November 04, 2007

Analytical Blogging again

The other day I wrote an article on analytical blogging, which got some negative attention from Dizzy, who makes a fairly amusing point against it though personally I'm not as convinced as he is that intelligence is only reserved for the elite. Its interesting as well that modern conservatives often have tended towards being unabashedly in favour of populism- that reinforces one of my feelings that modern conservatism and other historical forms of conservatism are not the same- I can't imagine Edmund Burke or Hayek even giving three cheers for the Sun in the way that Dizzy does!

However that isn't the main point of this post. Matt Sinclair asks a much more interesting question about smart people and blogging, and I think he is right to ask it and the answer in the case of this blog demonstrates something which I think is interesting. Matt asks "Why should someone with interesting and novel things to say use the blogosphere as a medium?", he goes on to deliver some interesting answers, all of which depend mostly on the community as a whole providing a forum. Matt imagines that blogging is a bit like an intellectual salon on the net, in which we can throw around ideas, as he rightly points out that presumes a membership, there is no point talking to onesself.

Somebody asked me on my thread about this, why I don't do more analytical work on politics. I do a bit, but nowhere near what Chris Dillow does on Stumbling and Mumbling- and I think this ties into another reason to maintain a blog, which is one of the basic reasons that Westminster Wisdom (the title is partly ironic) exists. This blog really isn't an analytical policy blog- though I do occasionally rummage through politics and policy, its really a purely egoistic exercise. For me a blog is the equivalent of an 18th Century common place book, ie its where I put down my impressions of the world so I can go back to them. An interesting quote, a fun video, a film review, even a review of a novel, anything which makes me remember how I reacted to something for the first time.

I think that is a valid reason to keep a blog- partly because experience flows past me at such a rate that I can never really grab hold of it. Throughout my life, amongst my major vices is forgetfulness, and that means that I often lose hold of what I should know or should remember. Here I have a resource to which I can turn, when I want to, to find out about say Rousseau's walks or Bresson's Joan of Arc. Part of that is it forces me to think about what I see and read more acutely than ever before: because I know I'm going to have to write an article up here on it. That makes me look deeper and try and understand more. Its also a good resource to remember what an idiot I am occasionally- there are moments on this blog where I know I've been a complete fool- reminding onesself of that is a good thing and doing it on a blog is fairly harmless. (Which in a way brings me back to Dizzy, acute mockery of your own pretensions is always a good thing to read!)

In answer to Matt's question therefore- I think there is another reason- in addition to the good ones he has given- for a person to keep a blog and that is as an online diary. Afterall that is what blogs started off being- and I wonder whether in the end that will be their principle use.

LATER Incidentally Dizzy should probably go and watch this.

9 comments:

Matthew Sinclair said...

In the friendliest possible way, I call bullshit!

If it's just a diary why put it online? Just use Word.

Particularly as your blog has always been particularly community-oriented. From the UK blogosphere's first extended debate that didn't break down into random abuse to an early prominence in Blogpower. This blog may be Gracchi's diary but it's hardly been kept under lock and key.

Ashok said...

Dizzy is seriously not worth anyone's time. Look at the abuse he hurls on Sunny in the comments - he tries to make Sunny say that all blogging is dumb and populist, when Sunny clearly isn't saying that. He's a bully, and an anti-social loser for whom the following is directed at - Ce que tu penses, je m'en branle.

Note further how he purposely conflates your post and Sunny's post, and doesn't even bother to argue why he can make such a move, if he can.

Finally, he also fails to put forth anything that isn't "you're all wrong, therefore I must be right," when he's not bullying people into positions he wants them to adopt so he can abuse them further. His blogging is nasty, brutish and short, and definitely a demonstration that this medium is very delicate, as the tendency of populist politics is to make speech a form of violence (re: my own attack on him - to not stoop to his level in this case is to say that he isn't harmful). Dizzy, at least in that post, excels in showing that perhaps Neanderthals have not gone extinct, at least not yet.

dizzy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dizzy said...

Above comment deleted because it had some horrible typos, this is the cleaned up version:
===========

Gracci, the only part of my post directed at you was the first paragraph really in which I didn't really say anything other than it was bizarre. I was certainly not saying that intelligence was reserved for the elite though.

My point in relation to tabloids was that they do contain analysis they just don't do in an intellectual manner because most normal ordinary people don't go about their daily lives talking like that. The tabloids can and do have sharp analysis they just sum it up in a paragraph rather than an essay, and they do it on a wide range of subjects.

I would like to say as well though that the manner in which you seem to use "populism" as a pejorative is far more worrying than some of the things that actually get labeled as populist. It's basically smacks of intellectual snobbery. After all, just because something is populist it does not follow that it is wrong.

Anyways, now I have to deal with ashok who seems to hate my gut - which is nice, I try my hardest.

Look at the abuse he hurls on Sunny in the comments

I hurled abuse? If you mean where I said that certain language that is used is poncey then I do apologise profusely, however, it doesn't change the fact that it is. It's very easy for us to all start talking about "ethnocentric qualitative analysis" but it doesn't actually mean very much to your average geezer on the street who, unlike you and I, probably hasn't been through undergraduate and postgraduate learning.

he tries to make Sunny say that all blogging is dumb and populist, when Sunny clearly isn't saying that.

Actually I didn't say that Sunny said all blogging was dumb and populist. What I said was that the argument being put forward about the "level of conversation" (his words) smacks of elitism because its seems to be making a connection between "level" and "quality". I also said that I considered it a tad ironic that in the same post he talked about his concern that there is elitism in think tanks towards blogs. He can't have it both ways, he cannot get concerned about elitism on the one hand and then put forward arguments that refer to the "level" of discourse not being high enough, ergo, the quality of discourse is not good enough. You may not like my opinion, but the quality of discourse is not proportional to the amount of words or the lengths of the words that ones writes.

He's a bully, and an anti-social loser for whom the following is directed at - Ce que tu penses, je m'en branle.

Well that's just charming isn't it! How pray tell am I a bully? Is it because I don't take any shit and I'm not afraid to defend what I say? I am anti-social though, I admit that, the Internet did it to me.

Note further how he purposely conflates your post and Sunny's post

I don't think you'll find I did do that. What I did was outline the source of why I was posting about the given topic. I read the post here and I followed the link that was the original inspiration for it and then questioned the original source. There was no purposeful conflation. Sunny's post was problematic for me (for the reaosns I have already said), and Gracchi's one I just considered bizarre because I didn't agree with it (and I have explained why above to him). However the title of the post, along with its content was pretty clear on which argument was the actual target. As far as I am concerned the two were separate and the two remain separate. If you wish to believe I purposefully conflated something then so be it, I can do nothing about you thinking I'm lying.

Finally, he also fails to put forth anything that isn't "you're all wrong, therefore I must be right," when he's not bullying people into positions he wants them to adopt so he can abuse them further.

Actually it normally goes along the lines of "I am right, therefore I am right". I mean, my blog has the tagline "Opinionated Arrogance" remember. Of course as with all online communication dead pan sarcasm and intonation is always lost in text and I refuse to use [sarcasm][/sarcasm] tags.

His blogging is nasty, brutish and short

Well it is the natural condition of blogging concerning its felicity and misery.... isn't it?

definitely a demonstration that this medium is very delicate

Delicate? You make it sound like it's a new born baby. The medium is exceptionally robust because it has been around for so long now and the approach to discourse has changed very little. My approach, whilst aggressive in terms of defending my own positions, isn't a patch on the stuff in alt.politics.

(re: my own attack on him - to not stoop to his level in this case is to say that he isn't harmful)

Nicely recovered. Twisted logic, but nicely recovered. I never realised I was such a dangerous human being.

Dizzy, at least in that post, excels in showing that perhaps Neanderthals have not gone extinct, at least not yet.

I do regularly polish my bone club it's true.

Gracchi said...

Dizzy I'm sure Ashok can defend himself so I'll leave that to him. However for your comments on my piece!

Thanks for your comment, Yeah I know it wasn't really aimed at me- that's why I didn't respond in full. As to your point about tabloids- I can see your point that they are demand led. The truth is though that just because they are demand led doesn't mean they are good. The populist position is that anything popular is neccessarily good- is that your position.

I think citizenship confers obligations and one of them is to be informed about political issues etc. There is an ethical obligation in living in a democracy- the Athenians and the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War recognised that- and that obligation is to judge as well as you can with as much information as you can lay your hands on, not to do so is to be bad citizen.

I think there is something good about knowing about the political system that you live in if you wish to participate within it. I do think that that is an obligation you have. I've seen you bring up issues of substance in the past- and I hope you do again- I presume you think its good that people know those things. Often what I see on Guido's blog say is just a lynch mob- find someone, embarrass them and laugh at them- its great at getting people to come, but its mean, it doesn't inform anyone and its unpleasant. That's often what reading the tabloids is like as well- find your person and throw stuff at them- whether its dirty immigrants or single mothers.

dizzy said...

"The populist position is that anything popular is neccessarily good- is that your position."

No, my position is that anything that is popular must be popular for a reason and is not by necessity bad.

edmund said...

i don't know , i think Edmund Burkes problems with the Sun would have been the idea of the masses taking such an interst in high politics.

However it's small t traditionalism and oppostion to leftist ideology would have suited him. Burke is far from being precisely an elitist but is one for the notion that overturng the great majority (including the dead) is unwise.

I think conservatives have sometimes become populist insofar as leftists have moved against democracy....i accept there is a heavy elment of populism across the politica specturm which is one reason conservatives are not that conservative! fine ideas about privitzation hit electoral reality.

Gracchi said...

Well then Dizzy we are agreed- I just think for other reasons that the sun and guido are bad things. Edmund possibly Burke would have found the traditionalism appealing, I'm not sure he would have found other aspects of the Sun appealing.

Apologies for being late responding to this thread- was in joy interviews all of yesterday.

edmund said...

What do you think Burke would have particularly disapproved of in the Sun aside from it's support for the political engagment of the masses and its nudity?