Did Shakespeare have anything to say about journalists? What would the Bard think of webloggers who really really really need to be called “journalists”? Or of journalists who are repulsed at the very thought that a mere weblog might be deemed to be journalism? Until I locate Shakespeare folios on the topic, I shall gladly settle for Ernest Miller’s insights. After suffering through a BloggerCon panel discussion Saturday — the Important Mr. Miller had a few wise words on Journalists, Publishers and Blogging. For example:
“I would think that, by now, we would have realized the journalism is a particular set of practices. Publishing is another set of practices. The two are obviously related, but they are orthogonal.”
It seems, despite my attempts to stem the tide last November — with Does the Blogosphere Exist? — that many denizens of Weblog World are still (1) taking themselves much too seriously, and/or (2) confusing their enthusiasm for an (almost-)new publishing platform and technology with some quantuum leap in human intelligence, diligence and virtue. At the ever-present risk of being pedantic, I’m going to repeat part of ethicalEsq’s post (penned shortly after the release of the Perseus White Paper, The Blogging Iceberg, by Jeffrey Henning):
As with other breakthroughs in communications technology — such as the printing press and telephone — the substance of the communications could not have been predicted early in their evolution, nor could their social effects. Frankly, however, you wouldn’t have to be a curmudgeon to conclude that the lowest common denominator seems to dominate virtually all forms of communication.
It would have been premature for idealists to hold PrinterCon1503 or PhonerCon1903 in order to trumpet a new age of raised consciousness based on easier communication. Similarly, there seems to be no reason to assume — unless good people wishing it so is enough — that web log technology will somehow on its own elevate communications and relations within or across societies. If history is a guide, the forces of trivialization will dominate the use of the new technology. Technology doesn’t change human nature as much as it heightens it. As the weblog becomes a tool in political campaigns, for example, it seems more likely that what is bad about politics will infect weblogging than that weblogging will somehow raise the level of political discourse or behavior.
The relatively small band who make up the elite of the blogosphere cannot afford to assume that their own enthusiasm, intelligence and good intentions are representative of the masses of “bloggers.” Even with the best intentions, human nature will surely have more of an effect on weblogging than weblogging on human nature. Expecting a significantly larger share of the population to “get serious” merely because weblogging now exists, requies a leap of faith that few can make. There is no certainty about the effects of weblogging on the global society — and no clear roadmap for getting the planet to a better place.
“First snowfall, blah-blah”
people in the world
in the cellar
followsup: (Nov. 8, 200) how far we’ve come since PhoneCon I
(Nov. 9, 2004) Lessig on the exit polling problems: “If blogs are going to be something more than the CB radios of journalism, we need an ethic to treat this sort of question ethically.”
(Nov. 11, 2004) If you came here via RiskProf to read about Shakespeare and lawyers see oh, that Shakespeare, he just slays me!.