Thursday, December 21, 2006
Cloudy and mild
Check out the Yule essay over on Kemmyrk.
A friend sent me this link (http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009409)
And asked for my response.
This is what I said:
"Journalism as practiced via blog" is an odd phrase. I don't think journalism CAN be practiced by blog. Journalism is supposed to be something well-researched, presenting both points of view impartially, with evidence to back up one side, the other, or, preferably both -- setting out the smorgasbord of information to help the reader make an informed decision.
That's not the way it's done in practice, which is one reason, I think, that people have turned to the web and to blogs for opinions. Journalism takes time and thoroughness -- both of which have been lost in the demand for the exclusive, which used to be called the scoop.
A blog is a diary, an open letter, an emotional snapshot of the moment.
Rago's comparison to the commonplace book is right on the money -- but he also seems to have forgotten that all-important way that information used to be distributed -- the pamphlet. Pamphlets were big business in the 19th century, and even into the first half of the twentieth century, especially for Socialist movements and Labor movements. Anyone who could scrape together a few shillings could write up something, take it to a printer, and start selling his opinions on the street corner.
He also seems to think that diaries aren't meant to be read -- while they may not be meant to be read "in the moment", most people who keep diaries are writing to their "unknown reader", even that reader is the future self, and many people write with an eye towards the work being someday published (preferably once they're dead and no one can sue them anymore).
I think the technology has made the process more compressed and immediate, but it's following something that's been human nature since people stood up on tree stumps to hear the sound of their own voices.
And there IS a lot of bad writing out there, and people tend to seek out blogs that reinforce their own opinions, not challenge them. Or, if they are challenged, they can't be bothered to fashion a reasoned argument in response -- they simply insult the blogger.
There are blogs that encourage actual dialogue between writer and reader; and there are well-researched, well-thought out blogs. They ARE in the minority, and need to be sought out -- but can be found. They tend to run in tandem with more thoroughly researched work -- sites such as Salon.com or Slate.com.
With the web, the old saying, "opinions are like assholes -- everyone's got one" is all the more obvious now -- although no less or more prevalent than it's ever been.
People who use blogs as the be-all and end-all of news and journalism are both lazy and make the choice of ignorance. They'd make the same choices even without the availability of blogs.
And -- there's always been a lot of bad writing, ever since "writing" became a reality. There always will be. Eventually, most of the worst of it falls away. Many of the bad books from centuries ago have disintegrated -- eventually, most of the bad writing on the web will disperse, too.
It's like anything -- a tool people can choose to use or misuse.
Dashed to Mamaroneck to get another good panettone. They were sold out of the traditional ones, so I had to settle for a cranberry one for Christmas morning.
Went over to Pier 1 and found a really cool gift for a friend at work. She’s someone who does nice things for people every day, but, because she never calls attention to it, I feel sometimes she’s taken for granted. I wanted to get her a little something – and then I found a bigger something that’s awesome – so I bought it. And I’m taking it in today.
Baked oatmeal buttermilk biscuits for breakfast yesterday (from The Breakfast Book) because I felt I was getting into a breakfast rut.
Renewed my National Wildlife membership and ordered some excellent-looking patterns for yoga clothes from a new-to-me site. Since the clothes I like are so ridiculously priced (no, I am NOT going to pay $79 for a tee shirt in which I’m going to sweat), I’m going to make some of my own. And, since I like to write in yoga clothes anyway – I should have several sets, and they’ll be yoga/writing clothes. There’s also a pattern for a mat bag – although, to be honest, I mean, you’re making a cylinder with a drawstring, you don’t really NEED a pattern for that.
I figured out what kind of pattern I want to do for the Earth Quilt – it’s not quite a traditional pattern, it’s a little twisted (like you’re surprised). I have to sketch it out, and then figure out how to morph it on the graph paper so I can actually have a pattern I can cut out and use. I think the initial sketches might need to be filled in with colored pencil so I can get an overall idea of the color – but when I buy the fabric, I want to use calicos, to give it more texture.
Sketch it – that’s pretty funny. Stick figures are about as far as I go with the whole sketching thing.
Did a little bit of work on Warmth of the Hearth. Emailed back and forth with my editor on the Plum essay revisions.
Had a nice morning’s work today on Token and Affections – 1625 words. I’m writing the scene in Central Park between Elmira and Declan. It’s going well, and both those characters continue to surprise me in the best possible way.
Off to the theatre, and then it’s time to celebrate the Solstice!
Tomorrow, I’m taking my mother out for a Christmas treat, and I’m excited.
Token and Affections – 29,450 words out of est. 35,000
29 / 35