Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Talking to the Right People: I think Razor is on to a simple point of institutional psychology. Recall the old story about the liberal writer who, in 1972, gaped at Nixon's victory (roughly): "How could Nixon win? I don't know anyone who voted for him." Unconscious self-diagnosis, that. Any medium has the danger of becoming an echo chamber, and the blog world is no different -- probably more so. This is not to disparage, or to overgeneralize, but when I look at the blog world, I don't see much cross-pollenation. (There are exceptions: Jeff Jarvis, Michael Totten, and Roger Simon are as likely to have socialist readers as pre-emptive warrior readers. And Reynolds is ecumenical; hell, he's linked off the official Dean blog.) You get the feeling that the National Review types aren't reading the New Republic -- and vice versa. They're not hearing the case argued against them, so they never respond to it. I can understand not having time for the haters: Hell, I could put on my bein'-a-dick hat and write the daily posts for Atrios, the Dem Underground creeps, and the Clinton-hating VRWC crowd without working up to a burn because they all repeat the same thing over and over. None of them spends any time listening.

Blogging is like bullshitting with your buddies. You make your predictions, state your opinions, and take your lumps. Occasionally an interesting media point crops up (such as this one, Jarvis suggesting that the Dean blog/web movement is -- surprise!!! -- an echo chamber). Other than that, I don't put much store by the "blogging is changing the media world" storyline. Sure, everyone can post his two cents online now. Simple economics tells you the likely quality of free products. There are diamonds in the rough, but don't stake your house on any of it -- because, in the end, this is the electronic equivalent of handing out your silly tract at the airport or Central Park.

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