Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

More on “blog” evolution

One of the key factors in the evolution of the blog into something that can’t be easily stripped down to a primitive form is the parallel rise of group and institution-sponsored blogging. If blogs were originally records of what one person found interesting online, with maybe a bit of their own commentary, reader communities didn’t matter, and thus the ability to comment didn’t matter. Group blogs, such as Daily Kos, changed that by emphasizing community, discussion and organization, much of which hinged on the ability of readers to interact via comments (both with each other and with the bloggers). Similarly, institutional bloggers, such as those employed by major media outlets, have an incentive to use comment sections to build and retain site traffic.

Predictably, active comment sections have proven difficult to utilize to their maximum effectiveness. The more open comment sections are, the more likely they are to attract trolls and other malcontents, driving away potential community members who just don’t want to deal with it. Registration can help, as can techno-organizational factors like discussion-threading and comment-rating, but the risk of somebody pissing in the punch bowl will always be there. A couple days ago, Ezra Klein relayed some other bloggers’ hesitant feelings toward their commenters and would-be commenters, and suggested that he’s interested in moving toward the most highly controlled form of commenting, which is already employed by the likes of Talking Points Memo and Andrew Sullivan — e-mails to him that he would post if he felt like it.

I don’t think there’s anything majorly impactful or important about these specific developments, but I do think they’re worth noting as milemarkers on the road away from “the blog” and toward a broader theory of online publishing.

Filed: aka Syscrusher || 22:46, December 24 || No Comments »

Daily Kos and the evolution of the blog

The beta of the Daily Kos redesign (aka “DK4”) was opened to the public today. Given the site’s status among the highest-traffic political blogs, it’s worth taking a look at. To me, the striking thing is how much it retains a great deal of the traditional blog format, particularly at a time when the format is being blurred beyond recognition by The Huffington Post and largely abandoned by the Gawker network. I argued in a paper for AEJMC this year that the existence of the blog as a primitive format in 2010 is an illusion — even though Daily Kos runs on its own platform as opposed to a commercial one like WordPress, it’s clear they have a commitment to the producer-audience relationship fostered by blogs as opposed to the top-down paradigm of online magazines.

As an example, take this description of DK4’s “mojo” system. In the Daily Kos community, mojo is essentially a metric of trust, based on past activity — comment recommendations over time get you there in the current system, but the new system is substantially more robust. As Kos describes in the post, it provides three categories of activities that build as indicators of community trust, but they do so without providing a lot of quantitative data. I find this particularly interesting, because one of the things that’s always struck me as a little odd at Daily Kos was the chest-puffing about having a low UID — that is, being a long-time member of the site (full disclosure: my UID is 8475). The UID is still on display in the new site, but the mojo score aggregates and subtly obfuscates the specifics of one’s community behavior. It’s a way of both encouraging engagement and discouraging argument from seniority. This is part and parcel of Kos’s expressed vision for the site — fostering and filtering quality content from the community. Unlike so many other giants in the liberal blogosphere — HuffPo, Talking Points Memo, Think Progress — and in the blogosphere and big-time social media in general, the creation and nourishment of community makes Daily Kos stand out.

Filed: aka Syscrusher || 21:30, December 15 || No Comments »

Blogger, read thyself

Every once in a while you’ll read a bit of commentary about an opinion columnist or editorialist making some claim that flatly contradicts facts in reporting by that columnist’s own news organization (see, e.g., the disconnect between editorial and reporting in the Washington Post). There are all sorts of potential reasons for this happening, and it provides a lot of fodder for eager media critics in the blogosphere.

But I was really surprised to see this coming from a blogger, and particularly one who is generally quite insightful. Steve Benen, the blogger behind the Washington Monthly‘s Political Animal, has an op-ed in the New York Daily News today suggesting that Barack Obama could be successful in the upcoming legislative session by co-opting Republican ideas that he largely agrees with and supports. The two examples he gives are presenting John McCain’s 2008 cap and trade system and George W. Bush’s immigration reform plan as his own bipartisan proposals. How could Republicans suddenly oppose things they’d so recently supported? Put aside the fact that Republicans, en masse, were never fans of either of those proposals. Republicans just did this! The health care bill that almost every congressional Republican voted against was nearly identical to the Clinton-era Republican counter-proposal and the system signed into law in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney. In 2009, that market-driven, Republican-approved plan became a socialist plan to pull the plug on grandma.

The point of this, though, is not to make a counter-argument to Benen’s op-ed. It’s to point out that he spelled out why this can’t work just yesterday in a post called “When (and Why) Bipartisanship Is Impossible.” In it, he notes exactly the health care process that played out last year, and quotes Ezra Klein noting that Democratic moves toward (then through and past) the center are always met with Republican moves to the right. So it was very surprising to read this from Benen, and it’s hard not to wonder if the venue — a daily metro newspaper, as opposed to a blog hosted by a monthly opinion journal — influenced his argument and the conclusion he reached.

Filed: Watching the Detectives || 11:47, November 14 || No Comments »