Saturday, May 03, 2008

Patterns in the Blogosphere

The Blogosphere has followed many other technological inventions that promise to be empowering. When the Blog phenomenon hit in 2002 there was a lot of speculation that it would totally change everything regarding how reporting was done, what voices could be heard. But what also happened is that not only radicals or people who were in some way marginalized but people who were part of the political establishment itself used the opportunity to get their voices out there. These voices became a large part of the Progressive blogosphere. I'm talking about lawyers practicing in Washington D.C. and consultants to think tanks. The power of the blogosphere has been diluted by the mainstream co-opting it while claiming to not be mainstream at all. Of course there are issues besides that like who exactly has the time to write many blog posts, me for example, and who doesn't, and whether that distorts the availability of voices out there, but the big issue to me seems to be the redefinition of Progressive to mean just a hair's breadth away from being centrist. The incestuous nature of Progressive blogging reinforces this because in the constant quoting and requoting of blogs and material from blogs the ultimate sources as well as the ultimate examples of success are the almost centrist writings from the large blogs like the Daily Kos and Eschaton.

There's a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing in this sector of the blogosphere, just more business as usual, making finding the really unique voices out there that much harder, especially because the mainstream blogs get larger followings. The ones that have very large readerships probably get them because their views aren't that far outside the mainstream. Which isn't to say that everyone who doesn't get a lot of hits is therefore secretly sticking it to the man.... But finding real progressive voices is difficult....

I'm tired and am going to go off and rent Adrzej Wajda's film "Katyn", about the massacre of Polish officers by Soviet troops during World War II. Nice and happy. Maybe I'll finish this blogosphere thought...or not...I don't know.

*on edit: Well the version of Katyn that they had doesn't have any English subtitles.
But thinking about the factors influencing my ability to blog, moving across the country from Florida to Washington State specifically to finish up college at Evergreen and to study radical theory is something that I'm guessing very few people could do. I started out at ultra-elite New York University, where I left during my second semester, did a semester stint at another four year school, then dropped out of the higher ed. system entirely. While at Evergreen I was able to actually augment my own personal reading of radical theory, as well as augment the activism I was involved with, by studying it on a university level.

Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest I had the good opportunity to live in Gainesville Florida, home to one of the most extensive alternative libraries of radical literature in the country, the Civic Media Center, which I became very involved with, volunteering there and putting on several small events. Lots of information and points of view that would otherwise be very difficult to find proved to be carried by them.

The other college that I went to for a semester after NYU was Earlham College, a private Quaker founded school in Indiana, which provided my first real plug in to the radical community, well sort of. I took a radical political economy class there, was involved with a non-denominational socialist group, and learned an awful lot about Quaker traditions of social justice.

We can trace it back further, the point being that through the past and up till the present I've been an especially lucky mother fucker for having the opportunities that I've had that have directly contributed to my ability and inclination to keep writing this blog focussing on the topics I focus on.

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