Monday, September 19, 2005

The Value of Blogging

"To blog" is an unfortunate term, like the sound one hears when someone is trying to swear at you with a hot potato in her mouth. It's not elegant, not like "write" or "pen". So well suited for what I try to do.

Some days I like blogging a lot less, though. For example, today the New York Times has decided to start charging a fee for its opinion columns. This means that if I want to choke and vomit over Tierney or Brooks I have to pay for it. That may sound fair to some of you, but then you can't read my masterful dissections of the same vomit. (Hint: You can donate me ten bucks by pressing that little symbol in the right column, below the hurricane one. Of course after you have donated all your other disposable income to the hurricane rescue operations. Don't do this if you are poor!)

This may be the beginning of a trend of charging, and the final outcome is to lock all amateurs and goddesses out of the sources of evidence. I'm sure someone would like to do exactly this.

One reason why I think so is this excellent article. It discusses the purpose of political blogs, the need to triangulate between the blogs, the political machinery and the traditional media, and it tells us how much better the wingnut blogs are doing in all this, largely because they are marching to the commands of the top of their hierarchy and feeding on the soundbites sent down by Hannity and Limbaugh and so on. The lefty-liberal bloggers, sadly, are like cats walking on their own and about as easily herded together. But as the article says we really must learn to do better to have more influence on the public discussion.

Where I differ from Daou Report is explained by the place where I sit. Though I'm a fairly widely-read feminist blogger, I'm but a tiny speck as a political one. Well, not so very tiny but you get my point. I'm not one of the big boys and neither the Democratic establishment nor the traditional media is likely to check out what I say every morning. Nothing much is getting triangulated here, but I hope that something else is happening, perhaps a debate, a discussion about the need to include women's points of views more, a discussion to start finding the political machinery that we need and the access to the traditional media we simply don't have.

That's when I feel like a really ambitious and powerful divine, which isn't often. The reality is much more limited, but still useful: to at least join the conversation, to name things which may not yet have names so that the phenomena they are attached to can be discussed. This is what we all smaller bloggers are doing, and I believe that it is useful or at least fun.

For a feminist blogger this quote from the Daou Report article is also a point of divergence:

After a year of my life spent at the intersection of pre-blog and post-blog political thinking, and with Bush getting the second term he craved, one question has preoccupied me since last November: What is the scope of netroots power? Put differently: How influential are bloggers?

It's a difficult question to answer. First, there's no consensus on metrics. Second, blogs serve many purposes, some of which are more social than political. Third, the use of the Internet in political campaigns cuts across so many areas that it's easy to confuse netroots influence in the communications and messaging realm with other Internet-based political applications such as organizing and fundraising. Fourth, 'influence' is a hazy term. (Bolding by Echidne)

For us feminists the borderline between "social" and "political" is much hazier than it is in the mainstream (malestream?) conversation. Much which really is political avoids the limelight of the big liberal blogs because it appears to be social, and feminist blogs can point this out. This also means that writing about our everyday lives, about what happened in the streets, in the kitchens, in the bedrooms or in the boardrooms can be deeply political and may ultimately convert more people to a certain political view than the discussions about the campaign promises of the next Democratic candidate. It is this wider sense of political that many feminist bloggers employ, and if what they do is not seen as political blogging then we are defining the term too narrowly.