I’d like to have a place on the Internet where I can go and talk hard core theory, strategy and tactics. Where reflection is central to political discourse. I’d like to be challenged, and to challenge others. And I’d like to be part of learning community that is driven by creation – and not reaction.
The Internet is a wonderful way to get ideas out there. It allows ordinary folks to reach thousands of others, and that is a wonderful thing. But the Internet fills up with garbage quickly. Even when a site is dedicated to self-regulation, one person’s treasure is garbage to someone else.
The larger a community becomes, the more reflective of a commercial enterprise the community will become. This is because commercial enterprises (up until recently) are driven by the marketplace. The theory of marketing is that your organization (corporation) will make the most money when it develops products and services that give the market what it wants.
You want lots of people to read a diary? The Internet market seems to like these elements:
- Timely (as in the “first to report that the commercial media has reported something)
- Emotionally charged (fear, disgust, anger and joy are the biggies)
- Stylish — conforms to the blog style
- Appeal to authority — either by citing an authority, being about an authority, reporting on the commercial media’s reporting, or by being a well-known writer
Perhaps most important is that you need to get people to react. The Internet seems like its media-niche is going to be based almost entirely on the principles of behaviorism and addiction. Through intermittent reinforcement (charge of emotion or recognition of a comment or point), the blogger medium can be very addictive. This addictive nature of the blogging medium is totally unlike any other text-media (except, perhaps, porn). Successful sites have learned how to plug into this principle – I suspect largely through trial and error and “natural selection.”
The consequences of this are not mundane. When considering the role that “heavy users” have in filtering information through blogs and viral email campaigns, and when adding to this the additional role of light users who either forward or read a tidbit based on the emotional charge we have replaced professional editors and information gatekeepers with a massive addiction-based and emotionally-charged system. As the commercial media looks more and more to blogs for news, this new filtering system is taking over much of our information dissemination.
What’s great about the Internet is that it doesn’t matter that all of this is going on, for you (or me) to get a lot of good stuff from the Internet. The Internet allows each user to self-select, to exist in discrete parallel information spaces – allowing the serious reader seeking complexity and challenge to co-occupy the space with someone looking for a good time, someone in serious Internet addiction mode, and someone just passing through. While the overall system may be changing how information is moved into the national spotlight, people can still go into all of the corners and secret hideaways to find there own spaces of interest.
I am not interested in attacking blogs and blogging in general. I find this medium very interesting – and I learn and take great pleasure in it. But I would like to have a niche where more thoughtful, and less reactive, discussion is going on. Perhaps we can make this little spot that place. I, for one, am curious and will stick around to see what happens.
Random other thought: I really think that those of us who post on dKos as well should be generally not cross-posting at the two sites. I, for one, will be writing unique material at both sites and think that will make both places better.