The Silence of Our Friends

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Parallels and deeper issues

The latest FDL flap has gotten some bloggers thinking and posting...

First there is MBW over at Wampum with Yes, Virginia, the "R-Word" is as offensive as the "N-Word" and the "C-Word"

Which inspires Nanette at Human Beams to post a continuation of the topic.

Taking a different direction, Republic of Palau wonders if over time the desire for accolades like awards, fundraising, recognition by the media or politicos, etc has a corrupting effect; creating an alternate 'Establishment'. MBW has written about this in the past regarding the Koufax Awards. It was meant as a community building exercise and a way for liberals/progressives to discover some great writing. In the last couple of years it has turned into a cutthroat competition with some nominees even directing their readers to cheat. I'm sure she will address this at Wampum in the run up to this years Koufaxes. Anyway, go read RoP's take at Progressive Gold, Metablogging For Fun & Profit

42 comment(s):

Interesting roundup, Donna, thanks.

By Anonymous op99, at 12/07/2006 6:21 PM  

You're welcome op99, glad to see you back here!

By Blogger Donna, at 12/07/2006 11:05 PM  

Hey Donna,

I'm thinking Tom Watson deserves a Weblog award this year for outstanding service to the community, no? Hmmm. ;)

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 12:32 PM  

I think it's inevitable that a heirarchy develops among bloggers--hell, it's already developed. A list, b list, etc. Of course this isn't anything new--it's been noted for a couple of years. But it's still depressing and dismaying to learn, yet again, that human competition once more overwhelms what could be a pretty egalitarian community.

I guess that's why I mostly spend my time among the lesser-known bloggers who are still saying something new.

By Blogger kactus, at 12/08/2006 12:47 PM  

Yes, so many great smaller bloggers out there. Actually this latest flap led me to places like "Shakespeare's Sister" and others I've never read so it's been a real eye-opener.

My reading and interactions have been so limited - Just Eschaton for a while and then I found my way over to FDL but obviously that wasn't much of a fit.

I'm really enjoying this discovery of all the brilliant voices out there, including Donna's for sure. Thanks, Donna.

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 1:33 PM  

Jenny, the first blog I ever read was Americablog, then Crooks & Liars. Found my way, through many turns and twists, to women bloggers and the smaller blogs which represent my views more accurately. I've pretty much given up on the big blogs (esp. Americablog!) except for a cursory glance now and then. But they all cover the same things; they all link to each other; few of them venture outside their comfort zones. It's sad and revealing at the same time. Kind of like real life.

By Blogger kactus, at 12/08/2006 1:41 PM  

kactus,

Interesting, you'd think the larger blogs would have fresher air but I agree it's pretty stale and the atmosphere is positively claustrophic.

I don't have all that much time to read or comment so the days of large self-referential and controlling big *blog-pits* are over for me.

Cheers!

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 2:16 PM  

I don't mind that there is a hierarchy, in the sense that there are always going to be some blogs that have been around longest, that report/comment on certain issues best, where the owners have enough time on their hands to update and facilitate a community, etc. It's the readers who determine this type of hierarchy. It's when the blogs get too big for their britches and decide that they are some sort of aristocracy and the readers are just rabble to do their bidding, then we have a problem. I don't like that those kind of blogs think they can decide who has something worthy to say, and use everything in their means to shut down discussion. That strikes me as anti-liberal and anti-progressive. We are the ones who believe in equality for all people, or at least I thought so.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/08/2006 4:18 PM  

I don't like that those kind of blogs think they can decide who has something worthy to say, and use everything in their means to shut down discussion.

I honestly don't understand the motivation to do this on a liberal blog. What end is served by censoring a thoughtful point of view? I understand squabbles in the comments section but an iron fist coming from the top is so clearly counter-productive and sets such a bad example it's hard to understand the reasoning.

I don't think a large organization by its very nature has to necessarily be corrupt but it does seem to be rare to find people handling *power* of whatever sort in a responsible manner. It's a disappointment.

Actually, Atrios is a good example of a non-autocratic personality, no matter how large that site gets. He's almost fatalistic in his hands-off style, though. He's a good person, really, a fine man. I like his approach, even though I no longer comment at the site.

Disclosure: I've never been personally attacked by posters or commenters at FDL but I've witnessed enough to call it a day. At some point you realize you have to either start yelling or just go away. And I felt like screaming far too often.

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 6:26 PM  

The same is true for me, Jenny. No one at FDL has ever attacked me...as far as I know. LOL The reason I say that is because I had a couple of comments I had to delete in the FDL thread. Obscene ranting with yo momma insults thrown in, if it had been just the yo momma stuff I would have left it to prove that only juvenile rejects defend FDL's racist/sexist slurs. I had a laugh imagining that the commenter might be TRex himself, he does strike me as juvenile.

I hear alot of people dump on Atrios because he doesn't do analysis but mostly posts links to news stories with a short comment or two. I don't mind that and sometimes that's all I want. If I only have a short time online and want to know the big story for the day or what people are talking about, I glance through Eschaton. It's his niche and he does it well, and like you said, he's a hands off type of guy letting people say whatever they want and come to their own conclusions. That to me is the liberal/progressive way. I don't comment over there only because there is so many already commenting, I feel lost among the crowd. So I mostly stick to smaller to medium sized blogs where there is the possibility of some give and take.

I had meant to say something about your Tom Watson comment. I plan to nominate that post for a Koufax this year, want to second my nomination? LOL

By Blogger Donna, at 12/08/2006 9:24 PM  

I like Atrios's posts, and I think the quantity and quality of his analysis is underrated. I used to be a frequent commenter there as well, but I've gotten pretty burned out on big-blog comments in general, and now I spend more time going through the smaller blogs on my blogroll, or trying to actually write posts of my own.

I think my own blog has gotten a tiny bit better as a result, but only just a tiny bit.

By Blogger Eli, at 12/08/2006 9:31 PM  

Oh, and yes, I absolutely agree with Jenny's assessment of Atrios's style - he has no interest in controlling anybody, and does not appear to be driven by either insecurity or ego. He has no interest in celebrity at all, and seems to find it mystifying and embarrassing.

I suppose it *could* just be a very clever act, but after meeting and talking to him at EschaCon (no, I'm not trying to brag about being oh-so-connected - he didn't even know who I was and probably still doesn't), I kinda doubt it.

By Blogger Eli, at 12/08/2006 9:37 PM  

LOL Donna, I second your nomination. OMG wouldn't it be insane if he won?

Atrios is actually a brilliant writer and is extremely funny. I've read some of his early funny stuff and it's off-the-charts fine writing. I think the folks who criticize his brevity just expect him to churn it out 24/7 and don't understand the work involved. But when he gets on a roll he's really top-notch.

Eli and I both met him in Philadelphia last year, but unlike Eli, Atrios knew who I was. HA HA. Hey, Eli, you didn't need to be connected to meet the guy, just needed the plane fare. ;)

Nice to see this conversation still going!

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 10:02 PM  

Hey Eli, you caught me finally getting around to updating my links. I got you in there!

I agree about Atrios analysis. It is mostly, but not all, links to the top stories with a comment or two, but even those comments tend to cut through the bull and are very incisive. Maybe he's just a man of few words, says what's important without the filler.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/08/2006 10:07 PM  

Jenny, do you have a blog I can add to my links?

By Blogger Donna, at 12/08/2006 10:08 PM  

Donna & Eli,

Speaking of meet-ups, although impossible logistically it would be fantastic to meet some of the people we've been corresponding with the past few days. Anne, HopeSprings, Lotus, Kai, op99 and the rest. I'd like to toast all of us.

Well, Eli gets a Dr. Pepper. ;)

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 10:10 PM  

Donna, no blog. But thank you. I think there is another Jenny from the Blog out there with an actual, um, blog, but I've never come across her. I don't know which of us chose our screen name first, tho.

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 10:12 PM  

Jenny - Hrmf.

Donna - Thanks!

By Blogger Eli, at 12/08/2006 10:25 PM  

Eli - *mwah!*

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/08/2006 10:30 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger belledame222, at 12/09/2006 4:36 AM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger belledame222, at 12/09/2006 4:38 AM  

>I don't mind that there is a hierarchy, in the sense that there are always going to be some blogs that have been around longest, that report/comment on certain issues best, where the owners have enough time on their hands to update and facilitate a community, etc. It's the readers who determine this type of hierarchy. It's when the blogs get too big for their britches and decide that they are some sort of aristocracy and the readers are just rabble to do their bidding, then we have a problem. I don't like that those kind of blogs think they can decide who has something worthy to say, and use everything in their means to shut down discussion. That strikes me as anti-liberal and anti-progressive. We are the ones who believe in equality for all people, or at least I thought so.>

Ex-fuckin-actly.

Yeah, I don't think going to the opposite extreme, some sort of I don't know Harrison Bergeron scenario wherein there's not supposed to be any sort of competition, is reasonable. That's -part- of our nature. It's just not the -only- part; and as Donna says, we're supposed to be the ones who DO see that, who DO use that as a guiding principle, that we're -also- capable of cooperation, sharing, non-hierarchical organization and power, all that happy crappy. So yeah, when it starts turning into high school redux, it does get a bit depressing.

i almost never check in at the "A-list" blogs, unless feministe counts as one (i think in the greater scheme maybe not quite; feministing's probably the biggest blog i have linked, or one of 'em).

Your take on Eschaton is interesting--I remember i wasn't impressed, mostly with the contrast between the super-brief entries and the THOUSAND long comment threads, most of which have not only nothing to do with each other but nothing even to do with the original post. just people talking or even shouting over each others' heads, when it isn't just the echo chamber. who needs it? that's not a conversation; that's not even a debate; that's the New York Stock Exchange.

it's good to hear he's a decent guy, though.

i dunno--in general i find it just as easy to scan the headlines myself, you know. but i guess if he serves a purpose. certainly i'd far rather that than the toxic spew at fdl and suchlike.

btw love your handle, jenny from the blog...

By Blogger belledame222, at 12/09/2006 4:43 AM  

oh, and the first "big(gish)" blog i ever read was IBTP, which may give you a clue as to my rabidness now.

otoh it wasn't my first online experience; i'd come from the WELL, a venerable "virtual community." dynamics a bit different but close enough that it wasn't that big a transition.

By Blogger belledame222, at 12/09/2006 4:49 AM  

>I don't think a large organization by its very nature has to necessarily be corrupt but it does seem to be rare to find people handling *power* of whatever sort in a responsible manner. It's a disappointment.>

*nod* maybe i'm overly...well, optimistic isn't the right word i guess. but it does seem to me that it's not so much that "power corrupts" (at least not -only- that) as that certain types of personalities are drawn toward the limelight to begin with.

By Blogger belledame222, at 12/09/2006 4:53 AM  

Belle, I occassionally read IBTP, but not enough to really know anyone or where they are coming from very well over there. Recently I read a thread and in it TF alludes to the fact that she is a lesbian by choice, for political reasons. If I am reading her correctly then I think that is a load of bull. That's the kind of thinking in conservative circles that says that a gay person can be het. If she can just make up her mind on her sexual orientation for whatever reasons then so can others and we should give credit to the religious fundies who counsel and brainwash gay people into 'going straight'. After all it's what they want or they wouldn't go to these sessions, right?

It just strikes me as basic that we're going to be attracted to whoever we are attracted to, and placing it in a context of politics, or religion, or finances, or because your parents or friends pressure you etc is fundamentally wrong. You won't really love the one you are with; you're only using them to work through your own problems and insecurities.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/09/2006 11:00 AM  

Belle! You've been cracking me up all over the toobz lately. Love your insight and your wit, truly!

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/09/2006 12:47 PM  

Recently I read a thread and in it TF alludes to the fact that she is a lesbian by choice, for political reasons. If I am reading her correctly then I think that is a load of bull. That's the kind of thinking in conservative circles that says that a gay person can be het. If she can just make up her mind on her sexual orientation for whatever reasons then so can others and we should give credit to the religious fundies who counsel and brainwash gay people into 'going straight'.

I would speculate that if you find yourself able to "choose" a sexual orientation, then you are, in fact, bi.

By Blogger Eli, at 12/09/2006 1:03 PM  

Shit, Donna, I've been saying that for months. Of course the constant search for publicity and political recognition is going to have a corrupting effect on bloggers like John Amato and Jane Hamsher. They've become petulant, arrogant and now bigoted and misogynistic.

In other words, indistinguishable from right wing bloggers. They just loathe different people, is all.

Now, it's all about the shaving ads and allnight coke jags in cheap hotels. You linked to a post of mine last week that contained an email from TRex bragging about how Jane was out discoing the night away with the likes of REM and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wilson. It's heartening to see a loser like Dave Ferguson living so large through vicariousness as well as Jane not forgetting why she got into blogging in the first place.

By Blogger jurassicpork, at 12/09/2006 1:59 PM  

I hear ya, JP. But are you sure this isn't why Jane got into blogging in the first place? My understanding is that she dumped huge amounts of money into advertising from the beginning, like she started out wanting to be a player in the big leagues.

You're probably right Eli, it could be she is bi, but I still don't like the way she is phrasing it, like we all have a choice, especially in a society where some 'choices' are deemed unacceptable. It would be too easy for wingnuts to turn that on her and say, "So, TF is choosing to be a deviant when she could just as easily be 'normal'? See I told you those gays choose to be perverts Mildred!"

By Blogger Donna, at 12/10/2006 12:08 AM  

But are you sure this isn't why Jane got into blogging in the first place? My understanding is that she dumped huge amounts of money into advertising from the beginning, like she started out wanting to be a player in the big leagues.

I think that's what he meant...


You're probably right Eli, it could be she is bi, but I still don't like the way she is phrasing it, like we all have a choice, especially in a society where some 'choices' are deemed unacceptable.

Oh, I absolutely don't like it either - the point I was trying to make is that that's the only reason she's *able* to choose. If she were just plain heterosexual, I don't think she could. Maybe it's different for women, but I can't think of anything that would induce me to have sex with men - I sure as hell wouldn't do it to make a political statement.

By Blogger Eli, at 12/10/2006 1:47 AM  

Atrios, while he is probably nice, and definitely doesn't seem the type to try and limit his commenters and so on (how can you, in 1200 comments threads?), is also part of the basic "leaders of the blogosphere" gatekeeper, backroom consultation power structure, etc.

They mostly all engage in what I like to call "A lister traffic welfare" ;), sending links to one another and so on. Most people who start their online blog lives at any of those sites, usually wind up only very vaguely aware that there are other sites worth visiting besides kos, mydd, atrios, ezra klein, tapped, fdl, america blog, crooks and liars, and whoever else I am forgetting.

You linked to a post of mine last week that contained an email from TRex bragging about how Jane was out discoing the night away with the likes of REM and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wilson. It's heartening to see a loser like Dave Ferguson living so large through vicariousness as well as Jane not forgetting why she got into blogging in the first place.

This makes me think of Olbermann's parting comment after his interview of Hamsher... something to the effect of being co-opted or something like that. Sounds like he was right to worry.

Taking a different direction, Republic of Palau wonders if over time the desire for accolades like awards, fundraising, recognition by the media or politicos, etc has a corrupting effect; creating an alternate 'Establishment'.

I think the potential was always there, and people who viewed blogging or "new media" as a way to enter into or become alternate "Establishment".

We sort of like to think of bloggers as like the pamphleteers of old, or scruffy upstarts, but any number of them are well off, highly educated, (previously) fairly conservative or centrist, definitely capitalistic Establishment types, who happen to hate Bush and the Republicans.

That some are also doing good work in facilitating various lefty this or thats is a good thing, of course, but I think we should realize that for many it's just a step in the efforts to become insiders instead of outsiders... but of the same Establishment (maybe tweaked, just a tad).

I stopped visiting big box blogs long ago when I realized that... some of our goals and values were just not compatible (in general, that is... community places like kos have a tiny contingent of leftists, in addition to all the centrist and conservative Dems).

By Blogger Nanette, at 12/10/2006 2:04 AM  

Nanette, you are right, saying someone isn't as bad as X, still doesn't mean they are good. Those A-list blogs are still self referential, whether it is Atrios, or FDL, or MyDD, etc. They are still gatekeepers, keeping the riffraff out. Only a certain type of perspective is welcome, have their posts linked, or blogrolled. Even at DK, Kos has let it be known that some are not welcome, there are a few that stubbornly stick around anyway.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/10/2006 2:58 AM  

Eli, You're right. I missed the "not" in JP's last sentence.

It's not different for women, I am only sexually attracted to men. But I also know that people sleep with other people they aren't sexually attracted to for a variety of reasons. Arranged marriages, prostitution, social status, etc.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/10/2006 11:56 AM  

I think we're getting offtopic here. The issue isn't Jane's sexual orientation. If she's bi, big deal. It's not going to define her political views except inasfar as her stance on gay rights.

Jane has a very strong personality. That much we can all agree. She has very strong views but she's yet to harness that caustic wit and formidable personality to focus on just getting the word out.

I'm even more caustic in my blog as she is, if you can believe that. I also have an overpowering personality. But I never forget why I got into political blogging in the first place and I've never forgotten how important the first amendment is. I would never think to ban certain people or delete their comments even if they disagree with me.

That kind of spirited debate is the lifeblood of democracy itself. And God knows I can be wrong. In fact, more often than I'd like to admit, I've been called on it and I'm always the first one to admit that I screwed up.

Jane and her flying monkeys have yet to realize that and the more attention the MSM and the politicos on the Hill give her, the further and further away she gets from actual blogging.

We absolutely do not need people like Jane Hamsher and TRex speaking for us and the progressive liberal movement. Because their brand of debate and blogging is actually the exact opposite of progressiveness.

By Blogger jurassicpork, at 12/10/2006 12:46 PM  

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By Anonymous jack goff, at 12/10/2006 1:51 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Anonymous jack goff, at 12/10/2006 1:52 PM  

Goodness. Someone definitely is having issues.

And, while I don't know Jack Goff well, I think I've read enough of his stuff to know this particular commenter isn't him.

We absolutely do not need people like Jane Hamsher and TRex speaking for us and the progressive liberal movement. Because their brand of debate and blogging is actually the exact opposite of progressiveness.

Yes, exactly. Which is why the pushback against the CW that they (FDL)are "leaders of the blogosphere" and such is so important.

Actually, that any of them are... such strange delusion that a supposedly egalitarian system would (uncomplainingly) accept self selected leaders who seem to think that they are due some sort of honor because of high traffic numbers.

By Blogger Nanette, at 12/10/2006 3:06 PM  

JP, we weren't discussing Jane's sexual orientation, we were discussing a post over at I Blame the Patriarchy.

I couldn't say this better:
We absolutely do not need people like Jane Hamsher and TRex speaking for us and the progressive liberal movement. Because their brand of debate and blogging is actually the exact opposite of progressiveness.

If anyone caught those Jack Goff comments, Jack is really a nice person, he disagreed with some nut and now she is going around impersonating him to try to discredit him.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/10/2006 3:07 PM  

Speaking of pregressive creds:

I feel like we are living in GW Bush land wherein words that once meant something are no so butchered beyond belief that you can hardly recognize them. Part of it is the right's fault for trying so hard to demonize the words liberal and left for so long.

But back to progressive. On an mydd thread during the "mind-your-betters" chapter of this sad saga, Markos weighed in defending the concept of an A-list in the world of left-leaning blogs (there is a link to it somewhere in my Jane Hamsher the left's answer to Ann Coulter post) in which he actually said that the only reason the most popular blogs were popular was because they were the best blogs out there.

Now I am not going to go into why that is a crock of shit in the first place, but rather point out that in my book, anyone who adheres to social darwinism (the rising of the best and the fittest and the most deserving) is NOT a progressive, or even a liberal, but rather an opportunist [conservative] wolf trying to fit into some liberal outfit.

Which is why I linked JH to Ann Coulter: I don't believe that either of them care about anything or anyone other than their own narcisistic selves. Hence, jumping on whatever bandwagon will help them become a star. It would be interesting to speculate which side Coulter would try to link to were she orchestrating her road to fame and fortune now, rather than in 1992. Would she still be calling for the impeachment of a president? As just for one instance?

By Anonymous sunrunner, at 12/10/2006 3:58 PM  

Nice discussion here; some thoughts of my own:

The difference between Atrios and the other "big dogs" of the liberal/left blogosphere is that Atrios was there first, was there when the only even remotely liberal blogs where those like Matt Welch, ie not very liberal and leftist weirdos like, well, myself, and he started it because he wanted to talk about politics, not to built up a power structure.

In contrast, blogs like FireDogLake and Kos got started much later and especially the former got started at a time when it was clear there was a "market" for liberal blogs and the right blog could become a power in their own right, a "Democratic Party in exile" as Republic of Palau called it on our blog.

No wonder they sometimes ape the worst kind of behaviour from the Beltway elites; they want to become the Beltway elites. that incident with the Bill Clinton meeting all those nice, white bloggers is typical; any criticism of that was seen not as justified, but as an attack on their powerbase...

There's also something deeper going on, an evolving of what used to be a relatively small left of centre blogworld, where anybody left of instapundit was an ally, into a situation where there are tens of thousands of leftie political blog and hence a splintering around ideological and party political lines, be it liberal, socialist, green, anarchist, Democrat, Labourite, SWP, Dutch, French, etc.

Hence another reason why, if you're slightly more radical than your average Democrat you may feel less at home on Democratic Party orientated blogs: they no longer try to appeal to you...

(Atrios' real problem is lack of attention to his blog rather than any desire to be a gatekeeper; he's busy with other things to keep up with an evershifting blogosphere, hence his blogroll is a mess.)

By Blogger Martin Wisse, at 12/13/2006 2:35 AM  

Hi Martin:

My impression is that if Atrios closed down his blog tomorrow he'd move forward and never give it a second thought. That's how little I think it means to him at this point.

Just my .02.

By Anonymous Jenny from the Blog, at 12/13/2006 4:12 PM  

Martin, I think I know what you mean. I used to go to Smirking Chimp a couple years back and comment there, but it got this weird, "We hate you!" "We hate you more!" vibe. It divided down the lines of the radical progressives vs the sensible liberals. Since the sensible liberals were winning it was time for me to go.

The sad part is most of the sensible liberals were very progressive but were too afraid of scaring the moderate voters. That's only what the bought and paid for by big business Democrats want you to think. The disengaged voters are disenchanted with moderate, with wishy washy politicians who won't stand for anything. "They're all the same" means you have to take risks and stand up for yourself, and the people, and the principles you hold, to differentiate yourself.

I bet Atrios is conflicted about his blog. I think he enjoys it for the most part and I'm sure he makes alot of money with his blogads. But I also think that he doesn't want to be all things to all people, and some people do expect that. He seems to get most annoyed when people are pushing him in a direction he doesn't want to go or doesn't have time for. (Many bloggers do, so no surprise.) But the ones who do want to be movers and shakers do tend to be more accomodating to their readers, at least at first. Then like FDL they become accomodating only to the clique. Atrios has no clique, he seems to hang in the background instead of directing a fan club. I have a feeling you are right, Jenny. I think if Eschaton dropped off the popularity scale, Atrios would probably say, "It was fun while it lasted" and move on to the next thing.

By Blogger Donna, at 12/14/2006 12:59 AM  

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