Wednesday, September 21, 2005

# Posted 8:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PROFOUND THOUGHTS ABOUT BLOGGING: Perhaps that is a contradiction in terms. Anyhow, this past weekend Daniel Drezner played host to an academic mini-conference on the political power of blogging.

Ethan Zuckerman has summarized three of the papers presented there. Jay Rosen of NYU and Press Think presented an extended defense of the he said/she said hypothesis, which OxBlog feels compelled to dispute approximately every six weeks.

Cass Sunstein presented a rather pessimistic sounding paper on how the blogosphere may serve as an amplifier of ignorance rather than a conduit for the collection and dissemination of our collective knowledge. Actually, I guess if you are a pro-MSM critic of the blogosphere, than Sunstein's paper might be thought of as optimistic.

Finally, Eszter Hargittai sought to measure the degree of partisan insularity in the blogosphere. She did so by trying to measure not just how often liberals link to conservatives and vice versa, but how often liberals link to conservatives approvingly and vice versa. (You can read a more detailed account of Eszter's paper on her own blog.)

Not too surprisingly, Eszter found that bloggers link to their ideological bedfellows far more often than they do to their adversaries and that an overwhelming number of posts to one's adversaries tend to be critical, even to the point of being straw-man attacks.

Nonetheless, as Eszter herself points out, "people from both groups are certainly reading across the ideological divide to some extent." I'm also interested in seeing what happens when Eszter looks at blogs that don't fall neatly into categories of right and left.

Dare I speculate that websites such DanielDrezner.com, The Moderate Voice, The American Scene and (yes) OxBlog actually engage in the supposedly ideal behavior of carefully reading and considering arguments presented by both sides?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question meant to advertise my own alleged open-mindedness and "centrism". Off hand, I'd say that I don't refer to myself as a centrist nearly as often as I once did. I find those on the right as well as those on the left tend to resent self-identified centrists for having a holier-than-thou attitude.

Hmmm. Maybe they're right. And this post is evidence of how right they are.

Anyhow, there are political advantages to claiming the mantle of centrism. But I'm not running for office. And if you want to build up a five-figure daily readership in the blogosphere, you pretty much have to provide enough red meat for one half of the political spectrum. But that is not my aspiration for the moment. I still have a Ph.D. to finish.
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