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Or, My Navel is Quite Interesting, Thank You


As far as solipsistic synopses of premature punditry go, this, by Scott Rosenberg (author of Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters) is pretty damn sharp. (h/t)

It starts off with some throat-clearing repetition of conventional wisdom about technological history (of fairly recent vintage, incidentally), which initially made me a bit doubtful (which isn’t to say I disagree, precisely; it’s just history and its interpretation are a bit…elastic), but then quickly starts flinging the analytic insights fast and furious.

For example:

A blog lets you define yourself, whereas on a social network you are more likely to be defined by others. Sure, blog readers can write comments — but the blogger can delete the comments, or disemvowel them, or turn them off entirely. Sure, a blog is dependent on the links you point outward and those that others point in; but it has its own independent existence in a way that no amount of messaging and chat and interaction on a social networking site can match.


A blog lets you raise your voice without asking anyone’s permission, and no one is in a position to tell you to shut up. It is, as the journalism scholar Jay Rosen puts it, “a little First Amendment machine,” an engine of free speech operating powerfully at a fulcrum-point between individual autonomy and the pressures of the group.


Blogging uniquely straddles the acts of writing and reading; it can be private and public, solitary and gregarious, in ratios that each practitioner sets for himself. … Nothing else so richly combines the invitation to speak your mind with the opportunity to mix it up with other minds.

Now, if I were a history blogger truly worthy of being listed on the Cliopatria blogroll, I’d follow this with some kind of comparison to how people thought about the invention of the rotary printing press or the clipper ship or political parties some such thing…but I have quasi-valid philosophical objections (see above, re: history of technological progress) and besides, it’s late and I am tired, so no go. Have an orange instead, they’re cheap.

Image cite:Robert S. Donovan, “navel oranges 99¢ LB,” Flickr, CC License