The liberal blogosphere as a village,

the question is, what sort of village.

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

Over on MyDD, Micah Sifry has posted his thoughts on the meeting former President Clinton had with a group of bloggers. Matt Stoller, who attended the meeting, has this post up talking about some of the impressive stuff another blogger, Jane Hamsher, who also attended the meeting is doing. In his post, he writes, Like Chris, I'm feeling bored by the political environment, and somewhat useless.

I mentioned this to a friend who wrote that he wasn’t worried about the post and went on to talk about new connections being forged.

Perhaps it is what is going on in my personal life that is fueling my worry. About two weeks ago, my wife’s face went numb. She rushed off to the hospital to make sure it wasn’t a stroke. It turned out to be Bell’s Palsy, a common symptom of Lyme disease.

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been dealing with this. The ability to detect and treat Lyme disease, like any other important medical advance has come as a result of people working together. As John DeStefano often says in his stump speech, none of us got to where we are by ourselves. We all stand on other people’s shoulders. We go to work on roads paved by others.

It has become more personal to me, as friends have brought food, have taken care of Fiona when I’ve had to take Kim to the doctors, have given me rides to take care of a broke down car, provide invaluable moral support, and so on. To borrow from the title of Hillary Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village. It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to care for a loved one.

So, I think it is useful to look at the liberal blogosphere as a special village, a global village of sorts, to borrow from McLuhan. Working with the Lamont campaign, I’ve seen the great things that can happen when nationally known bloggers work closely with local bloggers, and with people who haven’t even read a blog yet. So, when I read about Matt or Chris getting bored, I worry. They are important parts of our liberal global village. When I read about bloggers feeling left out, I worry, they too are important parts of our liberal global village.

I’m sorry to get all mushy on you and stuff like this, but this is really important. We need to find ways to work together to help our country rediscover a government, of, by, and for the people. a country where everyone’s voice is important. We need to uphold people like Matt and Chris. We need to connect with bloggers that aren’t feeling connected. We need to raise up a new generation of bloggers.

Jeffery Feldman has some good ideas on this, as does Terrance at The Republic of T. I want to thank them for what they are doing. I want to thank people standing by Matt and Chris, and especially I want to thank everyone who has stood by Kim and I while we battle her Lyme disease.

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Blogging at 37

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

Back when I was in college, Jerry Rubin visited my campus as part of a book tour promoting his book, “Growing (up) at 37”. Some of my friends protested his visit with signs saying “Cashing in at 37”. I really didn’t pay close enough attention, so I have no opinion about whether he was growing up, cashing in, or a little of both.

Years later, during my cashing in period, I worked with a management consultant who pointed me to Joseph Campbell’s book, “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. During a particularly difficult period we talked about the return of the hero. After the hero’s life changing adventures, he returns to his town and teaches and helps those around him to learn from his experiences.

These provide a backdrop to part of my understanding of some of the larger issues embedded in the recent discussions about certain A-list bloggers meeting with former President Clinton.

Over the past few years, the community of progressive bloggers has grown stronger and more powerful. I have seen much of that power first hand with my work for the Lamont campaign. The power elite of bloggers that were invited to the Clinton meeting represent to many people the heroes of this new community, and the question that sits in many people’s minds is, will they be growing up at 37, and exhibiting the traits of the returned heroes, will they be cashing in at 37 taking from the community that has made them strong, or a little of both. It is my hope that most of them will wear the mantle of returned hero proudly and continue to help build the community and to nurture new bloggers.

Yet I’m not part of that group. Tens, if not hundreds of people read what I write. I hope my assorted posts around the blogosphere help a little bit here and there, but I don’t have the audience of the A-listers. I probably never will and that is okay.

But still, I too am driven by a desire to make this a better country, to promote progressive ideals, to get people to think and act in ways that Democrats should be proud of. So, what can I do?

What I think I do best is to help build bridges and to help train new bloggers. By building bridges, by exploring new online communities, by trying to help nurture them, I am doing the little I can. Terrence, of the Republic of T has a proposal for moving forward. It relates nice with Jeffrey Feldman’s proposal as well as a small amount of what I was driving at with this diary.

We can, and should, be looking at ways to build community, diversity and welcome new bloggers. Some of it may happen at YearlyKos 07. Some of it may happen at other events around the country. I just hope that all of us, from the mighty A-listers, to lowly bloggers like myself can work together to make this happen.

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The New Elite in the Fourth Estate, you have the power, the danger of a new incumbency, and holding on to the long tail.

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

Three years ago, many of us went to rallies where a presidential candidate told us, “You have the power”. We dutifully replied, “We have the power” and went about owning our newfound power in different ways. Some of us did what we were told as volunteers, some became leaders of new or revitalized Democratic clubs or local parties. Some of us went on to become candidates or even elected officials. Some of us are now incumbents running for re-election. Many of us found our voice online. Gov. Dean has gone on to become head of the DNC.

At a meeting in Burlington a year or so ago, I warned that as we became the new leaders, the new consultants, we also would become the new incumbents, and we faced the danger of acting out our own version of the line from Animal Farm, “All grassroots activists are created equal, but some or more equal than others.”

This has come home to me with the recent discussions of a meeting of bloggers with President Clinton. Two years ago, I was privileged to be one of the bloggers that received credentials to cover the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. I remember the blog posts back then about who got to go and who didn’t. It is a difficult issue when there are few slots available. Some of the posts sounded like people expressing their disappointment about not making the short list, but others raised important points about what the selection criteria was, or should have been.

Now, there is a similar discussion about the Clinton gathering. The Republic of T started it off. Liza picks up the ball and runs with it. Micah Sifry at Personal Democracy Forum and kid oakland, in a DailyKos diary explore the issue further.

The most blaring concern is the lack of racial diversity. This is a big problem that I cannot speak nearly as well as Liza can about, perhaps in part because of my own whiteness. Yet I suspect the lack of racial diversity is just the most blatant part of the problem. Micah writes about how “power is seductive” and “most of them [the invited bloggers] were pretty awed by the event”. The bloggers represented are the new elite of the fourth estate. They have a great number of readers. They are the high frequency population in a statistical distribution, and not the Long Tail.

The problem is, they also have the danger of being a monoculture. Part of the beauty of the long tail is the diversity, the hybrid vigor that it brings. So, I get worried when I read writeups about the event, such as Christy Hardin Smith saying, “we wanted to emphasize the need for better messaging and coordination/cooperation with blogs and the Democratic leadership”. Whose message is being coordinated?

Do we have a new elite in the fourth estate? Do we have grassroots activists that are more equal than others? Have we moved from Edward R. Murrow, whom the http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/M/htmlM/murrowedwar/murrowedwar.htm >Museum of Broadcast Communications describes as “the most distinguished and renowned figure in the history of American broadcast journalism,” and Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in television news” to a new generation?

Perhaps. Yet the long tail remains. The belief that all of us have the power, and not just a select few, remains. The belief that anyone can start a blog and get their voice heard remains. Yes, there is the problem with getting people to read our little blogs. There is the big problem of the digital divide. The voices that we really need to hear, the voices of the dispossessed, the disabled and the disenfranchised, regardless of their race, do not have access to blogs, and if they do, know one ever finds their blogs. Perhaps Winston Smith was right when he wrote, “If there is hope, it lies in the proles”. Perhaps what really matters isn’t lunch with a former President to better coordinate messaging, but helping at a Community Technology Center to bring new voices online.

I’ve looked at blogs from both sides now, from win and lose, and still somehow, it’s blogs’ illusions I recall. I really don’t know blogs, at all.

Updates

Lyme Disease

Yes. It is official. Kim has Lyme disease and facial paralysis known as Bell’s Palsy. Her face started going numb during a meeting on September 8th. She called her doctor who told her to go straight to the emergency room. Facial paralysis can be a symptom of a few different things. Two of the most common are strokes and Lyme disease. Kim’s vitals were fine so it wasn’t a stroke, and Lyme disease was the most likely suspect.

They prescribed prednisone for the Bell’s Palsy. There was some confusion over her antibiotics. The center for infectious diseases recommends starting the course of antibiotics when there is strong indication of Lyme disease, even before a positive test comes back. A resident at the hospital called us and said he would call in the prescription. However, this got lost in the shuffle and the prescription didn’t get called in until Monday afternoon, after the Lyme disease test came back positive, several trips to the pharmacist and several phone calls.

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Almost overwhelmed

9/11

I read a lot about the path to remember 9/11. Meanwhile, I’ve been bombarded by online social network requests. There is a blog post there worth writing.

Lyme Disease?

Kim is very sick. She has Bell’s Palsy. She has slept all weekend. We are waiting for test results to see if it is Lyme disease. I’m running around getting meds, taking care of Fiona, etc. Developing.

New Canaan Democratic Picnic

I took Fiona there. Much more to write about that, when I get a chance.

40 Laptops to clean

For a group I’m working with, I just purchased 40 used laptops from a private school in a neighboring town. I’m cleaning off all the stickers, personal data, viruses, old software etc. Thinking about these laptops, the digital divide, Gina, Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Edwards, etc. There is a lot of stuff to write about this.

My own computer crashing

My main computer is about ten years old. It crashed several times this weekend. I lost some of my personal scheduling stuff. This added more work, more to worry about, and if I forget something important this week, that’s why.

About 1000 unread emails

Things pile up quickly when I’m otherwise occupied. On top of that, I haven’t visited a blog in several days. Bloglines lists 18,527 unread posts.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, that’s why.

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