Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Self-Obsessed Ruminations on Blogging

My recent stint at Atrios's blog made me think about political blogging, its objectives, the ways it's done and the different types of political blogs that exist. By these types I don't mean the wingnut blogs and the sane ones but rather a division of blogs into those which hunt the latest news items, preferably shocking ones, those which discuss in detail a particular item of news, those which are columnists and/or humorists and those which arouse the right emotions in the readers and the commenters. All these categories overlap, of course (reality is never as simple as the wingnuts, say, believe), but most blogs seem to specialize in one or two of these tasks.

The readers pick the blogs they like best and then frequent those, and in doing so they reveal something about what they value in political commentary and dialogue. All this has several consequences to the writers of blogs: one can't just change the tone overnight and expect approval, one can't guest blog on another blog as one would at home unless the two are of the same type, and the manner in which ones blog is classified will depend on the classifier's ideas about what constitutes politics.

I've mentioned before that much political commentary on the blogs is gossip, or it would be called gossip if it was carried out by "old wives". But it's called political commentary because it's done by political bloggers. There's nothing wrong about gossip; it's fun and it often tells us useful things, too, but it would be nice if we all could see gossip when it happens, especially because sometimes the gossip is equated with political commentary, and this totally omits blogs which apply political science principles to wider events or which see politics in our daily lives. You know, like quite a few feminist blogs.

Then there is the length issue. Some readers like to read long posts, most, I suspect, don't, but the ways one condenses a post have an impact on its message and on the tone of the message. Doing it is more an art than a science, and so is the whole question of the tone of the blog. Anger is not a bad thing in politics, especially righteous anger, but recently I've started feeling that we unleash anger which is then just circling around in the empty space above our heads. The anger needs to be directed into useful channels of activity, but this is hard to do from a blog unattached to any official political organs. The action alerts that I get from Hecate, the goddess of the cross-roads, help a little in this, but I'd like to find a better way. Unfocused anger is also destructive in the long-run, even when it arises from righteous causes.

The glory of the blogs, for me at least, is that I can ruminate on these issues right here! And nobody can take my paycheck away for that or get me fired! Still, blogs are not only for their writers but all those who read them, and if the process becomes a monologue something is lost. Even I like to hear comments from others, and I'm an uppity goddess!

Well, this is very self-obsessed as I mentioned in the title, and if you are still reading you probably know that I like to go on and on and analyze things to shreds. So posting on Eschaton was quite a stretch in some ways (in many ways, really, as it's a wonderful place and I was awe-inspired by both Atrios and my fellow guest bloggers), because the tone there is to prepare a short and telling information bomb for the discussion that will then happen. The experience was very good for me. But I'm not going to condense everything on this blog, because, as I said, I like to go on and on.