Monday, March 31, 2008
So to all the literary agents out there scanning blogs for talent, look no further! The meta-blog book would be a huge hit. Guaranteed!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain.
Blogging seems like the norm for these candidates, but I wonder, are there any differences between the blogs? The layout of Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's blogs are surprisingly similar. The posts are listed on the left, with links on the upper right to general campaign things. John McCain tries to mix it up by having his general links on the light hand side.
But I was more interested in the moderation that goes on of the comments. A (quick) look at the candidates blogs, I could find no mention of whether any moderation goes on. I then quickly scanned through the comments of the top post of each candidate (located here, here, and here for Obama, Clinton, and McCain respectively). At the time that I looked, the closest to a negative comment for Obama was something about not always agreeing, but voting for him anyway. Clinton had no negative comments that I could find, and McCain... well, the blog post I looked at was about his bracket picks, however someone did post about the fact that they liked Obama, but McCain was better.
We talked in class about how people in the world often appreciate negative comments, as they convey a sense of neutrality. First though, would we ever expect a politician's blog to be neutral? Secondly, if we expect implicit bias, would it bother us if the candidate just came out and explicitly said that they were censoring comments?
I wouldn't expect that any candidate would leave negative comments up on her blog. But if she did, perhaps it would bring a bit of the Web "openness" to politics.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Apparently, we are not the first ones to come up with the idea of a blog about blogging. Far from it. I was able to find no less than six other blogs about blogging, but there may be more. Of the six, five were titled “Blog on Blogs” (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) and one was titled “Metablog.” One of them even appears to be written by a student as part of a class project. Incidentally, the student used the same background and text settings that we are using. Notably, not a single one of the six is still active. Apparently, the life span for blogs about blogging is not particularly long. If you want to see the other blogs on blogging, click on the links below:
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
"But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country’s own good...America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage (it must be in there) of Generation Q. That’s what twentysomethings are for — to light a fire under the country. But they can’t e-mail it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won’t cut it. They have to get organized in a way that will force politicians to pay attention rather than just patronize them."
Though Friedman doesn't directly addressing blogging (he has his own blog by the way), is the principle the same? Are discussions "too online"? Or are blogs the future of getting "organized"? Do bloggers have a false sense of impact? Is blogging supplanting other forms of getting organized?
Monday, March 17, 2008
Flaming: The phenomenon of progressively crazier, angrier, and scarier statements in the comments section of websites. You can find it in blogs on sports, politics, law; and I’m pretty sure it exists on blogs about cute little kittens. Flaming is so pervasive—the phenomenon can be seen on just about every blog without the phrase “comments turned off”—that it is hard to believe it is subject specific. Rather, it is the very nature of commenting on blogs that enables the vitriol. There are a number of reasons that blog commenting helps people connect with their inner-name-caller. First and foremost, people can comment anonymously, which diminishes the fear of retribution. Questioning the virtue of someone’s mom to their face might lead to immense physical pain. The consequence of doing so in a blog comment is…an angry rebuttal that might be more harshly worded, but cannot break any bones.
The anonymity of the blogosphere, or at least the perception of anonymity, feeds flaiming in another way: it dehumanizes the other commenters. When you are engaged in a heated debate with some one in person, you can see them. You see their face, their body, their humanity. Thus, even if you might disagree with their ideas, your anger is tempered by your shared humanity. Blog debates lack this human touch. Anyone who posts something contrary to your position, is only vicious, only moronic, only wrong. They do not feel human. Consequently, many blog posters have less motivation to treat their opponents civilly.
So anonymity makes it easier to be vicious on the blogosphere. But there is another factor at play as well. Every negative comment is responded to with an angrier comment, and the viscous spiral continues downward until some truly repulsive comments are made. The blogosphere enables this degradation of rhetoric because commenters are often responding to each other in real time, with no time to calm down, no time to breath.
Now, often the angry words of flamers often have no immediate consequence. The combatants often don’t know anything about each other, a fact which makes it difficult for people to take their conflict from the web world to the real world. But they are still harmful. They allow people who harbor hateful thoughts to learn that they have allies; they encourage people to think vicious thoughts about opposing viewpoints, rather than learn from them; they essentially cheapen discourse.
Is there a solution? Many websites have taken to monitoring their comments sections and screening out the most heinous posts. As long as only the most despicable comments are censored, then monitoring by individual websites might be helpful. But I believe we should avoid governmental monitoring. For as detrimental as flaming maybe, a government driven overcorrection could impair our most vital freedom: speech.
1. The discussion of ways to increase blog traffic produced some interesting suggestions, including shout-outs to reporters and journalists (shameless, but effective) as well as weekly and/or monthly e-mails that include (wait for it) shout-outs to reporters and journalists. Participants also suggested op-eds, radio appearances, and (my favorite) following people around in costumes.
2. One of the speakers identified Red Lasso as a revolutionary tool for bloggers. The service allows users to search recent media content from over 100 media outlets. The note-taker characterized it as a "ginormous Tivo" that was superior to YouTube in certain respects because all clips are synched to searchable transcripts and can be cut to a desired point or length.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Blue Mass Group
Allston-Brighton Community Blog
There's also a space for write-in votes. Be sure to vote for the Blog on Blogs!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
The blog, entitled Evolution of Security, lets the TSA share information on security and safety with the general public and lets the public respond to the articles or with any complaints they might have. What I found the most interesting was the Delete-O-Meter located prominently on the right hand side which tracked the number of user comments that had been deleted (125 when I was on the blog). In the explanation of this feature, the TSA notes that it wants to be transparent - and then goes on to explain what will get a comment deleted.
We talked in class about how transparency leads to greater acceptance on the Web. It seems that the TSA has embraced this philosophy (I can imagine a poster, being angry at finding his comment deleted for no stated reason, spamming the TSA wall and railing against them in other forums....). I posted a while back that the link to the YouTube video below my post seemed to be broken. A classmate of mine pointed out that the video is once again accessible. I thought about changing my post to reflect this.... I may go back and strike through it, but other than that, I don't feel a need to edit it out. All of this goes back to the issue of transparency on the Web. Because it is so easy to change things, people may feel a blog that is constantly edited loses some of the informality that makes a blog great.
It seems to me that the TSA has recognized the need to keep their blog informal if it wants it to be relevant. However, it also recognized the need for moderation of the content. The solution - a Delete-O-Meter!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008