Friday, August 11, 2006

Dear A-List Bloggers

I write to you frustrated and discouraged in hopes that you might shed light on a 'cold prickly' feeling I have. We could agree for the sake of my inquiry, that just as many people in the information movement, I struggle with the selection of who to read, who to agree with and my own voice in the blogosphere as it rises to capture it's own A-Listesque audience. To make a difference. A positive one. Frequently identified by others as a having a positive, energetic, and nearly Polyanna-like position, I am concerned to find myself presently disenchanted with our collective efforts to expose and analyze media's growth and expansion and its effect on our societies.

Is it the liquid bombing threat this week in London? Dave Winer taking little Liz Henry to task about sexism? The howels of pain from inside AOL? The inspiring conversations I have with people at conferences that fade into oblivious memory weeks later? I've approached several industry pundits and challenged them to build something meaningful with me, sure that my heart was in the right place, only to be ignored and put on the A-(shit)List by unrelated reasoning. What do these events have in common?

I have this disheartening sense that for every precaution we take or campaign we take on that there is an equally motivated anti-presence. Is life too big an animal to fix? At times it feels like we are changing the world with our conversations. I sat in South Korea last month and watched an Israeli and a Palestinian man talking -- each of them sensitive, intelligent, well-meaning citizen journalists. There is little need to highlight how little that moment translated a few days later as 200 missles plunged into Israel. Christ!

Tell me, what of the roll of the eyes of the cabby who hears me say "bloggers" and states plainly "I hate reading them, there is so much bullshit out there". We seem to register and train for the race, take a deep breath at the starting line and as surely skin our knees to bloody pulp of flesh once the starting gun goes off because our shoelaces are tied to the bleachers.

- B-list representative


lisa padilla said...

3 hours after I made this post, a protest marched down the street I work on:

lisa padilla said...

I have cross-posted this particular post on GoingOn where Adrian Chan responded with some interesting comments. I re-cross-posted here as a comment:

Adrian Chan – August 11, 2006
I know the feeling you're talking about, though I think maybe it's less a cold prickly and more a cold nothing? Blogs are still by and large individual soap boxes, and the shortcoming of the form as a mode of conversation is that it's not one, really. Most of us still use a combination of our own blogs and comments to respond to blogosphere commentary. The medium lacks the continuity that a simple discussion forum, by contrast, captures quite well. The result is lack of follow through as much to blame on the medium's inefficiency as on personal intent. That said, blogs are written by bloggers, and bloggers are monologists, writing their thoughts "out loud" but not necessarily with the intention of engaging everyone in conversation. Each of us is as likely to lose our own train of thought as keep it, esp in an industry moved by news and events as this one. Being first to comment, being seen as "with it," are matters of reputation to many.

On a substantive note, if only those of us with a rational head on our shoulders also had the influence to make good use of it! Citizens are, well, but citizens, as long as they act alone. Public assembly is not a feature of modern democracies. Lobbyists and interest groups are. They're the ones not watching the race, but working the concession lines hands stuffed with manilla envelopes fat with cash...

lisakpadilla – August 11, 2006
I think a great idea would be software that allows, in a structured way, the activity of debate. One would pose a position blog style and the challenger could post it's rebuttal. People could vote real-time like we're beginning to see in politics.

If RSS is giving us the power to only listen to the conversations we want to, why not also the topics within the author's published work? There are certain people who go on and on and on about what they had for lunch or wax on egotistically about who 'reads' them or pointed to them. I do not care. I want to know only about what that person feels about a particular topic.

I, like the cabby, want the filters and the rules, even if only recently did I learn that about myself. There are only so many minutes in life. In this great and wonderful age of new media and widely distributed means of communication, I feel like we've been shot out of a sewage pipe into the ocean, along with all of the crap. The release is beatiful but man, it sure does stink.

Adrian Chan – August 14, 2006
i dont disagree! tagging is supposed to address some of that, but of course you'd have to tag your posts pretty well for people to then find them; integrating tagging into rss, well there's an idea!
dave sifry is big on simplicity, and i the keep it simple approach has its merits. that said, technorati is supposed to help nail topical searches and contribute to topical blogging. it's not perfect. and meanwhile, the stuff that's in and out of chat windows is lost forever... perhaps the DOD has a solution?!

lisakpadilla – August 15, 2006
Yeah, the DOD might just be on to some things. One day they'll claim all of those seemingly mindless video gamers and plop them into warfare for us, already trained to drive tanks, shoot and strategize in teams...they certainly aren't looking much at corporations I bet. I feel like I work in the UN sometimes, with countries having their own motivations and not thinking about the greater good. Shoot their own people just to save face. Uselessly present, devoid of direction. Jello-eating followers. I wish starting your own planet were as easy as starting your own blog.

lisa padilla said...

Postscript: A-List bloggers must be too big to post comments on my blog.