Thursday, March 29, 2007

The uses of the blogosphere

That very badly argued* article about blogging in last Monday's Australian, which they syndicated from The Sunday Times and saw fit to run on Page 3 on a day when there was all sorts of actual news happening both at home and abroad, got picked up by Virginia Trioli on Sydney radio on Tuesday morning, whence it spread to a sort of meta-discussion in the blogosphere.

We were treated to the extraordinary sight of Tim Blair's and the Larvatus Prodeo Collective's hearts beating as one, regarding the silliness of all concerned in the greatly exaggerated reports of blogging's death.

(It still bemuses me that people's willingness to bang on negatively about blogging increases in direct inverse proportion to their knowledge of it. I am far more inclined to listen to, say, former blogger Weathergirl, who when last heard of -- by me, I mean -- had decided that blogging was bad for you and served no real useful purpose. I was prepared to take this seriously because Weathergirl had been an active blogger for quite a while and knew whereof she spoke.)

The ensuing discussion at LP about the nature and uses of blogging got me thinking that, say, the medical profession -- just to use one example of blogging's potential -- should be trawling the blogosphere every spare chance it gets. There are squillions of personal blogs devoted to various bodily ills -- cancer, infertility, horrible degenerative neurological things like poor Brainhell's ailment -- and many of them are written by highly articulate, intelligent and well-informed bloggers like Twisty and Lymphopo in the States, and closer to home, Stephanie at Humanities Researcher and Meredith at Marrickvillia.

If I were a medical researcher I would be looking very closely at such bloggers' gripping narratives and descriptions of their own personal, detailed, daily experiences with disease over time, and correlating data in as much detail as I could. I don't think people in general have even started to realise the potential worth and usefulness of blogging yet.

*The article's main 'argument' is that there are a lot of abandoned blogs littering up cyberspace, therefore blogging qua blogging must be 'a failure' and 'dead'. You might just as well argue that the literary novel is a stupid fad because there are so many unfinished and abandoned fiction manuscripts hidden at the backs of wardrobes all over the world. And that's only if you accept in the first place the idea of a blog as a product or a commodity, whereas it's actually a process designed for interactivity rather than for passive consumption. 'Blog' is short for 'weblog' and a log is a diary or daily record, ephemera almost by definition and never designed either for permanence or for judgement.

The people who trash blogs for being trash are applying standards that don't apply. It's like dissing a dog for not being a cat.


Anonymous said...

Or dissing choc chip hot cross buns?

hee hee hee

Pavlov's Cat said...

No no no. Different thing altogether.

But I think you might need to ask yourself whether you've got a little problem. 'Hello, my name's Anonymous and I'm addicted to choc chips.'


elsewhere said...

I've come across medical blogs written by doctors. Some of them are interested in cross-referencing both popular and scientific articles on particular diseases and conditions.

Anthony said...

yeah, so what's with Weathergirl? A cryptic post at LP and now your reference. As someone whose been involved in the non-mainstream mainstream media (ie print/small magazine scene) she has my respect. But if she's fed up with blogging - as you hint - I suppose I can't expect her to explain her position in a blog or otherwise online. Perhaps she could send me a letter. We're caught in a bind here.

GoAwayPlease said...

great post Ms.Cat; and re your very good point about 'medical information and blogs':
an invisible epidemic* described by the term 'fibromyalgia' is documented passionately on blogs, whereas the GP's Standard Consultation time of 10 minutes absolutely cannot get near this condition.

(*it must be caused by something modern in packaged foods, and sufferers pray for their own Dr.HOUSE)

R H said...

They're threatened, and I'm not surprised. But blogs are permanent. Some writers will get their training from it, as they have from the advertising industry, and (dare we say it) journalism.

Mindy said...

I wonder if there are a lot of publishing houses breathing a sigh of relief as their slush piles of wannabe novels subside as people work of their urge to be published in the blogosphere?

Anonymous said...

Virginia Trioli's eyes are too close together and she should go back to Melbourne, quit Friday's Lateline and give 702 Sydney back to a less officious presenter.