Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogoshere Instructs Mad Dog

I am new to blogs and, some would say, a neophyte in the new world of on line exchange.

But I do have this blog, so I'm trying.

Yesterday, I discovered Gail Collins has a blog with David Brooks and the way they do it is to post a back and forth between them and then you, as the reader can respond in this little box called "Comment."

I typed in my comment and used a friend's name and then...nothing. A little pop up said I'd get an email about my comment having been accepted. Nothing, so I typed in my comment again and seeing nothing in my email, gave up.

Later, I checked and found my two identical submissions among 90 others. A day later there were almost 300 comments, most of which made exactly the same points. There was no real exchange of ideas, no back and forth among the respondents.

But there is voting!

This confused me mightily. The first comment got 400 votes. You vote by checking a box called "Recommended." By around comment 100, nobody was getting any votes; Presumably very few people were reading past comment 100.

But then, a new discovery: One reader's comments were highlighted in blue as being judged particularly thoughtful, the explanation said. Who thought it was thoughtful was never explained. Gail Collins? David Brooks? Or some intern assigned to blog management?

The comment did seem to summarize many of the points made in about 200 of the submissions.

Yes, I did read through all the comments.

It was an mind numbing experience.

It has made me wonder: Why are we all doing this?

We are talking at each other, not with each other.

It reminded me of Samuel Johnson's question: Why is it there is so much writing, and so little reading?

I will have to think again about my own blog.


  1. No, please keep it up. It is thought provoking in the manner of John Stewart, even if it isn't a conversation.

  2. Yeah - hang in there a little while yet. I agree about the lack of conversation when the comments are delayed but let me tell you it ain't exactly all that edifying when the moderators post the comments in a reasonably timely fashion. Here in Australia, my preferred newspaper is and they often have a comments section attached to articles on line, particularly those related to politics or hot political issues, in particular at the moment, climate change/global warming and the introduction of a price on carbon and CO2 emissions. After you have read the comments over a few days you start to see that most of them come from a hard core of readers and then you start to suspect, particularly when the comments are so personally insulting and poisonous, that many of them are staffers in the offices of politicians.
    In addition, you are dealing with an extraordinarily and disappointingly high level of general and popular ignorance. In today's Age is an interesting article about the difficulties of getting people to see reason when they are so much more easily influenced by emotion, belief and faith. How can you have a rational conversation about science-based evidence with a population of which 22% believe in witches and 34% believe in UFOs?