Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog, Blog, Blah, Blah

Today has been dubbed "Blog Action Day" by a group of people who have come together to dub today "Blog Action Day." Here's what the dubbers of "Blog Action Day" say about their event on their website:
Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.
Why have they done this dubbing?

First and last, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue.

Out of this discussion naturally flow ideas, advice, plans, and action.
The idea that bloggers might "unite" to create "a discussion" already strains credulity.  I mean, these are bloggers we're talking about.  At last count, nearly 9000 bloggers have registered for the event.  That's 9000 people all talking at once, not even sure that anyone out there is listening, and perhaps not even really caring. (Okay, make that 9001.)

The result is more cacaphony than discussion. The metaphorical notion that something might "naturally flow" from such an event is especially unfortunate . . . but let's not go there.

Setting that aside, what is supposed to "flow" from 9000 bloggers all holding forth at once? The "ideas" and "advice" are bound to be at cross-purposes, pointing in 9000 different directions. This is unlikely to result in anything as concrete and coherent as "a plan", which puts any meaningful "action" well beyond reach.

This is monologue, not dialogue. It serves a purpose of its own, perhaps, but it doesn't get to the heart of what democratic deliberation requires.

Blogs and other social media are about "me."  Democratic deliberation is about "us."

Imagine you are a political leader - or even just a genuinely thoughtful citizen looking to engage in real, substantive discussion of important issues.  You attend a town hall meeting but, when you arrive, you discover that the ground rules have already been set: everyone who has anything at all to say on anything even vaguely related to the topic at hand will be given one full hour to declaim.  The meeting is only one hour long, however, so everyone will have to declaim at the same time.

If it were me, I would turn around and leave.

1 comment:

Doc Nagel said...

Some blogs develop into dialogue, of a sort. Almost all of them I've come across that have any community of followers and commentators are either divided into mutually-flaming hate groups, or mutually-reinforcing common interest groups. The most interesting, open-ended, thoughtful blog-based commentary I've ever seen are on sports blogs and silly things like Comics Curmudgeon. That this observation is entirely consistent with Noam Chomsky's critique of US media is probably not only not a coincidence, but also the topic of a blog somewhere that absolutely nobody reads.