Journal of the Flame Wars: Now Online
by duende, Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 06:42:49 AM EDT
Cross Posted on Motley Moose
It's out. On popular request I'm letting you all know that my a version of my 'Journal of the Flame Wars' has now been published in Prospect Magazine .
As with all such articles, they get cut for length, subbed and simplified, and this is even more true in a British publication where the Netroots has to be explained as Blogosphere 101. There are a lot of things - a history of snark, mentions of other bloggers that have been cut because of length and complexity.
Sorry guys. I tried to mention a lot of you. But the editors found it confusing. It really needs a longer piece to get the whole story. Maybe I should write a book
I hope you enjoy despite this. In the fierce urgency of defeating McCain Palin, I don't want to reignite any unnecessary and ancient flame wars, so the only two issues I want to comment on are these...
Ever since online bulletin boards took off in the 1990s, there have been users whose sole aim is to disrupt the online conversation. These so-called "trolls" sow dissent, confusion and misunderstanding. In the 2008 presidential campaign, the relatively early nomination of John McCain presented Republican trolls with the perfect opportunity to attack the Democrats. In February, with Obama apparently on course for victory, the right-wing "shock jock" Rush Limbaugh launched "Operation Chaos," urging Republicans to register as Democrats and vote for Hillary in order to deepen the rancour in Democratic ranks. Meanwhile, McCain's team encouraged supporters to fight for their nominee online.
It's still not over, but looking back over the last couple of months, I do thing we've all been vigilant about this tactic, and (so far) mounted a successful push back. There's also a (horribly shortened) piece on snark, though the word itself was cut:
It may seem puerile, but by then the primaries themselves had descended into farce--partly because the old "made for television" politics no longer worked in the digital age. This is something Armstrong foresaw in Crashing the Gate, arguing that the old Karl Rove-Dick Morris days of mass media campaigns were over... Saying one thing to one electorate and another thing to another was viable in an age of local radio, television and newspapers. But with Google and YouTube, where every archived interview and campaign speech is just a click away, the contradictions could be burrowed out, held up and shown to be cynical and manipulative.
This is to me the other salient issue. Thanks the availability online of sources and stories, we've seen the rise of 'citizen journalists', who have provided many early leads on stories, especially in the vetting of Palin in the last month or so. My guess - my hope - is that it's going to be a lot harder in the future to fix, frame and spin stories without popular support.
Lastly, there is the structure of blogs and the promise of some kind of collaborative venture:
The paradox of the netroots is that for all their bottom-up inclusiveness, these sites are run by sole proprietors--Armstrong on the pro-Hillary MyDD, Markos on the Obama backing Daily Kos--the rock stars of the liberal blogosphere. The economics of the web means that clickthrough ad revenue, driven by visitor numbers, is the main source of funding. (Based on a rough estimate of traffic and Google ad rates, Daily Kos could be earning almost $1m a year through advertising.) As with early rock stars, the balance between driving up commercial success and retaining authenticity is proving hard to pull off.
The result is an uneasy mix of democratic collectivism and Rupert Murdoch-style autocracy.
Having had my rec and ratings removed (again) from my MYDD account for defending another blogger, this is still relevant now. And it's particular important for an experiment in real community blogging that is written in the structural DNA, as well as the avowed mission, of somewhere like Motley Moose