SUCHITOTO, El Salvador- There has perhaps never before been such a vast medium of writing in which a person can have thousands and thousands of readers and no editor, no private interests to attend to, no checks, few balances, and, as of now, few hands controlling the strings overhead. As of now, an independent blogger can write what they observe as they observe it. There is little outside editorial process, little journalistic review, and the only standard operating procedure we follow are the ones we make ourselves. But blogging is a powerful form of media, the pages that go up on this travelogue compete with those of the top online journals of the conventional press.
It is my impression that the formal media may have the benefits of a well connected infrastructure, they may have the money, they may have a sizable audience and the respect, but when the line is drawn, I feel as though I could potentially have the advantage: I can write it as I see it. I do not have to cater to my audience, I do not have to tip toe around advertisers, I write as a pauper — and a pauper can write honestly.
There is a difference between honesty and truth. Truth is an arm stretching towards the moon, to tell the truth you would need to make a thesis out of each story. Honesty, is speaking as you feel. You can be wrong, reproduce untruths, but if it is what you feel, you are still honest.
This is a very powerful advantage, for sure. Nobody will check what I write before it is written, nobody can shut me up, alter my words, distort my meaning. I am only a blogger, after all.
Nobody is my editor.
Nobody except the readers, that is.
I must admit, a blog’s editors are its commentators. A blogger, in the end, does have some checks, does have some balances — if we are at all consequent, there will be someone waiting to put our throats in their hands, and keep us leashed down to the world of reason.
I write first in the raw — throw out a line — I push the publish button. I sit back and wait to see what takes. If nothing bites then the piece is completed. But if the comment queue is full, then I still have work to do: the editor’s have spoken.
Most often, the editorial review just contributes their opinions, experiences, and tie up the bag on the article; but sometimes, they demand more. I must then comment back and fill up the sack a little more, or go back and alter the piece (secretly) and adapt it to meet editorial standards.
Blogging is a vast, open ended form of writing: you can be wrong, it is okay to err, you do not need to double confirm each statement before publishing, there is no need to really worry about offending your sponsors (unless you have them), or of loosing your job (unless you have one), and your articles will still compete with those in the standard online media. This is what gives the practice its true power. you can allow your point to wander past the threshold of provable reason. You can be interesting.
A good blog entry will beg for editing, it will beg to contribute your opinions. If you fully write an entry, prove your point 100% in 2,000 words, there should, more than likely, be nothing more to say, there will be little room for comments.
This is often not as fun. It is far more engaging to disagree than to agree. It is far more engaging to feel the need to add your opinion to the mass.
Around a half decade ago I was on the road in the middle of a season of archaeology fieldwork in Ohio or Pennsylvania or some such place. I roomed with a fellow coworker from Cameroon. He was of a particularly liberal political bend, but every night he would watch Fox News. In fact, Fox News was all he watched. It seemed like a pretty stupid thing to do. I began questioning my roommate’s intelligence. He would watch Fox News all night long, yelling at the screaming at the television screen. He would be angry. He would turn our little hotel rooms into a man vs. television political melee. It was like watching a neutered dog try to hump.
At first I shrugged it off, maybe this is just what they do in Cameroon?, but then it became apparent:
His disagreeable reaction to what was displayed on the screen before him provided the impetus for stimulation. Fox News, apparently, engaged him more than NPR, or another source of liberal media that he may have found more agreeable. NPR was standard — they reported what he though, not fun in that — Fox News was fun. The human species perhaps knows no higher level of stimulation than while in conflict — stimulation feels good, conflict feels good too. I think my roommate felt good yelling at the television. He certainly did it for some reason.
What can you say when you agree with someone: yup, yup, right on, I agree. Where is the discussion in this?
It is far more fun, apparently, to scream at Fox News than it is to sit back passively listing to that which is speaking the words of your tribe. Try it, read something that you don’t agree with, watch how your wheels not only turn, but spin hot out of control. It also makes you feel real smart to tell someone how dumb they are. It is fun.
Though the fun does not end here. I believe it is also fun to add on to what you DO agree with as well, to build an idea further, to take one piece of me and combine it with one piece of you. This is also stimulating.
The blogger should flit between these two extremes, leaving articles rounded out and closed is good, but to leave a back door open is even better. All good songs have a hook, the melody that grabs you and gets you into it — the feel good part of an anthem. A blog post should also include these hooks as well, the twist that makes you want to tell me and everybody else what you think. A good blog post will inspire an uncontainable urge for you to speak:
Even if you just yell at the computer screen.
Blogging is a form of writing that should encourage — DEMAND — reader participation, it demands voluntarily editing of content. We are not writing for Time magazine. No, we do not want to bore you by telling you the way something is, we want to start a conversation with you about something. The man who knows everything is an annoying mutha to talk with. What would be stimulating about someone just telling you about everything without leaving room for participation?
Media is now two ways, writing needs to evolve to meet this new parameter.
Blogging is not just a new medium for writing, it is a new style of writing. A blogger’s job is to conceive the idea, impregnate the hefer. It is the job of the commentators to raise the calf. I do not want to educate you here, this is not my goal. My purpose is to learn with you. I am only the first man on the assembly line: I take the goods in the raw and process them into a tangible block, and then I pass them on to the next man on the on the line, who will add his part, and pass it on down. The style, syntax, and format of the writing on a blog must be set to encourage the hallmark of the art: reader participation, an article that becomes a conglomeration of ideas, not one continuous thread.
The commentators are a blog’s editors, they are the ones who push new directions. The commentators are the ones who pick the articles up off of the ground and gives them life, allows the content to continuously evolve — they unstick a piece of writing from the temporal restrictions of its initial publication. Time magazine is a dead end street: it ends abruptly — there is nowhere else to go, you throw it in a trash bin when done.
The difference between the conventional media and blogging is perhaps the same difference as watching a professional sport on the TV or playing the game in your own backyard.
Which is performed better?
But which is more fun?
Which would you rather do?
Thank you for being my editor.
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