Yesterday, NPR's Fresh Air attempted to introduce its listeners to blogging December 11, 2001 5:44 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, NPR's Fresh Air attempted to introduce its listeners to blogging, and the results weren't pretty (RealAudio file). Linguist and commentator Geoff Nunberg says "The only thing bloggers have in common is that they have a lot of time on their hands and an exhibitionist streak."
posted by BT to General Weblog-Related at 5:44 AM (13 comments total)

re: the quote

has he been confused by cam-hos? :)
posted by sawks at 5:55 AM on December 11, 2001

Phooey! On Nunberg's own website in his Leaves from a Language Commonplace Book, he quotes Raymond Williams' "Communications":

"My own view is that we have been wrong in taking communication as secondary. Many people seem to assume as a matter of course that there is, first, reality, and then, second, communication about it. We degrade art and learning by supposing that they are always second-hand activities: that there is life, and then afterwards there are accounts of it."
{e.g. weblogs}
posted by Carol Anne at 6:01 AM on December 11, 2001

Nice find, Carol Anne. My sense was that Nunberg got caught up in one of the aspects of blogging that presents itself most obviously to the casual visitor -- the online journal end of things. No mention of blogging as a method of circulating information/comment outside of commercial media, and he quickly dismisses the idea that there is a blogging community. About which he may be right, but what he misses is the existence of multiple communities (and I was a bit surprised he didn't stumble on this one -- but there's my narcissism talking). His sole pleasure seems to have been gawking at the diary-excesses of the "what-I-had-for-lunch" sort of weblog.

Of course, he's just another guy paid to have an opinion. But I admit to having expected better. Esp. since Kevin Whitehead's jazz gift recommendations on the same program were so good. (Note: that last link is an RA file as well.)
posted by BT at 6:50 AM on December 11, 2001

Hey, BT, thanks for the thoughts! I was one of the turned-off-yet-fascinated by blogging for the what I had for lunch and just thought aspects but you reminded me why I like this place: the links. After that, the flame wars. After that, the group hugs. And the laughs, always. I suppose the last three could be subsumed into the witty and intelligent commentary, now that I think about it.

posted by y2karl at 10:06 AM on December 11, 2001

i don't have many good experiences with general commentators (e.g. bob greene). i suppose i mistrust people who make money having an opinion (usually many opinions), and i wonder if the subject is ever treated with the diligence it deserves -- it seems not to me in the case of nunberg.
posted by moz at 4:26 PM on December 11, 2001

I didn't listen to this (I refuse to install any Real product on my computer), but my opinion is that is it is better for people to speak their minds than to not speak at all. I thank God for the internet all the time. Otherwise, I'd be just another deranged crazoid shouting on the street corner.

If you don't like it, don't read it. No one is forcing you.
posted by zeb vance at 6:13 PM on December 11, 2001

It's weird the way commentators dismiss different trends on the web -- we don't expect a commentator discussing, say, "modern fiction" to single out the worst aspects of it, so why don't they surf past the chaff & find the best of weblogs and discuss them?
posted by palegirl at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2001

or worst examples, even.
posted by palegirl at 6:47 PM on December 11, 2001


If you don't like it, don't read it. No one is forcing you.

you're stating the obvious, zeb. i still feel that i've a right to my opinion.


that's what bugs me. it is as if nunberg and some others look at things -- in this case, trends on the web -- for about a day before passing their verdict. but, to be fair, picking a random weblog won't necessarily guarantee you'll find your way to bluishorange or rebecca's pocket.
posted by moz at 7:13 PM on December 11, 2001

Maybe the NPR pundits are jealous of the droves of conservatives embracing the 'blogging' form of writing. Professional talking-heads always had their 'professional jealousy.' Maybe Nunberg didn't see National Review's Jonah Goldberg trying out his hand at the "'blogger' format":
But while I've moved toward long essay-type doohickeys, it seems like the whole world is going in the other direction. Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, Virginia Postrel, Jim Romenesko, the Pope (no, no not the Pope), Mickey Kaus, and even our own Jay Nordlinger are just a few of the folks adopting what industry experts call the "blogger" format.
posted by tamim at 7:44 PM on December 11, 2001

oh no! the nebulous and vaguely nefarious industry experts!
posted by moz at 7:55 PM on December 11, 2001

y2karl : Don't forget the oral sex.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:23 AM on December 12, 2001

Oracle sex?
posted by y2karl at 12:02 AM on December 13, 2001

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