Anyone who creates something and wishes for their creation to be public, could be classed as arrogant. After all, they have a vision or an object - a voice that they hope others would hear. They have made something they are proud of and want to share with the world. Or perhaps they have an opinion that they feel must become known to more than just the random relative, or work colleague who cares enough to listen. So we could call authors, artists, journalists, columnists, stand-up comics; a whole heap of people, arrogant by default, but we, as a society, tend not to. Instead, bloggers are sometimes referred to as no better than monkeys with typewriters. What is so different about bloggers? Why do many producers and consumers of the more "traditional" media often make statements like these:
Bloggers are no better than those bloody awful senders of Round Robin Christmans letters. Self centred and arrogant. Greedy for more than 15 minutes of fame.
Left as a comment by Josephine Bennington to an article about the digital revolution, at BBC.co.uk.
What is so wrong about wanting more than 15 minutes of fame, I wonder, Josephine? That's not a new thing in the world. It is not the exclusive right of Bloggers. The "Look Ma!" instinct is strong in people. I would also love to ask her a few questions, such as: Do you ever answer in more than one word, when asked "how are you?" Because surely, that could be considered bloody self-centred. Ah, but bloggers announce "how they are" to the whole world! Stuart doesn't like that one bit:
Blogs: Badly written, mundane drivel from under-informed, over-opinionated people. All the digital revolution has achieved is to give a platform to the "me, me, me" generation. It has given the pub boor a megaphone. (As before), Stuart, UK
But Stuart, a megaphone is something you can't ignore, whereas a blog is handy in that you don't have to read it if you don't want to.
Obviously Stuart's opinion, given online, to an article from where both of these comments came, is so important that he can begrudgingly put his distaste for opinionated people making themselves heard through the aid of the evil digital revolution to one side.
Blogs are pathetic - suddenly every person on the planet has an opinion that just has to be heard. (As before), Paul Charters, Sutton, UK
Paul, this is not "suddenly". Everyone on this planet has something they wish others could hear. Whether that's a personal take on something mundane, or a shared feeling, or a criticism of world affairs - don't we share these things with each other every day? What has happened "suddenly" though, is that a new medium, through which everyone can reach a wider audience has made an entrance and it looks like a little more than a fad.
Blogs do not have much of an access barrier, apart from the ability to get to a computer that has an online connection. That's beginning to be a very low rim these days, though there are, of course, millions to whom reaching for this barrier would still be impossible (and unimportant).
Bloggers can, and do come in all flavours. There are arrogant ones among them, but that doesn't make all bloggers arrogant by default, just like one arrogant newspaper columnist doesn't make all newspaper columnists arrogant by default. Blogging is accessible, and at its basic level - incredibly easy, but just because it is possible for an absolute ignorant moron to start one, doesn't mean that all bloggers are absolute ignorant morons. Only an absolute ignorant moron would make a statement that suggested this was the case.
The World Wide Web is a way in which people can reach out for other people. It's a tool with which to engage yourself with the world in a way that has not been previously possible. Blogging is just one expression of that. The critique of the faceless readership is often very simple: "will read that" or "don't want to read that", which means that whilst there are many blogs that have barely evolved from Txt MsgIng, they won't be the well read or influential ones. The surfing blog reader will choose exactly what they find entertaining, or informative. This frightens many of the producers of "traditional media" and in cases of well researched and well written political blogs, the influence of which has sometimes surpassed that of the news broadcast or a newspaper, the world of current affairs and political reporting has been irreversibly altered as a result of the humble Blog.
It's funny to see some people getting all uppity about blogging, podcasting, etc and whether they're new or not, or faddish or not, sad or not... we who blog, blog, those who don't, don't. Nothing more to it. There is good and there is bad and, naturally, the best and most interesting stuff rises to the top and stays. (As before), Vitriolica Webb, Portugal
So are bloggers arrogant because they don't have the qualifications to be journalists? Many journalists don't have the qualifications to be journalists. Many rely on second hand newsfeeds, or press releases and do not go out of their way to present an objective view. And without wishing to over-state the obvious: many journalists themselves have blogs. Surely that doesn't nullify their skills and experience?
Many bloggers can become overly proud and arrogant as a result of popularity. Again, such traits are not exclusive to bloggers. The best part is, that once such a thing happens to a blogger, it just leads to a new "layer" of commentators who become the new watchdogs.
[Ana Marie Cox, Editor of Wonkette.com] also noted how blogs themselves are changing, observing that more- political blogs that have served as watchdogs on the mainstream media now look more like that segment of the media themselves: "They're cliqueish, they're arrogant, they get things wrong." From the article covering Wall Street Journal's "All things digital" conference, held in May 2005.
Could it be that the truly arrogant bloggers are the ones who seek to emulate the traditional media?
Dan Gillmor, the former San Jose Mercury-News columnist who founded Grassroots Media Inc., noted that pressure on old-line media is not coming just from the greater choices in what to read, but in how readers interact with what they read. "People have all these new options in terms of where they get what they want and how much they want to participate," he said, comparing what's happening in journalism to "bringing the conversation into what had been a lecture," with readers now talking back to journalists. From the article covering Wall Street Journal's "All things digital" conference, held in May 2005.
Maybe that's the key difference. Not lecturing at people from behind the semi-anonymous avatar of traditional journalism. Speaking with your own voice and being open to discussion and challenge, and treating each attempt at interaction with at least some respect. Having some accountability, doing a little research, providing examples - and the scary part: considering the opinions of others. There are some journalists who achieve this and there are some bloggers who achieve this, but it'd be interesting to find out exactly what the ratio on these points really is in Blogging versus traditional media.
Mena Trott, co-founder of Six Apart, which created the TypePad service and Movable Type software, sought to remind the audience that not all blogging is made for a national or even international mass audience, observing that "I had no ambition to write in a political form … I was the chief egotist at my house."
Ms. Trott said blogs' average connection is about six people and called herself an "accidental entrepreneur," noting that her desire to tell stories about her family and her childhood led her to create a software product.
From the article covering Wall Street Journal's "All things digital" conference, held in May 2005.
Not all bloggers are seeking a mass audience. Many wish to simply find a handful of likeminded people. I know bloggers who are almost totally confined to their homes through illness and find the daily interaction a lifeline. I know bloggers who are so busy taking care of their families, or going through such a stressful or extraordinary time in their lives that they just wish to reach out. They write about the mundane things not to shout out "I am important and you should notice me, me, me!". They write about their lives because they hope that someone, somewhere, will relate, nod, smile, cry, maybe even write back and connect.
Look out for more Joint topic challenges in the future! Don't forget to visit: “The Void Zero”, “The accidental taorist”, “Smoochdog”, “Momentary lapses of insanity”, “Life without Icka” for their take on the subject - all due to be posted some time today, on 11th of September 2005.
Some of the best writing can come out of ordinary situations. Not that all the bloggers are even trying to be excellent writers, but the ones that are, could take a leaf from the book of this author who initially started blogging to promote his novel:
I quickly learned that when I wrote about the book, I bored people to death, and when I wrote what someone else here called "mundane drivel" about my life, people wanted to read. The best blogs, in my opinion, are about the real lives of real people, and as such are far more entertaining than a ghost-written autobiography of a minor soap star, and yet those seem to sell in the millions! In the publishing industry, the publishers get to choose what you get to read, but online you get to choose for yourself. What could be wrong with that? (From the BBC article, as before) Alan Sharp, Edinburgh, Midlothian
There are only so many books a publishing house can bring out; only so many columns a newspaper will publish, but through the means of Blogging, we can all find just the right kind of read. Something to relate to, something to make us think, something to offer us a new perspective, something to amuse us. And when you get bored, find something objectionable, or of poor quality, you can click away. And when you find something insufferably arrogant, you can leave a comment. Not all letters to the editor get printed, but in the blogosphere, the "article" can be just the start of a discussion.
In today's joint topic challenge, six bloggers attempt to explore the nature of arrogance in blogging. The original brief is here. The other participants are: “The Void Zero”, “The accidental taorist”, “Smoochdog”, “Momentary lapses of insanity”, “Life without Icka”. Please visit their blogs today for a different take on this subject.