[promoted by BooMan. Window, schmindow.]
I have been thinking recently about the future of blogging. I only became involved in it as an activity in the middle of last year. It is still new enough for it to hold fascination for me as an exciting means of communication.
It was a key time to become involved. Howard Dean had just shown how the blogs were an untapped source of instant communication that could be powerfully utilised to advance causes. The subsequent presidential campaign showed how it could invigorate the grass roots of a political party, becoming a powerful daily reinforcement of both message and morale. It helped turn people into party activists, it raised money for candidates and it helped get the vote out.
Suddenly, the other media outlets sat up and began to take notice. Something powerful and unpredictable had been unleashed that challenged the established order of previous forms of communication.
Exciting times, indeed.
After the election of George Bush, a change occurred, if not in blogging itself, then in my reaction to it.
At first it was comforting to mourn a devastating result in the company of others of like mind. There is an inexplicable strength to be derived from a huge mass hug across the internet. Equally enjoyable was to share in the enormous rant as Bush began to spend the political capital he claimed to have acquired.
What a huge rant it was, like a great roar of anger and disbelief across the cybernet. What a great release was to be had from being a part of it all.
The problem lay in the fact that this rant kept going on. And on. And on. The spring sunshine came to the Welsh hills just in time to avoid an all-pervasive gloom settling over the whole of this area. I began to believe that my daily switching on of my computer was creating a portal that allowed the black mist of the outrage and loathing being expressed on the blogs across the world to escape into the atmosphere of this part of Wales.
Is this then, the end point for our experiment in blogging? I think not and I was glad to read today that Booman does not think so either. In his introduction to the magnificent diary by Susan Gardner and Todd Johnston on the Guckert/Gannon affair, he wrote:
“This is the prototype of what Frog-Marching will become. Professional reporting done after a collaborative, online, open-source investigation.”
If he is right, then we will be witnessing the next generation of blogging. It will have grown up and become a source in its own right.
There is a limitation to something that simply takes extracts from the conventional media and then passes comments, like the old colonel over the breakfast table at his suffering wife, as he manages to smear more marmalade on the copy of his Times than on the toast that he has just buttered. This is not reporting. It is at worst indulgent bar room talk with expletives and at best a fairly erudite exposition of second-hand facts.
What Susan, Todd and the rest of their team did was to read between the lines, to go out there and explore and fill in the blank spaces and reveal a new truth and meaning. They extended our understanding of what we were seeing and exposed some new facts. Great work and rightly praised by Booman.
Hang on, there, I can hear you say. We can’t all be on-line reporters unearthing information with the passion, dedication and commitment shown by Susan and Todd. Of course not. Yet it has been your reporting in the past that first got me addicted to coming on these sites. So let me explain what this special reporting of yours has been and which I hope will become as much a part of blogging as the type shown by the Gannon/Guckert team.
It was not the rants or the opinions or being the first to announce breathlessly in a diary the breaking news on the AP wire that made blogging seem such an exiting new source of information. It was the straight forward telling by you as an individual of your experience whilst out campaigning for Kerry, of what happened at the rally, of how you organised yourself, your kids, your meals in helping to get out the vote and the conversation in the shopping mall that brought home to you how other people were feeling.
This to me is as much a part of the future of blogging that Booman envisions as any other sort of reporting. It is not simply commenting on the major proceedings of the world or the much less desirable commenting on the conventional media’s commenting on these events. It is reporting on how these happenings and enactments impact on you, your families and friends, on your work and your community that will give real impact to blogging in the future. This is true, honest reporting and it is of a type that the talking heads on CNN either ignore or at best give a twenty second exposure whilst covering it with a layer of smart opinion.
You will all have your memories of the great posts made by our friends on here that moved you or increased your understanding because they were a simple account of something that happened to that person. For me, one these will be an email that Edis Beavan (Saugatojas on here) sent to me today that was at once profoundly disturbing because it described what war can do to people and, at same time, uplifting and hopeful because it showed how some can rise even above such awful circumstances. I will give an extract:
It referred to the Abu Ghraib and torture scandals now afflicting us and quoted a German Newspaper from 1946 editorialising in wonder at the prosecution of British occupation troops for abusing German prisoners. This prosecution and the positive shock it gave to Germans played a real and significant part n the re-thinking of Germany, and so of all Europe.
I wonder if this is a report on something my Dad did?
He told me that some months after the war ended he came across a camp which seemed to have no guards at the gates or perimeters . He went into the camp and found German military prisoners crawling around in a state of collapse. In the guardroom were British troops. He asked the officer what was happening and why were there no guards. “They don’t have the strength to escape’ said the officer ‘we don’t feed them’.
My dad had them all arrested and they were tried and convicted. I wonder if that was the incident reported in the newspapers.
My dad was not an angel, but he was a man of integrity and what he did was an expression of our better human responses in bad times, and an example of the best patriotic instincts of the indefinable British.
When our government now apparently condones torture and mistreatment of prisoners they betray my Dad’s memory, and the honour and integrity of so many who have given rather a lot for this country. And deny some of the better things this country has done to set aside less admirable moments. I despise the British Government that weasels its way to this act of betrayal.
Now this is reporting, reporting that has more meaning for me than anything that I read in the New York Times or the Guardian today. I hope that this is an increasing part of the future of blogging.
One of the great realisations in teaching has been that history is not just about the great events of Kings and Queens but about the lives of ordinary people and how they were lived and how they struggled and how they survived. When historians come to the internet archives to mine for information on the reality of today, it is in the accounts of your lives that you post on here that will grab their attention, not the outraged diary about last night’s Fox News item. You can all become reporters on Boomantribune in tomorrow’s grown up blog.
(I started out to write my first front page diary that Booman kindly said that I could do but the subject I wanted to speak about did not seem right, the message too complex, and the diary too long, and the writing too dense. I missed my 3-4 p.m. GMT time slot. So I guess I may never have a front page diary, but am happy enough if someone gets to read it here. It seems like a familiar home and where I really belong!)