Tue Feb 24th, 2009 at 02:17:51 PM EST
I have no idea what Ragnarok: strimmer edition means, even after reading the post. Just another of life's mysteries. I write this as Colman states:
As it is, the site is heading for closure.
and I'm sitting here missing ET already.
Not being party to the discussions behind the scenes, or present at the creation of ET, I can only speculate on what the original intent or of the success or failure of ET to meet the founders goals for the site may be. I already speculate on other matters, so my quota of wishful thinking and tactical prognostication is pretty well met already.
According to Pew Research, 7% of Americans who use the internet (just Americans, mind you) have created a blog or online diary. That translates to over 8 million people. I've no idea what the figures are worldwide, but this is sufficient to make my point: there are a lot of bloggers out there.
And blogs are a lot of things. The vast majority are personal diaries. Go to LiveJournal, Wordpress.com, blogspot for probably hundreds of thousands of personal diaries. There are some wonderful diarists out there--some of those sites, especially those by artists have been beautifully done. That's one model. At the other end of the spectrum is the completely open community site, like dkos, which though it has one stated purpose (to elect democrats to office), in fact fulfills many purposes. It does fact-checking, commentary, call-to-action and all that, but it also functions as a social networking site, with at least one diarist, plf515, who created and maintains a diary series just on meetups. Semi-journalist blogs, single issue-oriented blogs, academic blogs, bipartisan debating blogs (see Swords Crossed)...the variety accurately reflects the diversity of this crowded globe.
It's a worthwhile pursuit to put your thoughts out there and try to engage the net world in debate. But maintaining a community site can be work. Lots of work. Community sites like this and dkos admit all free of charge, and the resulting level of intellectual acuity will inevitably be...let's just call it "uneven". The solution at dkos is to let the community police itself. Ordinarily, there are no moderation, though in extremis, the dkos god will occasionally insert a well manicured hoof into the proceedings and ban a diarist. The best diarists there get to be front pagers, while the rest of us watch our diaries scroll down the new diary list into oblivion in a matter of minutes.
Many, quality, noteworthy blogs out there tend to be those with restricted access. They may be single-user blogs, sponsored by news outlets, academic blogs, or invitation-only community blogs. Pseudonyms aren't generally used in these--people want their names to be linked with their diaries, and I've found that the use of pseudonyms is almost always a negative indicator as to quality of postings and discussion. Lots of these blogs are listed in various blogrolls I find as I bounce around the net looking for new view points and material. These blogs can get a lot of attention, in spite of the seemingly relative lack of activity. In foreign relations, I find the same sites blogrolled over and over. Abu Aardvark, American Footprints, The Belgravia Dispatch, Passport, and the list goes on and on. The foreign policy community is verbose.
Be it noted that ET was blogrolled in some of these sites, and in at least one, the Passport blog, it has since been dropped. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I've seen dkos blogrolled nowhere but in personal blogs.
We blog for a lot of different reasons, and now it's time to share with you my reasons. I started out wanting to sharpen my writing skills, and because as a result of what I felt at the time was the unmitigated disaster of the Bush administration, I felt the need to scratch a growing partisan itch. When I found dkos, I thought I'd found a home and community. I began there with one or two breaking news posts, some let-me-bring-this-to-your-attention posts about things I'd read or seen on Frontline. I've since deleted just about all of my early posts. No big deal, few read them and if I had 20 comments, that was a lot of attention. I won't say that I've grown or matured as a blogger, but I've definitely changed. I want now to be a better blogger. A serious blogger, if you will, and I may have to shed my pseudonym in the process. (As it is, I've deliberately made it easy enough to find - about two or three clicks away - to anyone here or wherever I post.) While most of the foreign policy community that blogs aims their thinking at other members of the community, I hope for a wider audience eventually. (I know, I know - I won't be this longwinded when the time comes.) I just picked up a book written by a former US ambassador to Israel entitled, Innocents Abroad, which pretty much spells out what I think is wrong about US foreign policy. My long term goal is a more enlightened, culturally sensitive approach to our foreign affairs. I operate under the assumption that there is a great deal of good that can be done in the world by the US and the UN, if we could only figure out how to do it. I'm still in training for the pundit job, though.
I had scheduled a major (for me) post to appear on April 6th. If you know what happened on that date, you can probably figure out what I plan to write about. I'd like to share it here on ET, and if the site is still around then, I plan to come here with it first. Now, I'm serious about this and plan to alert people out there whom I cite, those involved with the issue i'll be writing about, and others that the post will be appearing. These will be authors, one or two government officials, other bloggers, and maybe a journalist or two. Though I'll crosspost, I had planned to bring them here. It helps me, and if I do a good job, it helps the site. I may even submit the post for a kind of peer review first. (Heads up, Gringo!)
So. Why do we all come to ET? What do we hope to accomplish? How can we members of this community help fulfill the aims of the site owners? Is it already too late? I have the day off and await your comments.
UPDATE: Especially Jerome and the frontpagers! You who do all the work and bear all the expense...what are your goals for ET? You know, we like you guys or we wouldn't be here, it's permissible to ask for cooperation, you know.