ME and Ophelia

Friday, February 06, 2004

It's not so much who you know, but who you vaguely know

Many people don't have as much time as I do to read blogs. I've sure read a lot of blogs and comments these past seven months. And it's been a real eye opener. Seems that many bloggers do a lot of mindless Bush bashing and criticising on all manner of things, without providing alternative solutions. It's simple for us bloggers to talk. We are not professional journalists with bosses and responsibilities nor are we in the shoes of those in charge of running countries who have the thankless task of protecting us and the economy. It's easy for us to be armchair critics, taking pot shots and pontificating on what should and should not be done, criticising governments, people in their jobs and the way things are run.

Wouldn't you like to see professional journalists and citizen bloggers (including myself) becoming more responsible about what they write when they target something or somebody in the public domain? To see posts that involve and raise "issues" at least have an aim, an objective, a purpose or suggestion of alternative solutions? I know I would. Some days, I get quite down about the thoughtless stuff people write that could affect the thinking of others who are easily influenced, thus perpetuating misconceptions and creating even more 'anti this, that and the other, government or whatever'.

Many bloggers think they are thinking - but they are not. Really, they are just whingeing and venting, some coming across as unfairly harsh and cruel towards others. When I read all their anti-Bush commentary in particular, I don't think some even realise they are rubbishing the UK and its allies too. I've spent over 15 years in America and find Americans, generally speaking of course, rather insular and naive about the true reality of other cultures and how people think outside of America. The US is just over 200 years old and, apart from civil wars, has never experienced a World War on their land. In fact, Sept 11 was probably their first experience of being attacked from the outside, which could account for some of the naive commentary in American blogs.

Next time you look in the sidebars of American bloggers, notice and you will find that Americans mostly link to Americans. Of course, you may see some links to Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere - here and there. But not a lot, considering the size of Europe and the fact that its combined market is greater than that of the US. Why is that do you think?

This week, I drafted a post on "the Media and BBC post Hutton". I was in two minds whether to publish it or not. Basically, it ended by suggesting the UK TV license fee ought to be abolished and the BBC be freed up from its responsibilities as a public broadcasting service. This view tied into my previous posts on the professional media. Yesterday, after finding Melanie Phillips's Diary, and reading what she and her readers had written and discussed, I may have more confidence in publishing my post at a later date. So glad to have found Melanie's site, and look forward to following her work on a regular basis.

Some of my posts recently have been getting into controversial areas, which is not what I set out to do with my blog. Unfortunately, it's those areas that take my interest and where I feel I could have a voice; if anyone picked up on my posts - and agreed or disagreed - I'd feel that a dialogue had taken place, and the dialogue would be out there for anyone in cyberspace to pick up on and think about. Trouble with that is, one comes across as opinionated - and who cares about what I think anyway.

What I'm trying to say here, is that I am learning a lot through blogging. Reading what others think and how they convey their thoughts and opinions. It's certainly an art presenting one's case fairly, without hurting other people who may be trying their best to do good. Makes me realise just how much education, training, practice and skill goes into being a professional journalist. And, it makes me realise too that professional writers whose reports result in the ruination of other people's lives or reputations - even to the extent of trying to depose politicians, bring down governments or even our monarchy - must be aware of what they are aiming to achieve, and why. Which makes impartiality and errors of judgement even more serious. The global impact and effect that the professional media have on people and society today, needs to be treated as a deadly serious business, not like showbiz thrills and entertainment.

If bloggers put more thought behind their "issues" posts - and had an aim - instead of just lazy thinking, whingeing or criticising, I feel that citizen blogging could become a medium to be respected and could work well in tandem and cooperation with the professional media. And, if the professional media continued to sensationalise the news, slant the truth, and ruin people's lives and reputations - not to mention attempts at deposing politicians and bringing down governments - then citizens blogging could become a medium that keeps the truth afloat. Either way, citizen blogging is a win-win medium, IMHO! The key is, of course, for a cross section of society to be blogging. Not just 20-30 white American something's in IT ... with 30+ American white something's leading the way.

Yesterday, I noticed a blogger featured an icon supporting the BBC: "I believe in the BBC" (or something like that). The blogger wanted others to copy it into their sidebars to show support for the BBC. I suppose the reason why I thought twice about my BBC post, is that I don't want to turn readers off or alienate them. The purpose of my blog is friendship, to meet and make friends with new people anywhere in the world. To discuss and exchange ideas etc.

Like what happened with Jim's post, on how to hack your printer (it still makes me smile when I type those words!): I picked up on it. Pete picked up on it. Next thing you know: Google has given us a voice on their pages ... so, in the future, if any manufacturer, writer, student or reporter is doing work on the great "ink rip-off ... they may read our comments and take them into account. That's exactly the kind of good stuff I think nearly ALL bloggers can do, no matter how articulate or inarticulate.

This leads me to the question that I raised in my October 24, 2003 post on "The Europe Node - Why no European Node?" (see below). I'm planning on looking into this, and am re-organising my blogroll to promote European bloggers. Need to find a European node. Please let me know if you come across any good blogs in Europe. Yesterday, I created a new heading in my sidebar: "Rest of the world blogs". The new links, under that heading, are my starting point for spending the next six months looking at what's going on in the blogosphere outside of the UK, US and Japan.
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The Europe Node: Why no European Node?

Following on from my post above, here's a copy of my post dated October 24, 2003: "Joi Ito recently blogged about Jeff Howe's post in Wired entitled "the connectors, the hypernetworked nodes who secretly run the world". Some of us bloggers noted a glaring omission from Jeff's list: THE EUROPE NODE. Why no European Node? Where's our European Node? We must have a European Node! Here's Jeff Howe's list of names and descriptions (to which I have added links). Apologies for not finding a better link (except for this by Jeff Howe) for Martin Garbus (wonder why he is an entertainment node and not a law node?)"
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Post update on Saturday Feb 06, 2004, 10.22 AM:

Doesn't mean that you are right

Someone's put a lot of work into this essay Why I Hate Personal Weblogs - and there's some heated discussion going on over at Why your Movable Type blog must die. Hehe. Don't you just love people?

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 2/06/2004
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