Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Yet another high-minded attack on the condition of bloggery, this time from Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian. Freedland compares the level of debate on blogs to a public meeting which is constantly being interrupted by abusive crazies. The blogosphere, he says, 'represents an enormous democratic opportunity' which is now being wasted. I won't repeat my point from my last post on this. But it is worth pointing out that Freedland's argument is based on absurdly high expectations. Imagine, for example, that somebody had just invented pubs. Columnists observe that they are being used for intense debate on the issues of the day and they represent, therefore, an enormous democratic opportunity. Sadly, however, the level of the debate is not of a very high standard. What is needed, therefore, is some sort of endorsement of certain pubs - The Dog and Duck: High Level Political Discussion Guaranteed, The Red Lion: Geopolitical Specials. Freedland, in short, is making an uncharacteristic - he is a fine journalist - category error. Blogs are more like pubs than debating chambers. Wisdom and insight appear fleetingly and are often forgotten by the next morning. This works for humans, but perhaps not for high-minded policy wonks.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:58 am