Part for the Whole

Via “Kevin Drum”: I came across “The Revolution Will Not Be Blogged”:, a somewhat skeptical take on the importance of blogs to the political process this election cycle. No doubt others will take issue with the author’s condescending view toward blogs generally; my pet peeve is a bit more specific. All the way through, George Packer speaks of “blogs” and “the blogosphere” when in fact he is only talking about _political_ blogs. Now, it’s likely that those are the only blogs Packer knows or cares about, but it’s still falling into the common fallacy of generalizing content in a new or little-understood medium.

Just as the Packer piece assumes that all blogs engage in political commentary, I’ve read similar articles in the past which assume that all blogs are just a bunch of links to wacky stuff on the web, or that all blogs are just personal diaries. Those three categories, taken together, do account for a lot of blog content, but what people have to start getting into their heads is that blogging is a _medium_. It can be about anything.

What I never seem to see is anyone talking about a blog as a platform for cultural and occasional political commentary, personal narrative when inherently interesting and/or appropriate to a larger point, and additional material focusing on the idiosyncratic interests and/or expertise of the author. That describes a huge number of blogs, and most of my favorites, but it’s harder to generalize about so it doesn’t get talked about. Phooey.

Moving on to my next pet peeve, here’s something else from the article:

Blog prose is written in headline form to imitate informal speech, with short emphatic sentences and frequent use of boldface and italics. The entries, sometimes updated hourly, are little spasms of assertion, usually too brief for an argument ever to stand a chance of developing layers of meaning or ramifying into qualification and complication.

Say it with me now: blogs are a medium. They can be written any damn way the author wants to write them. In fact, what Packer’s describing here is pretty much _bad_ blog writing, which I’m sure I’ve been guilty of from time to time but isn’t characteristic of the best blogs at all. It’s true that the medium may _tend_ to encourage a certain type of writing, just as email tends to encourage shorter, punchier texts than snailmail letters do. But the tendencies don’t constrain the possibilities, and as time goes on we’ll be seeing even more diversity of both content and style in them than we do now.