Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Shafer doesn't get it."

Just kidding.

Blog Overkill - The danger of hyping a good thing into the ground. By Jack Shafer

I've never understood the idea that blogs would up-end traditional media outlets. Most of what blogging -- especially political and news blogging -- entails is linking to some "Old Media," a.k.a. "Mainstream Media," a.k.a. "MSM" (ugh!) piece either approvingly or disapprovingly and providing (if lucky) some pithy piece of commentary in the process.

Kind of like what I've done with this piece...except for the pithy part.

Otherwise, what a lot of people are doing with their blogs ranges from the prosaic but personal -- posting running family newsletters rather than the photocopied summary stuck in with the Christmas cards in December -- to the ecclectic and seemingly uncommercial, like posting photographs or short pieces of fiction that would seem to have no outlet elsewhere. I don't see that blogs are necessarily a revolution in the making as much as they are going to be a sometimes-interesting addendum to the rest of the media noise that we have to filter through.

Addendum: In the Kenneth Tynan profile of Johnny Carson I linked to below, there was this short passage that I have to admit made me think about our current blog-obsession (remember, it was from 1978...and the emphasis (emphasises? emphases?) are mine):
Before I go, Carson takes me down to a small gymnasium beneath the module. It is filled with gleaming steel devices, pulleys and springs and counterweights, which, together with tennis, keep the star’s body trim. In one corner stands a drum kit at which Buddy Rich might cast an envious eye. “That’s where I work off my hostilities,” Carson explains. He escorts me to my car, and notices that it is fitted with a citizens-band radio. “I had one of those damned things, but I ripped it out after a couple of weeks,” he says. “I just couldn’t bear it—all those sick anonymous maniacs shooting off their mouths.”

I understand what he means. Most of what you hear on CB radio is either tedious (truck drivers warning one another about speed traps) or banal (schoolgirls exchanging notes on homework), but at its occasional—and illegal—worst it sinks a pipeline to the depths of the American unconscious. Your ears are assaulted by the sound of racism at its most rampant, and by masturbation fantasies that are the aural equivalent of rape. The sleep of reason, to quote Goya’s phrase, brings forth monsters, and the anonymity of CB encourages the monsters to emerge. Not often, of course; but when they do, CB radio becomes the dark underside of a TV talk show. No wonder Carson loathes it.

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