Post-Modern or Neo-Romanticism blogging?

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

Last night, I attended Colin McEnroe’s Class on Blogging. It was partly a debrief for people after the Lamont campaign, yet it was also another chance to talk about the wild wild west of the internet and whether or not bloggers are journalists or not. While this is the sort of discussion I’ve listened to too many times over the past few years, Colin and his class always manage to make it vibrant, interesting, and to bring out a new twist.

Last night slothsinabox floated the idea of bloggers as being some sort of Neo-Romanticism movement. Spazeboy joked about this by putting a picture of Fabio on his blog, which prompted slothsinabox to write up a blog post expounding on what she meant.

It is a very good blog post. I agree with some of what she is saying but I think it needs to be pushed further. Slothsinabox spoke about the movement away from “carefully vetted ideas constructed with a keen eye toward objectivity, attention to societal expectations and norms, and the practice of approaching all literary production, acts of authorship and thought with a critical lens.” She expressed concern that “Ultimately, it becomes a question of whether, … we as untrained individuals really have a grasp of how to read with a critical lens and how to write with a nod toward social responsibility.”

She ties it together with this: “This brings us to a basic Lockean and Hobbesian debate--is man basically good, or basically bad? Can we trust individual bloggers' ethics”.

This then, ties into a meta discussion I tried to get going in the class. There was a bit of a discussion about how to handle trolls on blogs. Do you not allow comments at all? Do you only allow comments from authenticated users? Do you block certain IP addresses? Do you moderate comments, either before or after the fact? I suggested that an important part of this is the process of establishing societal expectations in an online environment.

Perhaps some of the neo-romanticism is that we are interacting in new media where the societal expectations haven’t been clearly defined. We are in the process of defining those expectations, and there are not the clear sources of authority that exist in other social settings. After all, how many people do you know that have taken graduate level courses in blogging? I guess this takes me back to some sort of post-modern perspective. Societal expectations, ethics, critical lens, and even the way we chose to organize information are social constructs.

As an aside, I would encourage people, especially those involved in library sciences, to check out David Weinberger’s blog post, Why Dewey's Decimal System is prejudiced. We also talked a lot about blogging from a U.S. perspective. I tried to tie in a global perspective, pointing to Global Voices.

So, I do believe that the advent of the internet has given us a wonderful opportunity to look at the social constructs around us, to question them, and to perhaps build new constructs. I recognize the dangers in this that slothsinabox fears. Yet to me, that argument sounds too close to why we shouldn’t have a democracy. Is man basically good or bad? Can we trust untrained individuals to elect leaders that will find the common good? Or should we have some sort of oligarchy or benevolent dictator to make sure that are social constructs are properly defended.

Me? I believe in democracy, both politically and in our communications online. So, I embrace a mix of neo-romanticism and post-modernism, which I recognize is likely to lead to yet another new orthodoxy. Yet, I will fight for democracy and encourage people to question norms as long as I can.

vlogs from frontline housing activists

I also wanted to quickly highlight another site for politically aware videos: Homeless Nation's Videos.

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Random Stuff

The Orient Lodge server has been down for a few days. It is fixed and back up. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Some of you have created userids here, but reported probably logging in. Send me a note at ahynes1 at optonline dot net and I can try to fix this.

I'm slowly digging out. More soon.

Rootscamp in Second Life

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release
Contact: Aldon Huffhines, Drew Frobozz, Ruby Glitter

secondlife://Better World/108/95/29
Even before all the votes have been counted from the 2006 midterm elections, progressive political activists gathered at RootsCamp on Better World Island in Second Life to debrief from the midterms and plan innovative strategies to use technology in the 2008 election cycle.

Over the next several days, activists will share ideas and experiences. People interested in actively participating are encouraged to join in. More information is available at


Post Election Day Blues

(Cross posted at Greater Democracy)

This news won't break my heart
It's already been blown apart
I feel like a helpless girl
In this tender troubled world

It’s something I seem to get every November, those Post Election Day Blues. I work my heart off fighting for a candidate and a cause I believe in only to get it blown apart, never to see the promised land.

Oh but the promised land
Is just across another line in the sand

But you know? That is where the hope really lies. I’ve written before about this. Winning isn’t about getting elected, it is about changing the dialog, and last night, Ned Lamont’s victory became apparent. Gov. Dean stood up and spoke out when it wasn’t popular to do so. What did that get him? The DNC Chairmanship, where he started pushing an unlikely idea, the Fifty State Strategy. What an idea, that we should have a vigorous discussion about the direction the country is going in every precinct in America. It was supposed to be a long term strategy. Rebuilding a political party takes years, it takes many election cycles, or so we thought.

Ned Lamont stood up and said, “If Sen. Lieberman won’t challenge President Bush’s failed policies, then I will”. After defeating Sen. Lieberman in the primary, a lot more people started challenging President Bush’s failed policies. The discussions around the dinner tables became a little more vigorous. What happens next? I don’t know, but I do have my suggestions.

While the candidates that I worked hardest for last night were not elected, many others were and there is a lot to be joyful about.

Last night, I was asked about these “Stand up for Change” signs that were all over the place. Someone hadn’t followed the bus tour as closely as some of us. They asked, is that a new leadership PAC or 527 that Ned is going to grow out of his campaign, sort of like how Gov. Dean formed Democracy for America out of his 2004 Presidential bid?

I don’t know, but it fits well with my hope that we all stay together. That was the topic of many of my discussions. One person came up and said, “This changing the world stuff is really exhausting”. Yeah, it takes more time and takes more energy than any of us would really like. We might not even see the promised land, but it is what we must keep on doing.

In the background, the band Black47 played. They started one song with the melody of Skye Boat Song, an all too apt melody for the night. It is about Bonnie Prince Charlie’s flight to the Isle of Skye after some disastrous battles for Scottish independence. The last verse ends with “Charlie will come again”.

So, what about us? At the end of Ned’s concession speech last night, he continued his call for bringing our troops home to the heroes welcome they deserve. He continued his call for sensible foreign policy, for affordable health care for all. He said he approved that message and we all responded, “And so do we”. Yes, the dialog has changed, and it is a good thing. We need to keep the dialog going and the change alive.

Outside, a light rain is falling. Lucy Kaplansky’s song, “Line in the Sand”, which I quote at the beginning of this blog entry ends off with

”I hope a forgiving rain will fall sometime
And wash away that line”

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