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June 9, 2003
WHEN BLOGGERS RULEBy Greyhawk
PART I The Attack of the Fiddling Kleagle
Here's a far-fetched idea for your consideration. Democrats are hoping beyond hope to find some angle to take Dubya down one or two notches in the polls. Never relying on instinct or leadership ability when in unknown situations, they've always checked poll results before taking any action whatsoever.
Now, we know the Dems are fully aware of the Blogosphere (Republicans, too)
Note this timeline:
May 1-5: Almost immediately, some right-leaning Blogs begin expressing doubts as to the wisdom of this event. And they raise very valid points, absolutely worthy of discussion. That discussion rages for several days through several comment sections of several very well-read Blogs. The lefty anti-Bush commenters have obvious responses deserving of immediate dismissal. But several pro-Bush types still express displeasure. Ignoring the envy-fueled hate posts from the left, the debate is actually one of the finest I've seen in the Blogosphere.
One week later: After consulting with polls and spin doctors, the Democrats boldly and decisively weigh in on the issue. Byrd and Waxman eventually receive a level of scorn rarely seen on the political stage. Bloggers take them to task. Having once again thoroughly miscalculated the mood of America, they rather quickly shut up and go away.
Byrd, it would seem, is the new sacrificial lamb of the Democratic Party. He can be portrayed as the "fiery old warrior going forth to battle the forces of evil" in the mainstream press. They can be counted on to enthusiastically endorse any Democratic Party idea, regardless of how utterly void of common sense or careful forethought. So Byrd gets to be the attack dog. If, as Standard bearer for the assault on George Bush, his championed cause gains the Democrats ground, then Hooray for good old Bob! He's our boy! If , however, he's shot down in a flame of public opinion, then, well, you know, he's actually kind of an out of touch old geezer anyhow, and definitely not-the-future-of-the-party, right?
Really, we're talking about the fiddling kleagle here; a man who's ready to don his drool bucket. A man who must be checked daily by his handlers to ensure he didn't put his depends on over his pants. At least the Dems can be assured of his vote. Even as he drifts into senility he'll be casting votes against Republicans, convinced they are trying to rob him of his non-existent social security benefits. And of course, once he's too enfeebled to make it to the polls he'll have lots of folks willing to vote in his name. I'm sure, long after his death Byrd will be a frequent voter for the democratic cause.
But for now, he's merely the living trial balloon. The expendable one, and as a bonus he's from a state that will not likely vote a Republican into anything for quite some time. So back to my crackpot theory; bear with me.
Suppose the Democrats, in checking public opinion in order to develop dynamic leadership strategy, note the minor ripple in the Blog world and wonder if they've found some chink in the armor?
"Hey," says Terry McAuliffe, "lets get 'em!"
"Hold on Terry, " says a less bold James Carville, "we can't risk ourselves. We're too important to the cause. We need a sacrificial lamb"
"You mean a sacrificial Byrd!" Terry fires back with a gleam in his eye. And the rest is history.
All this is imaginary, of course. But the subsequent history is not. Byrd did his best to stir the pot, but no one cares. The Dems have doubly miscalculated.
One: Byrd is intensely despised across America; with no redeeming qualities his outcries garner sympathy only for his opponents. This will not change. It's of great benefit to Republicans that he wasn't forced out as a consequence of his racist statements; now every time he approaches a microphone decent people can cry "Look, a racist! What will it say? Let's listen so that we may gain a better understanding of wrong-headed thinking."
Two: The carrier landing was appreciated by the military and the public. And no one was overly concerned that it cost money for the commander to visit the troops. Even the moderate lefties could grasp this. "Find a real cause, please? You're embarrassing us." The sacrificial Byrd part could kick in if the backlash is strong enough, but it's not, and the issue fades.
Recently there's been a bit of chest thumping in the Blog community regarding the idea that "Blogs brought down Trent Lott" - I would hesitate to go that far. But is it at all possible that Blogs are looked at by policy makers, as another entry point into the American mind? I submit this for consideration: that said evaluators of the collective psyche would be remiss not to look at Blogs for this purpose. Certainly not as a final solution, but as I said, another reference point. And, perhaps, one that is growing in importance.
Consider the Blogosphere as comparable, perhaps, to talk radio of the 1980's - a presence on the political landscape, looked at as not too stable just yet. The difference, of course, is that talk radio of the '80s was very few (1?) people, while the Blogosphere is a modern day Wild Wild West of disparate ideas.
TO BE CONTINUED: Part Two: The most Dangerous Place on Earth?
Posted by Greyhawk / June 9, 2003 8:30 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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