When Is A Blog Not A Blog?

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with blogging – or is it writing? Whatever, when I get into it I love it. It inspires and stimulates me, sets off new trains of thought…but if I absent myself more than a few days, those trains rattle on their way without me, disappearing into gloomy tunnels of lost opportunity, leaving me sitting idly at some station of inertia. I know these barren platforms too too well.

My inactivity begins to gnaw at me like some inner rat, but perversely I routinely choose to tolerate the discomfort – it’s almost as if the act of writing is some authority figure I engage in a contest of wills. I’m James Dean, writing’s my father. And he wants to keep me home while I wanna go out. So I grab me coat and slam the door and kick in me grandma’s portrait on the way out. Then when I’m “out” I realise I’m restless with inactivity. So back home I go and the old man looks smug so I go out again just to spite him…

And so it goes until I get sick of this isometric battle against myself and confront the vague terror of the blank page – er, monitor. Then wonder within moments of the first rhythmic tapping of the keys why I ever stayed away.

But to cut through the indulgence of this self-reflection…

Battles with the writing demons aside, blogging as a concept is thrilling. No longer confined to plain text – which seems drab in these days of digital pics and Photoshop, podcasts and vlogs – the dowdy diary has been transformed into a stunning sex bomb.

Once the province of introverted schoolgirls and geriatrics desperate to leave some trace of their existence before the Great Inevitable, diarising is now a massive global addiction.

Many of the millions of blogs that make up the blogosphere are little more than documentations of everyday personal trivia – o still my beating heart.

BUT, in its more potent modes blogging can and does seriously undermine the monstrous power of the mass media.

In fact, considering the massive influence of the media on people and governments the world over, blogging may just be the most subversive force in human history. Power to the people in a bloodless revolution that has evolved out of nowhere, virtually overnight? Now that’s thrilling!

Or is it? Many of the most popular blogs are about blogging and how to increase readership, with the underlying motive of building enough traffic to monetise your blog and make some bucks. “How to” informational blogs attract a lot of readers. And food blogs, according to a report I came across recently, are the most numerous. Fine, but this ain’t the stuff of revolution.

A Baghdad citizen’s blog in the early days of the Iraq war, however, was. While CNN and Aljazeera justly accused each other of reporting bias, writing under the pseudonym Salam Pax, this individual gave the world a personal perspective from the eye of the cyclone. We knew, for the first time, that these reports were free of political interference. Had the Iraqi government been able to track him down they would have snuffed him out in an instant. But he was beyond their reach, beyond the reach of the US, beyond the reach of the media corporations. The arrival of the Cit J blogger had been announced with stunning drama.

War correspondence would never be the same again. Salam Pax heralded a series of war blogs, an excellent summary of which can be found at the following link: http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/feb05/piper_ramos.shtml

Sadly, when Aussies want to vent their political gripes or express themselves on other topical issues of the day, the “news blogs” they flock to are generally those on mainstream newspaper sites, written by professional journos working for the media giants. Fuck me! These aren’t really blogs at all – they are pseudo-blogs. Set the sheep free and they head straight back into the pen!

Why do I dismiss the major news corporation blogs as pseudo? Well, first you gotta consider what makes a blog a blog.

Blogging is a Web 2.0 phenomenon. That is, it arose out of an open-source culture. ‘Free’ and ‘community’ are two obvious paradigms of ‘open-source’. The community creates open-source software, for example, for its own benefit, drawing on expertise within its ranks to iron out bugs and contribute to the on-going evolvement of the product. No one is paid. The product created by the community is its own reward, and the relationship between product and community is thus perfectly symbiotic.

The pseudo-blogs featured by the corporate news sites are not open-source, literally or in spirit. The software is owned, jealously guarded and controlled by the media group.

Further, the pro journos who post their blogs rarely interact with the public who respond. Just as they output “news” via the media outlets that pay them, these journos toss their blog posts to the public like chips to seagulls, then sit back and watch the squabbling.

That is not true interactivity – and if blogging is about anything, it is about interactivity, surely! The blogger who posts without expectation of or desire for readership response is, to put it bluntly, a wanker. Those who ignore comment by readers are also wankers. Anyone tuned into the blogosphere understands that.

Worst of all, the corporate news blogs are notoriously prim and proper, and overseen by merciless censors. These hidden despots tolerate a degree of rough and tumble between dissenting respondees, but sternly apply the big stick with the righteous conviction of a classroom nun if anyone crosses the line.

Which line? Oh, the one they draw in the sand of their own political correctness. No questions asked, no correspondence entered into; if you cross their fucking line, they censor you out of existence.

They will not tolerate linking by readers. Mention even the title of your own or another blog when posting a comment on a corporate media blog and it will be deleted by Mr Newspaper Blog Censor. Often they won’t even publish the rest of the comment, either. It’s as if they’re punishing you for the crime of possibly taking readers away from their bloody blog site by alerting them to the existence of another blog. Citizen bloggers, of course, link all the time and wouldn’t dream of denying their readers the same right. Linking is an intrinsic element of the interactivity that characterises a genuine blog – yet these bozos from the mainstream media blog sites see it as a threat to be stamped out with jackboots.

There’s one journo jerk on The West Australian’s blog site who refuses to publish my posts at all, whatever their content. I can only assume this bozo has his frillies in a knot over some of my past posts. No longer satisfied with cutting them to buggery (my posts, not his frillies), he now apparently considers me BAD. Unworthy of inclusion in ‘his’ blog community. To which I respond with a smiling “fuck you.”

Lest it be construed that I have it in for the The West Australian out of some pathetic sense of dented pride, I must add that on numerous occasions my posts have been censored in part or not accepted by other corporate news blog sites, also. I’m not talking one-offs.

And these are not posts studded with “fucks” and “cunts” and other celebrations of Chaucerian earthiness. These turkeys censor anyone who expresses opinions that conflict too strongly with theirs, or who take them to task for rhetorical dishonesty, or exercise unacceptable sarcasm or satire in responding to other posters. What does “unacceptable” mean? As with “crossing the line” two paras above, ask the journo controlling the blog! They’re the ones playing God.

Some have suggested that I do nothing for The Boomtown Rap’s public appeal by peppering my posts with profanities from time to time. They might be right, but there’s a reason to my bawdy rhyme – actually, a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I’ve always sworn. I was drawn to the illicit power of the swear word as a kid. I used to walk around the block swearing to myself every step of the way. Is this weird? I don’t know, but it’s what I’d do. As I “matured” – and believe me, those inverted commas need to stay – I discovered the pleasure of outrage. Never have gotten over the thrill of the fart in church, so to speak.

Not that I’ve gone to church for a goddamned long time now. And not that swearing retains the potency it once had. But I am as I am, and it’s a matter of personal integrity that I write my blog my way. I will censor myself as I see fit. I will not censor the Comments of readers who respond to my posts (see the September movie review Comment string).

Secondly, I write as I do to distance myself from pro journos and their pseudo-blogs. I will not abide by the rules that constrain them. I’m a Cit J blogger and I fly my flag proud.

They’re “them” and they’re the enemy. Don’t play their game.

All heil the revolution.

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