I wanted to have a look at whether blogs provide much of a difference to the views generally in front of me in mainline media and what I churn through as an academic. The answer on both counts is ‘not really’.
In looking at the above I did find sites of interest (Inspector Gadget, Ambush Predator, David Malone – plenty other others) and a lot to agree with, make me angry and enjoy. Not whatever it was I hoped for, but I’m much more likely to get my laptop out on a train or in a hotel bedroom than bother with a newspaper of television news. A touch of Hogday or Dickiebo does you good.
My own blog has been done with little thought. It’s a bit like the wall in front of you teaching. You get to feel it isn’t worth the effort a lot of the time. I’ve long been convinced we are over concerned with words and need a new technology of production more can understand for a ‘university of life’. Blogging lacks what can happen in a classroom engaged with itself – hardly surprising when most of being human flows well underneath words. The ‘Penelope On The Toilet’ of the blogosphere is as distressing as ‘Cheryl In The News’.
I usually find my plans have nothing to do with what I find and that action reveals more to me about myself than anything else. I am now revolted by the world I live in and the difficulties of doing any more than act in it rather than change what can be done. Finding the technology we could already be using to change away from a politics like grim Pot Noodle advertising already subsumed in the same is disappointing, but hardly surprising. Today, a new university for people who can afford to get their non-scientific kids educated has been announced – not ‘a university of hyperspace’. This is very sad – though maybe it will be able to afford me!
What I have picked up (apart from the pleasure of agile brains at work) is that some kind of genuine hyper-text is possible. One could write and produce video in this medium with a great deal of referencing layer below – and in principle this could be really accessible to all – though there is no business model of this and it would run against existing publishing interests.
To give the briefest idea of this, imagine I’m arguing that the Falklands’ Fandango was never about the islands themselves, but part of a neocon strategy in which Argentina’s military strength was degraded over several years and our military used for the purposes of securing financial gains in Argentina, its drugs’ trade and future access to the resources in the Antarctic. No need to agree. I could cite a couple of hundred references to this – in the new system they wouldn’t be dead on the page or cost thousands to get hold of. They would be available ‘hyper’, linked to my core argument. The whole argument would be linked to its critique too.
This is very much what does not happen now. Whilst I’m thinking very technically here (if not writing so), one could imagine a statistical version of Ambush Predator. JuliaM finds many examples of inane public administration – it’s possible to imagine the databasing of her anecdotal approach done in such a manner that would let us know what real processes her sharp eye and wit reveal (not AP’s – the state of our administrative processes). My research does not find competence as our base, but incompetence, but to get at this in a statistical manner (which isn’t about numbers as in official crap) we need widespread, collated work.
Currently, any half-assed prat can be an ‘expert’ through our university or pundit system. You must have seen them. The ‘psychologists’ who come on and tell us teenagers get pregnant because they are driven to sex. Supreme Court judges with definitions of objectivity so inane they claim to be ‘of the people’ whilst declaring ‘resource poor’ childhoods that included public school.
Our ejukation system is now so good you’d expect no one to entertain the expense of sending their kids to public school – yet this is on the rise, as is buying houses to get kids to the right school. A university for posh kids opens. Of course, it offer bursaries for the ‘poor’ – it would – it’s buying bright kids to help ejukate the richer ones. It’s observations like this, or AP’s ‘there goes another one’ that should be the base of statistical reasoning – not bloated government claims produced in ‘quartile-speak’ by functionaries.
It’s encouraging that people can blog material as good as and better than mainline media. My disappointments may lie in wanting too much. I want to bring down the mainline and not see it replaced – at least not directly. There is now an alternative currency (Bitcoin) of hyper-space. My guess is more is changing than I’ve spotted.
Bitcoin might be a way of paying each other and developing a blog economy, though if it works beyond its current stage it will be crushed. Interesting though that even such stuff as money could be destroyed through hyper-connection, if only in principle for now.
I guess too that much of blogging is to do with not having to put up with the real-world equivalents of spam, violence and needing to drink a lot to put up with the company.
It would be a mistake to believe I think much will happen as a result of blogs. Argument has gone nowhere for millennia. We are too self-interested for argument to work without some kind of of testable outcomes. I rather hope we are so brainless that technology will change our reliance on it, which is generally puerile whether philosophers are counting angels on pin heads or politicians appealing to our dolt notions of economics and cures to social problems.
Argument is so brilliant we get a Human Rights Act that has outcomes in protecting shagging footballers and sending us to jail for gossiping about them. We’re giving up newspapers, but not really finding ways to replace the editorial control, perhaps discovering a little where it lies in the play of appeals to one set of ignorance or another.
In the end, blogs are much like everything else -little I want, much I want to exclude. I’m off now to see if my friend Francis has some thoughts on offer.