guest host phase. However, Bryan Curtis argues in Slate that even Letterman is trying to be Leno now.]
[So who's next?--ed. Look into the computer screen, Mickey Kaus. You're getting very sleepy. Very sleepy indeed......]
Jack Shafer has a Slate piece pointing out that while the New York Times and 60 Minutes have issued retractions for stories about Iraqi WMD programs that leaned too heavily on Iraqi defectors provided by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, other media outlets have not been as forthcoming:
The good folks that put a fresh copy of danieldrezner.com on your computer screen every day have no fear of admitting error -- mostly because we're so used to screwing up. So, let me apologize/retract this April 21, 2003 post about Iraqi WMD that relied too heavily on reporting by the New York Times' Judith Miller -- who, as it turned out, relied way too heavily on Chalabi and his defectors. The story I linked to in that post was one of the stories the Times has since retracted.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
I am not a blogaholic, I am not a blogaholic....
Occasionally, I wonder if I devote too much time to the blog. Comparing how I spent my anniversary (not a lot of blogging) the opening of this Katie Hafner story in the New York Times does make me think that if I do have a problem, at least it's somewhat underc control by comparison:
Ah, for the good old days, when a man would steal away to his computer to download pornography.
Read the whole article, by the way -- my favorite passage was, "A few blogs have thousands of readers, but never have so many people written so much to be read by so few." And Jeff Jarvis has a nice defense of duty and blogging.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
So who are you?
Henry Copeland has posted some preliminary results from his survey of blog readers that I linked to last week. He got a decent sample size -- 17,159 respondents.
Among the more interesting findings:
The political breakdown is also interesting:
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Go take a survey!!
If you have a second [Of course they have a second -- otherwise they wouldn't be wasting their time reading your blog, dumbass!--ed.] please click over to BlogAds survey of reader demographics. There are a total of 22 questions, so it should be pretty painless. Be sure to answer "drezner" for question 22. And please answer by 9:00 p.m. Eastern time this (Wednesday) evening.
This is a win-win kind of deal. The more reader info BlogAds gets, the better they'll be able to solicit advertisers. The more of my readers who fill out the survey, the more accurate my information, which means better posts and more targeted ads for y'all.
I'm also asking you to respond because some of the questions would provide useful evidence for the blog paper I'm co-authoring with Henry Farrell.
It would also mean that during those ultracompetitive blogger sweeps periods, I won't have to resort to cheap or desperate ratings ploys to attract more readers like I've done before on occasion [Er, there is no such thing as sweeps in the blogosphere--ed. You mean there's no reason for me to link to Jennifer Garner pics on occasion? I didn't say there was no reason to do that--ed.]
Sunday, May 9, 2004
The political science of blogs
David Adesnik has a marathon-length post on moderating a Harvard panel with a Boston Globe journalist and discussing what he's learned via blogging. He concludes:
Oh my God, I can't believe how ignorant Davi--- just kidding.
More seriously, David has hit on one of the reasons I've given for blogging -- it can command immediate attention in a way that an article in either International Organization or the American Journal of Political Science cannot. Score one for blogging.
And yet -- there are two important caveats to David's thesis that blogging is more influential than political science. The first is that it may be that either activity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for influencing the body politic. Using myself as an example -- I got my gig at TNR Online because they liked the style and content of the blog. But, they also liked the fact that I was a professor of political science. My academic credentials probably opened a few doors that have been more difficult to open for a Kevin Drum or a Steven Den Beste.
The second caveat is that, while many political scientists yearn for "policy relevance," it comes in different forms. One way is to become a public intellectual/media whore and directly address one's fellow citizens. There are other, more permanent ways, however. John Maynard Keynes once observed that, "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." A good political scientist can have that kind of long-run influence as well. I doubt that politicians ever listened to what E.E. Schattschneider, David Mayhew, Hans Morgenthau, or Graham Allison said on a day-to-day basis -- but the political world they live in was partily constructed by their ideas.
Wednesday, May 5, 2004
Yours truly is there at #119, but I suspect that if the various blogs that reside at Blogspot were disaggregated, I'd fall off that list pretty fast.
Until then, I'll just use my lofty perch to advance the forces of good -- or try to get a BMW. I haven't made my mind up yet on this one.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Amazon.com vs. the blogosphere
James Marcus, a former senior editor for Amazon.com, has an amusing essay in the Washington Post on the varying quality of Amazon's customer reviews:
Here's a provocative thought -- does Marcus' assessment of Amazon's customer reviews also apply to the comments posted on blogs? Because bloggers lack the administrative resources/capabilities of Amazon.com, will this lead to the end of comment features over time?
I'll be further amused to see the customer comments on Marcus' forthcoming book, Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot.Com Juggernaut
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Thanks, but no thanks
The bad news -- According to this ranking system, David Brooks comes in at #20, Tom Friedman comes in at #40, David Broder at #57, and George Will at #172. Fareed Zakaria is not among the top 200.
In other words, I'm fairly certain that the methodology used to compile this list is horses--t. [What if you're wrong?--ed. Then I'll magnanimously offer to trade places with Tom, Fareed, George, or either David -- because I'm that kind of guy.]
UPDATE: After informing my lovely wife Erika of this ranking page, she queried, "I didn't know your Mom had a web site."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Kudos to Philippe Lourier for responding to semi-constructive criticism and taking the responses in stride.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Blogs, politics, and gender
Henry Farrell argues that during the current campaign season, blogs will funnel more money to Democrats than Republicans. His reasoning:
Meanwhile, the political part blogosphere apparently does share one common trait -- gender. Brian Montopoli at CJR's Campaign Desk writes:
Just for the record, I was not part of the chess club when I was in high school -- my captaincy of the math team took up far too much of my time.
More seriously, Montopoli seems to go a bit off the rails at the end:
(link via here).
A follow-up question -- what about the readers of political blogs? Do they skew disproportionately male as well? That seems to be the (unfortunate) case among my commenters. [Maybe that's because they don't like posts like this one?--ed. I'll grant that as a possibility -- but I have yet to receive a single complaint on that front.]
Let me know what you think.
Friday, March 5, 2004
A message from the editors at Foreign Policy
The managing editor of Foreign Policy sent me an e-mail yesterday regarding the Huntington kerfuffle. I just wanted to pass this part of the message along to the myriad contributors to danieldrezner.com's discussion threads:
Savor the praise.
Friday, February 13, 2004
To post or not to post
First off -- Mark's facts are wrong. By the time I got around to posting on it, I'd seen blogposts from DailyKos, Atrios, Instapundit, and Andrew Sullivan, about the story. According to Jonah Goldberg, this allegation was first posted by a Wesley Clark blogger last week.
Mark is also incorrect is saying that the Drudge Report and the National Enquirer story about Kerry are talking about the same thing. See John Hawkins on this.
Second, I linked and quoted the DailyKos post at greater length, in large part because Kos' points on this were way more specific than Drudge's. He also confirmed that Wes Clark made statement about the Kerry situation to reporters. As I said before, what interests me is how the story got to Drudge. If it's from Clark, it would appear to fit in with this characterization of generals who fail at politics.
I'll close with Andrew Sullivan's point on this, because it's true:
UPDATE: Tim Noah has the full list of rationales -- mine are #3 and #8.
Saturday, February 7, 2004
For Chicago readers only
The Chicago chapter of the Nathan Hale Foreign Policy Society -- devoted to discussing foreign policy topics in, "as bipartisan, idealistic, and nuanced fashion as possible," will be meeting a 7:00 PM Sunday evening at Cosi. The address is 116 S. Michigan Avenue. That's roughly across the street from the lovely Art Institute of Chicago. Make a day of it!!
This first meeting of the Chicago chapter will be led by Will Baude. The topic is Homeland Security:
Blogging for dollars
John Hawkins provides a run-down on possible ways that bloggers can make a buck off their blogs. There's an excellent discussion of all the possible revenue streams, but his first point is the most salient: "if your primary motivation is to make money, don't bother with blogging."
[Hey, you became Andrew Sullivan for a spell. You should be set!--ed. I've been less aggressive on this front than I could be -- mostly because the opportunity costs of caring outweigh the paltry amounts I suspect such efforts would generate. The Amazon click-throughs do generate enough money to pay for the site, however.]
Sunday, January 25, 2004
The blogging of the President
Christopher Lydon will be hosting a radio show on NPR tonight from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM (Eastern Time) entitled "The Blogging of the President." Of course, there's an associated blog. Here are links to multiple posts about tonight's show -- which has an impressive line-up of commentators from both the blogosphere (Andrew Sullivan, Jeff Jarvis, Atrios, Joshua Micah Marshall) and the mediasphere (Gary Hart, Kevin Phillips, Richard Reeves).
To listen in online, go to Minnesota Public Radio's home page.
For background reading, check out this AP story on blogs and campaigns from earlier this week, and today's essay about political "cyberbalkanization" from the New York Times.
UPDATE: A few thoughts having just listened to the broadcast:
1) Christopher Lyudon is just a font of adjectives. My favorite for describing the blogosphere was "yeasty."
2) Great (paraphrased) exchange between Jeff Jarvis and Frank Rich:
3) Jeff Jarvis also had the best line of the evening: "Bloggers don't replace reporters; bloggers replace editors."
4) Where the hell were Gary Hart and Kevin Phillips? [UPDATE: According to this post, "We can't get through to Gary Hart's number." I have that problem too.]
5) Atrios and Sullivan had a yeasty exchange towards the end. Andrew made the point that he was willing to criticize his own side of the political spectrum, whereas Atrios would not do the same on the left. Atrios replied that simply wasn't true, and it was clear Andrew had not read his blog. Sullivan asked Atrios to cite an episode when he had criticized someone on the left. Atrios paused and said, "Well, I can't think of think of one right now."
6) Scrappleface posted the following headline to a Blogging of the President real-time entry: "Public Radio Show Talks about People Who Write About What's Written About People Who Do Little Else But Talk."
7) A final substantive critique of the show -- Neither Lydon nor any of his guests made the crucial distinction between campaign blogs and independent political blogs. The former might be more prone than the latter to the cocooning phenomenon discussed on the show.
FINAL UPDATE: On a related subject, Billmon privides an exhaustive report on a Davos Economic Forum panel on the relationship between the blogosphere and the mediasphere.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Vote early, vote often
[Why can't she speak for herself?--ed. She's afraid of the expectations game. One post, one Bloggie nomination -- that's a tough ratio to maintain.]
Go vote for her -- you have until 10:00 PM EST on Saturday, January 31!
Saturday, January 17, 2004
Andrew Sullivan server update
I've received numerous e-mails asking me if, as a former guest-blogger, I can access Andrew Sullivan's site. I just tried, got something that said, "andrewsullican.com (sic) click". I clicked with some apprehension, but was able to access the site with no difficulties -- his last post was a response to Josh Marshall's defense of Clark.
According to Andrew -- via Glenn Reynolds -- this is a server problem. I experienced similar difficulties when I was doing the guest stint earlier this month, so I can certainly empathize. Andrew, you're welcome to guest-post here while the problem is being fixed!! [Big man!--ed. Hey, it's the least I could do.]
UPDATE: The Daily Dish is back online -- with an apology from Sullivan.
[On a separate matter, that's the second post in a row in which you've mention this Clark business without addressing it head-on. What gives?--ed. I haven't read enough to comment with confidence. From what I have read, it seems clear that Drudge ginned up a Clark quote through an improper use of ellipses. Does that mean Clark can't be criticized on foreign policy?--ed. Hell, no -- I argued two weeks ago that compared to Howard Dean he was getting a free ride on this issue. Steve Sachs has more on this.]
Friday, January 16, 2004
Who wants a grant? Me!! ME!!
Wait a minute -- there are grants to be had for doing this??!! Why the hell didn't anyone tell me? The Columbia School of Journalism can just waltz in, rake in the cash, and set up some fantsy-pants blog? [Well, they do have reputation and experience, and they seem to be all over this Drudge/Clark business--ed. Yeah, so were Robert Tagorda and Mark Kleiman, and they were grant-free! Give me them plus James Joyner, Jeff Jarvis, Josh Marshall, and Noam Scheiber (who's read on Gephardt's chances seems dead-on to me), and I'll kick their a--- I think it's time for your nap--ed.]
Friday, January 9, 2004
A small request
Now, my small request is not to ask you to nominate this blog for any awards. But, I see that one of the categories is "Best article or essay about weblogs."
For that category, I humbly request you submit Erika Drezner's "My Life as a Blog Widow." Judging from some of the reaction it has received, I think it's touched a deeper chord than many of the press articles on the phenomenon.
Here endeth the request.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Really, I'm not being lazy
I'm shocked to report this fact.
UPDATE: Something screwy is still going on, but I've found a way around the problem.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Tech types -- any explanation?
UPDATE: OK, this is apparently a function of a change in servers. Thanks to all for responding -- especially Mark Petrovic.
Sunday, December 28, 2003
And now for something completely different...
Does that mean no new content on this blog until 2004? Not exactly.
Inspired by Slate's Diary series, ESPN's "This is Sportscenter" documentary from the summer, and the stereotype of bloggers as "self-important," I'll be posting here on the behind-the-scenes thinking that go into guest-blogging. Why did I post on this topic but not that topic? What's it like to have the big megaphone? And other sorts of flotsam and jetsam that run through my brain when I'm blogging.
Think of it as if VH1 did a Behind the Blog episode -- it would be just like Behind the Music without the groupies, bimbos, boy toys, massive drug use, fisticuffs, arrests, and downward arc to the narrative (I hope).
In other words, more like C-SPAN's Booknotes.
Be warned -- musings like these can be scary to the naked eye.
But it's all worth it -- to the ten or so of you who care about such things.
Friday, December 26, 2003
I feel trendy, oh so trendy...
yourDictionary doesn't seem too thrilled with its number two word: "Blog: Web logs have come of age and, regrettably, this lexical mutation with them."
Tuesday, December 9, 2003
Boomshock has moved
Robert Tagorda finally had it with Blogger and has moved into much sleeker digs at his new home.
His latest post is a good take on how the media can twist official reports in a lot of different ways. In this case the report in UN predictions of population growth. Go check it out.
Friday, December 5, 2003
A (modest) step up from the Grammys
I'd been informed that I was actually nominated for something, so I clicked over to check out the myriad categories.
One question -- logically, how is it possible for Virginia Postrel to be nominated for Best Overall Blog, but not for Best Female Authored Blog? [What business is it of yours?--ed. Check out thethis map! I'm just sticking up for my country.]
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
All Things Considered on blogging
Last night NPRâs All Things Considered ran a story last night about how campaign blogs and âindependentâ blogs (their choice of words) will affect the 2004 election and politics more generally. Their abstract says:
You can listen to it here. Having already heard it, I have two thoughts:
Tomorrow morning on WBEZâs Eight Forty-Eight program (which airs from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM Chicago time), I will be commenting on blogs as a new media form. Blogs will be discussed, however.
Monday, November 17, 2003
I won't be able to access the Internet again until I get home. While you're waiting for more high-quality DanielDrezner.com output, feel free to post a comment saying what you'd like to see me blog more about.
UPDATE: After a very pleasant but all-too-brief lunch with Josh Chafetz in London, I'm not back in Chicago. Regular blogging to commence soon.
Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Blogosphere norms 1, legal wrangling 0
In the conclusion to the Atrios-Donald Luskin dust-up from last week, both Atrios and Donald Luskin have posted a joint statement on their blogs. The key thing is that Luskin has "retracting his demand letter."
Good for both of them. It's refreshing to see that informal norms of civility can surmount the urge to legalize disputes.
I only wish that Luskin had come to this conclusion earlier. In his puursuit of Krugman at all costs, he contributes to a situation that Eric Alterman's arguments in the Nation acquire a whiff of plausibility:
Now, Alterman conveniently omits the following facts:
However, because Alterman could point to Luskin as evidence for his broad swipe, he could safely ignore the more substantive critiques.
Alterman link via Andrew Sullivan, who points out at least one absurdity in the article.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Catching up on my correspondence
Two quick notes for today (go read this Mark Kleiman post for some background):
What I said last week about anonymous blogging?
Daniel W. Drezner
Dear Donald Luskin,
But dude, you need to chill. Legal action and the blogosphere do not mix well. At this point, your criticisms of Krugman are so over-the-top that they are counterproductive. Take a day off. Get some perspective.
Daniel W. Drezner
P.S. I've glanced through your blog. Intellectually, yes, you're stalking Paul Krugman.
That's stalking!! STALKING, STALKING, STALKING!!!
Goldberg tries to explain Luskin's actions as a result of being new to the medium:
Goldberg is right about Krugman but dead wrong about Luskin. He's not new to the web. In fact, today is the one-year anniversary of Luskin's blog. In terms of the blogosphere, that's a pretty long time to be around. Long enough to know the very simple rules of the game -- no tears, no legal action.
Camille Paglia's grandstanding narcissism
Camille Paglia's latest interview in Salon must be consumed in its entirety to appreciate the title of this post.
At one point, she characterizes Maureen Dowd as "that catty, third-rate, wannabe sorority queen." I can't read that without a chuckle, because Camille Paglia is Maureen Dowd gone to grad school.
I mean that with all its positive and negative implications. Paglia's rants are riveting when she talks about celebrity. When she talks about politics the first two adjectives that come to mind are "inane" and "dyspeptic."
Oh, and here's her take on blogs:
It is truly breathtaking to see someone take down the genre she claims to have invented. Paglia joins Darrell Hammond as the only people to successfully mimic Al Gore. Or, to use the pungent prose Paglia prefers:
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Should I take this as a compliment?
There's been a rash of denial of service (DoS) attacks on various blogs. Andrew Sullivan and Roger Simon believes these were conscious attacks on warblogs. Joe Katzman has a thorough discussion of this over at Winds of Change.
Since I was among those who experienced a series of blog outages over the past 72 hours, I guess I should take this as a compliment. The thing is, I might just be an example of collateral damage. I've noticed that whenever InstaPundit faces a DoS attack, so do Calpundit and myself. I wouldn't exactly label Kevin Drum as a warblogger, so this might just be the result of all three of us using the same hosting service.
So, from now on, if a DoS attack incapacitates this blog for longer than 24 hours, you can find me at my old Blogger site. The address is: http://drezner.blogspot.com. For those who really need a daily dose of Drezner [You poor sods--ed.], bookmark the backup.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
An apology to Gregg Easterbrook
I've been informed by both Brad DeLong and Gregg Easterbrook that the e-mail was a fake, so I'm crossed it out from my post.
My apologies for getting suckered. It was a disservice to you, the readers, as well as to Easterbrook. Gregg's cool with it -- as he put it in an e-mail, it's "the nature of a new medium." For those readers who prowl other blogs, if you see it there, let the blogger know it's a fake.
We'll return to our regularly scheduled blogging tomorrow.
UPDATE: See the comment below by John Hinderaker of the Power Line. All I can say is that I'm going on what DeLong and Easterbrook have told me via e-mail.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Last thoughts on Easterbrook
The New Republic's editors have just posted their response to the Easterbrook donnybrook. Worth a read. A key paragraph:
Mickey Kaus' post on the subject strikes a similar tone:
Finally, The Power Line reprints an e-mail from Easterbrook that is making the rounds of the blogosphere. [UPDATE: Easterbrook says this e-mail is not genuine. See this post for more.] Yesterday I was told to expect to be fired by ESPN. It hasn't happened yet, but seems likely [he has since been fired by ESPN]. Friday the top officers of ESPN refused several orders from Michael Eisner, the head of Disney, that I be fired. By the end of the day it seemed likely they would give in.... Yesterday I was told by an ally within Disney corporate that Eisner has assigned people to try to destroy the book [The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse] -- to get Time to drop the serial, to keep me off interview shows, even to get Random House to kill the book. In a published body of work that now extends to millions of words, I have written three foolish and wrong sentences. Now I've not only lost reputation and half my income (ESPN): what matters to me most in all the world, my book writing, is in jeopardy at the worst possible time. And I'm up against one of the richest, most vindictive men in the world. (emphasis added)
Yesterday I was told to expect to be fired by ESPN. It hasn't happened yet, but seems likely [he has since been fired by ESPN]. Friday the top officers of ESPN refused several orders from Michael Eisner, the head of Disney, that I be fired. By the end of the day it seemed likely they would give in....
Yesterday I was told by an ally within Disney corporate that Eisner has assigned people to try to destroy the book [The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse] -- to get Time to drop the serial, to keep me off interview shows, even to get Random House to kill the book. In a published body of work that now extends to millions of words, I have written three foolish and wrong sentences. Now I've not only lost reputation and half my income (ESPN): what matters to me most in all the world, my book writing, is in jeopardy at the worst possible time. And I'm up against one of the richest, most vindictive men in the world. (emphasis added)
As I've said before, Easterbrook must bear the costs of exercising his right to free speech. However, if this is true, then Eisner is enggaging in mass overkill.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh gets a response to his letter from ESPN. Go read it for a concrete example of the term "Orwellian."
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Gregg Easterbrook, anti-semitism, and ESPN
Despite yesterday's post about the Malaysian Prime Minister's graceless remarks, I don't blog all that much about anti-Semitism. Alas, this will have to be the second post in the last 48 hours on the subject.
I just learned about the accusations of anti-Semitism against Gregg Easterbrook for his tirade against Miramax, Quentin Tarantino, and "Kill Bill" on his TNR blog.
Having read the controversial post, I concluded:
What genuinely puzzles me is that Easterbrook is hardly a novice in his writings on religion. He is, however, a novice blogger, which might be the best explanation. Andrew Sullivan phrases it nicely in his Inside Dish:
Eric Alterman makes a similar argument:
[Easterbrook should have taken your advice!--ed. Well, that post also recommended blogging about religion, so maybe he did.]
As a big fan of Easterbrook's writings in general, and his Tuesday Morning Quarterback column for ESPN in particular, I've never come across anything else in his voluminous set of writings that even hinted at anti-Semitism. When someone without a track record of these utterances apologizes, I tend to think that's the end of it.
However, according to Roger Simon, Easterbrook has been fired from ESPN for what he wrote on his blog. Glenn Reynolds has a collection of responses across the blogosphere, as well as ESPN.com's Orwellian response. Meryl Yourish -- who has been unrelenting in flogging Easterbrook for his screw-up -- thinks ESPN has screwed up.
I tend to agree. This situation is not analagous to Rush Limbaugh's. Easterbrook's gaffe does not appear to have been on ESPN, and he's apologized. Limbaugh made his statements on ESPN, did not really apologize, and then refused to appear on Sportscenter to defend himself.
[A side note: the above graf is based on Glenn Reynolds assertion that this decision was, "especially bizarre given that the whole flap was about something that wasn't even published at ESPN." I'm not completely sure that's true -- a lot of Easterbrook's initial posts at Easterblogg appeared in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback posts. However, since ESPN has erased all of his posts, I can't check on my own and will assume that what Reynolds says is true. UPDATE: I just found the cached version of the last two TMQ columns at Google -- and "Kill Bill" is not mentioned in either of them.]
Think ESPN screwed up? Let them know about it.
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Crescat Sententia has moved
Will Baude, Amanda Butler, and the rest of the gang have some fancy new digs -- there are gargoyles and props from Richard Posner!!
Go check it out.
Friday, September 26, 2003
DanielDrezner.com gets results from Eric Zorn!!
In a previous post on j-blogs, I wrote:
In response, Eric has written an excellent blog post. You should read the whole thing, but Zorn provides a new and interesting analogy on how editors should think of j-blogs:
Really, I'm serious, read the whole thing.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
The Sacramento Bee responds
At least one reader responded to my suggestion [You mean my suggestion--ed. It's all good] on how to respond to the Sacramento Bee's ombudsman Tony Marcano's distaste for letting Daniel Weintraub's blog go unedited -- they e-mailed Marcano.
To which the ombudsman replied:
I'm not going to reprint the reader's entire e-mail to the ombudsman, but the only thing in it that was remotely close to insulting was the final question: "When did the the Bee turn so gutless?"
Now I'll admit that I probably wouldn't have phrased it that harshly, but given that the ombudsman's job is to hear complaints, doesn't this response suggest someone too thin-skinned for the job?
Undeterred, our trusty reader pressed forward in his search for a response. He finally succeeded in getting a real reply from David Holwerk, who is Weintraub's editor. Here's his reply:
This is a pretty decent response in my book. Good editors deal with good writers by improving the form of the writing so that the content is clear. I'm not a regular reader of Weintraub's blog, so only time will tell if this is what actually happens. As a statement of what an editor does, however, Holwerk's reply sounds like a promising start.
Of course, Mickey Kaus has his own thoughts on the matter:
Hmmmm.... given that the Bee's editorial staff also has created their own group blog, this may be a case of newsroom subcultures clashing.
Definitely click on the Kaus link, by the way. It's a long and information-rich post.
Monday, September 22, 2003
The unstable equilibrium of j-blogs
The Sacramento Bee has decided to "edit" Daniel Weintraub's blog. According to their ombudsman:
This has prompted much gnashing of teeth across the blogosphere. The usual suspects -- Mickey Kaus, Glenn Reynolds, and Robert Tagorda -- are all over it. Kaus does the best job of identifying the problem with the Bee's "reform":
That's a lovely sentiment, but my strong suspicion is that newspaper editors will be congenitally incapable of following through on it. Editors, like many managers, tend towards risk-averse behavior. Editing a blog lowers the probability of stepping into an unwanted controversy, while allowing a journalist to roam unfettered in the blogosphere has little upside.
I agree that it's a shame that Weintraub's blog is being muffled -- but I also think that this incident is endemic to the unstable nature of the j-blog phenomenon. [How do you know -- you're not a journalist!!--ed. Call it my "right now" take. But I may be wrong. Eric Zorn, I'm looking in your direction to correct me if I am] And I'm not sure that anything can be done about it.
[What if bloggers and their readers e-mailed the Bee's ombudsman to point out that controversy swings both ways?--ed. What a subversive thought!! And you, an editor no less!!]
UPDATE: Well, it does appear as if bloggers have the power to get sportswriters fired at the Sacramento Bee (link via David Pinto).
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
More blogging advice
In the wake of the advice I gave to new bloggers last week, several others have posted some valuable advice that's worth clicking on:
1) Electric Venom offers her top ten lessons after six months of blogging. Numbers nine, six, and five seem particularly relevant, but her #1 lesson is the most important:
2) Wizbang offers some advice on how to get an Instalanche. He makes a very important point on Glenn Reynolds' role in the blogosphere:
One other comment if you read his post: Kevin is probably the first person alive to believe I have "a cool last name." [UPDATE: Amish Tech Support offers a different route to attract Glenn's attention. And Instapundit gives his own take]
3) John Scalzi offers some thoughts about the enterprise -- which is a professional gig for him -- after five years of blogging (link via Matthew Yglesias). Two comments of his stood out in particular:
Academic freedom and blogs
Earlier this month, Indiana University professor Eric Rasmusen got into some hot water with with his blog. He wrote a post asserting that homosexuals should not be put in positions of moral leadership over children because, "I think they are attracted to people under age 18 more than heterosexual males are..."
Needless to say, this prompted some hostile reactions, which trickled up to Rasmusen's dean in the business school. There was then a discussion between Rasmusen and his dean about whether the blog should be moved off IU's server. Rasmusen volunteered to move it himself, and did so until his dean informed him that the blog did not violate policy, at which point Rasmusen moved back. During this brouhaha, there was some debate in the blogosphere about the relative merits of online academic freedom. But with the dean's decision, things were dying down.
Today, however, IU Chancellor Sharon Brehm upped the ante by arguing that the university needs to revisit it's policy of supporting blogs. Press reports are here and here. Rasmusen reprints the entirety of Brehm's comments (and his response) on his blog. Here's an excerpt of the chancellor's comments:
My thoughts on this are pretty simple:
If Brehm really read what she said -- and what Mill said -- then there is no need for a review. The "role of these personal web pages in our communal and intellectual life" is to promote the free and full expression of ideas by professors and students alike. As Mill himself would point out, the cure for promulgated ideas that are believed to be offensive or wrong is more speech, not less.
Brehm exercised that right and encouraged others to do the same -- in, among other formats, on blogs. What need there is for a review beyond that is truly beyond me.
[Wait, wait, you forgot the ritual denunciation of Rasmusen's views on homosexuality.--ed. That's completely irrelevant to this question. As an aside, however, it's worth highlighting a fact that Louis Menand pointed out in The Metaphysical Club. One of the triggering events for the emergence of academic freedom was when a Stanford University professor was fired for making a speech that contradicted co-founder Jane Stanford's views on the matter. The professor made a eugenicist argument against Asian immigration.]
Friday, September 12, 2003
Advice to new bloggers
1) Unsure about starting a blog? What do you have to lose? It takes ten minutes and zero dollars to set up a blog on Blogger. [UPDATE: Blogger just announced that they are adding most of their Blogger Pro features into their regular Blogger program, so now you get even more for nothing.] The real question is, why not start a blog? At worst, you'll run out of things to say in two weeks and delete it. Trust me, if my brother can blog, anyone can.
2) If you decide you like blogging, then switch to Moveable Type: Boy, have I been converted. I didn't know what I was missing until I made the switch. Comparing MT to any version of Blogger is like comparing any BMW to a Saturn. Yes, the latter is a fine car (I own one), but the former is much more fun. [What about Typepad?--ed. Never used it, so I can't comment. However, Tom Maguire just switched over, so it must have some virtues.]
3) Think quality over quantity. Yes, some bloggers have the ability to post in triple figures per day at a consistently high level. You, like me, are probably not one of those people. In baseball terms, you don't have to swing at every pitch -- wait for an issue or idea that's right over the plate.
4) You can still edit your text once it's posted. Blog enthusiasts repeatedly emphasize that the blogosphere's comparative advantage is the lack of editors. That's true as far as it goes, but that doesn't mean that once you've posted something it's sacrosanct. In the hour after I initially post something, I will often revise it, to clean up typos, correct my grammar, add relevant links, and bulk up my arguments with more detailed arguments or supporting facts (within reason). Yes, there are no outside editors in the blogosphere, but the best bloggers have well-honed internal editing systems -- and they use them on a regular basis.
5) Write about religion. Or better yet, Harry Potter and religion. Forget Britney Spears -- it's religious controversy that sells. Well, that plus Harry Potter; I have a healthy new respect for the legions of online Harry Potter fans that came swarming to my site after the leading Harry Potter blog, The Leaky Cauldron, linked to my post on the subject.
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Links for the day
Will Saletan and Andrew Sullivan are having a debate on Bush's Sunday speech and whether Operation Iraqi Freedom is integral to the war on terror. As loyal readers are aware, I'm mostly on Saletan's side here, but not completely.
The Chicago Tribune has a good front-pager on U.S. efforts to build a modern highway between Kabul and Kandahar. According to the story, the effort has already reduced the travelling time between the two cities from two days to ten hours. When it's finished, the time will be shaved to six hours.
Oh, and everyone at OxBlog seems to have stopped moving around and started posting again. Always worth a read.