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June 15, 2003
WHEN BLOGGERS RULEBy Greyhawk
Ancient Rome had its Forum; where people met, conducted business and debated the issues of the day. How fitting then that modern Rome has its own Forum...the Internet!
Transform yourself into a being of pure energy, pure thought, void of face and form, and travel electronically to a meeting place of ideas and expressions. What a marvelous opportunity, to have one's ideas expressed in a way that allows both criticism and support, while eliminating the potential for judgment based on the messenger; appearance and gender masked if you desire. Age? Not a factor. Fifteen or fifty, it's your thoughts and your ability to express them that matter, and nothing else. Race? Who cares? Ethnicity? Non-factor. If you come up with the solution to the crisis in Israel you can post it anonymously for the world, without being dismissed for being a 14 year old Guamanian girl.
Even those Bloggers fortunate enough to not need an assumed name are still little more then names (and sometimes faces) to the vast majority of their readers, with no real connection as corporate human beings. Proof? Those readers will say things to them via their comments or their own Blogs that they would never dare utter to a neighbor over the fence or a co-worker at an office party.
I fall into the category of "anonymous blogger." Strangely enough the reason I do this is so that I can give my real and honest opinion. I wish I didn't have to, and some day I won't, but for now such is life. You can, however, get a pretty accurate general depiction of who I am by reading my posts for a while. Many other Bloggers fall into this same category for much the same reason.
Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Blogosphere opens the door for the Troll, annoying creatures who move through this system attacking and spreading hate. Anonymity in some cases foments viciousness, perhaps a trait suppressed in their corporal existence. "Troll" is just too cute a word for some of them. Read every Blog and it's comments posted on a given day (admittedly impossible) and you may swear that a significant number are written by people actually diametrically opposed to what they espouse; leading one to consider they exist merely to generate contempt for their subject matter. (Do note, however, the vast majority of Blogs and comments can be taken at face value.)
Who knows what inspires a Troll? A thrill at being annoying? A response to being ignored in the real world? Perhaps, I like to believe, though, that The Troll returns to the real world, having acted out their fantasy life in the Blogosphere, perhaps a little happier and better adjusted for having vented their frustrations here. Good for them. Maybe they won't kill coworkers now.
Of course, even the Troll can't ruin the Blogosphere as a great place to "meet" people. The desire of many in this regard is twofold; 1) to embrace those of like mind, to reinforce that you are not alone in thoughts and opinions and thus not the last sane person on earth; or 2) to understand those of differing opinion; to get some grasp, if you will, of what exactly went wrong in their developmental process, without having to offend a "real" person. Child abuse? Jilted at the Altar? What is the fundamental defect in your nature?!
(Of course, never to my knowledge has anyone in the Blogosphere convinced another to shout "Eureka! I was wrong!" on any issue of any merit. Even in the post-Iraq-war light of day the doomsayers, the "quagmire crowd," the "prophets of jihad" and the "WWIII tin foil hat brigade" are still claiming they were right all along, that there never were any WMDs!)
Ahhh...but find those like-minded individuals, your spiritual soul mates, and fly! The only people who think like me are other geniuses, don't you know?
Thus, the Blog reader is forced to become a thorough critic of new products and persona in the Blogosphere. Does this person bring something new to discuss? If not, does this person have something new and useful to add to the discussion? Does this person have a fresh perspective, an interesting voice?
Because we are all singers, after all. Some of Opera, some of Rock, some Jazz, some the Blues. Some are Rappers, and some Country. I respect the best artists of all genres. I have no time for the talentless, unless they have potential. I despise pretenders. Sing only that which is true to your heart. And practice developing that voice! Your thoughts on a topic are pointless if your voice is Roseanne's and your song is the National Anthem.
The counterpoint to this of course, is the beautiful voice that spews hate. Like the Siren calling to all to come and crash on the rocks of bigoted or hateful ideologies. The Siren, then, is a nastier creature then a mere Troll. Of course, succumbing briefly to such a voice does no permanent harm to an individual, especially in the virtual forum. Perhaps the experience leaves them a bit wiser for future events, events that matter in the real world.
So what? Why care? Because the presence of the Siren, and the Troll, and the myriad of other less then savory characters that populate the Blogosphere, while providing half the "fun" are also the reason that the majority of the Blogosphere is still not ready for prime time.
Let's listen briefly then, to a Siren's song together.
The Siren, of course, can be a person or an idea, or both. An example? The Santorum case.
Many Bloggers from all over the political spectrum were quick to line up and denounce Santorum for what appeared to be a rabid anti-gay viewpoint. Santorum provided right-leaning Bloggers a chance to demonstrate their Libertarian, moderate views (since most are Republican on most other issues) and enabled them to express their unequivocal support for human rights. For Santorum bashers, however, there are three facts that are convenient to ignore.
1. At face value Santorum wasn't speaking directly about Gay Rights, he was addressing a larger legal point within the specific case. Attaching additional meaning and arguing against it is not valid debate. In fact, it's counter productive as it's just a way to avoid the real issue. This tactic is transparent to all but a few practitioners, and is unfortunately all too commonly seen here.
2, Ashcroft and Santorum are not leading death squads into peoples' bedrooms and hauling them off for unacceptable behavior.
Although Texas rarely enforced its antisodomy law, officers decided to book the two men and jail them overnight on charges of "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." They were each fined $200 plus court costs.
3. The entire attack on Santorum was orchestrated by the wife of John Kerry's campaign manager, and Kerry was the first to denounce his fellow Senator, thus demonstrating his unequivocal support for human rights. The last paragraph of the Fox story linked above:
Some Republican sources were quietly raising questions about the reporter who first quoted Santorum and who continued to report on the conflict it created. Lara Jakes Jordan is married to Jim Jordan, a former DSCC official who now manages Kerry's presidential campaign.
Now one would expect the left to lap this attack stuff up without question. When "centrists" or "moderates" do this it's disappointing, and leads one to question their "moderation". Expressing open mindedness by condemning people who think differently then you based on unquestioning acceptance of biased news reports is hardly the hallmark of intelligent public debate. Regardless of who's right or wrong, the questions I raised were not addressed by any of Santorum's many attackers in the Blogosphere. The shots taken at him came from the hip.
The Supreme Court, of course, is being called to consider its position on interfering with State laws as much as with the specific issue. By the way, quiz question for those who are outraged by any aspect of this case. How did the Supreme Court rule?
(Those who expressed great and terrible outrage at the behavior of a US Senator for speaking his mind can now contemplate their real motives. I give you a minute to shout Eureka! and then I'll accept your thanks.)
In spite of much effort the Blogosphere did not bring down Senator Santorum. Shooting from the hip is rarely effective. A tempest in a teapot, and a perfect counter to those who claim Trent Lott's head is mounted on their wall. The voters of Pennsylvania will rightfully have the final say on the Senator's fate. All those Bloggers who are registered to vote there are encouraged to do so.
TO BE CONTINUED>>>
Posted by Greyhawk / June 15, 2003 9:00 PM | 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...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com