Whither the blogosphere?

Friday, December 23, 2005
A post on a prominent left-wing blog (HT: PJ Media) posits that the left-side of the blogosphere is growing faster than the right because it has a more permissive attitude towards allowing comments, and because it encourages development of "community
blogs." See here: Aristocratic Right Wing Blogosphere Stagnating

In other words, the theory goes, the right-side of the blogosphere is doomed by its oh-so predictable tendency towards an elitist, exclusive, top-down view of, and approach to, the world.

Given the distrust (noted here previously) that many prominent right-of-center bloggers (such as Hewitt, Reynolds, Malkin and the Powerline guys) have towards enabling comments; and given those bloggers’ obvious preference for a less-open forum, is there some truth to MyDD’s hypothesis? Or does the causality perhaps run in the other direction, such that consumers of right-of-center blogs prefer at least some of the blogs they read to be free of the acrimony associated with blogs, like this one, that are truly open? And just how open are left-of-center blogs anyway, given their reputation for quickly banning dissenting commenters?

Is the left-of-center blogosphere really growing faster? Do ‘lefties’ just have more time on their hands (in between WTO summits) to visit blogs and engage in comment threads? Is a right-of-center community blog such as Flares a contradiction-in-terms and doomed to failure? Or is it destined instead to conquer all and save the blogosphere (and the world) from the DU’s great leap forward?

43 comments:

chuck said...

Might have something to do with the fact that many techies are also lefties. That is my impression of techies, anyway. They often seem to think they have unusual intelligence and insight while at the same time failing to understand normal office politics. Then again, they might be simply be young folk following the herd; the high tech centers in this country are located near Austin, San Francisco, and Boston.

RogerA said...

WOW--breathtaking: has anyone with libertarian, republican, or otherwise right leaning tendencies tried to post on DU or Kos? I mean these idiots use stalinst tactics to make sure that a someone trying to engage in dialoge can't even get a hearing: there are alerts to the moderators (DU; prescribed lists of sources that can be used (DU); and rating of commentary on Kos--I mean, sports fans, this is pure stalinism.

As a participant on mostly conservative blogs I have not seen similar screening practices--yes, lefties post their stuff; yes, its usually a troll bashing fest, but to my knowledge, rightie blogs do NOT bar people from posting.

Now: are leftie blogs more monolithic? attract greater numbers? have more ad space? Ans: quite probably; but that says nothing about the quality of the blog or anything else--in fact, it suggest lefties think in lock step--no diversion from the talking points are permitted--

I remain a classical liberal in the John Stuart Mill approach: allow free, unimpeded speech--nothing bad can come from that

and as an aside: the leftie blogs, along with the democratic party are progressing in an ever decreasing concentric circle when they will finally dissapear up their butts.

Just saying' Git 'er done!

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Julian,

Excellent questions. I don't know any of the answers, but I can say that empirically, Mark Garrity has immensely more time than I do to comment. I can't reply or rebut 'cause I'm busy at work most of the time.

chuck,

A friend of mine put it succinctly: "It's necessary for engineers to be arrogant. Otherwise they won't be able to solve problems no one else has ever solved." The same is true of mathematicians and physicists. ;-)

Also, if you believe as I do that technical intelligence (which is measured on IQ tests) and social intelligence are two entirely orthogonal axes, then it should not be in the least surprising that there are plenty of very smart nerds who are completely incapable of understanding office politics.

RogerA said...

Charlie--at some point we should get into a discussion of factor analysis--it is scary when I understand some of what you say!

Knucklehead said...

Where to start?

Reading the opening paragraph leaves me inclined to dismiss MyDD.

"[MyDD] argued the anti-community nature of right-wing blogs was allowing them relatively greater message discipline than left wing blogs and a superior ability to influence the content of the national media."

Perhaps I should read his original case but I personally see no evidence of any enormous influence of "right-wing" blogs upon the national media. As far as I can tell, with perhaps one or two notable exceptions, the "national media" has not been the least influenced by the "right-wing" blogs attempts to fact-check them and counter them. If anything it seems to me that the bulk of the "national media" has redobled their efforts to influence the national audience according to their biases. I suppose this redoubling of effort may be the result, or partially so, of "influence" by "right-wing" blogs, but the media's own studies suggest otherwise. They seem to nearly universally attribute whatever problems they have to not being "tough enough" on the "Bush administration". As far as I can tell they fully subscribe to the BDS notion that "all problems, now matter what they are or who suffers them, are the fault of George W. Bush."

He then goes on to counter his own initial analysis with:

"... I wrote a follow-up piece entitled Partisan Democratic Blogs Growing Far More Influential Than "Independent" Right-Wing Blogs, where I argued that progressive blogs, due to their affiliation with the Democratic Party, were growing influential in ways that the largely media focused right-wing blogosphere was not."

What is he saying other than that the so-called "right-wing" portion of the blogosphere seems to see itself as a form of media or communication and the so-called "left-wing" portion sees itself as "communities" for political action and, in particular, political action within the framework of the Democratic Party. There is probably some element of accuracy to that, but surely it isn't universal.

What on earth is so all-fired "anti-community" about the "right-wing" blogosphere? It doesn't suffer fools like Markg8 well? Communities do, or should, care about their overall wellbeing. Idiots are detrimental to the well-being of the community all things considered. What is so all-fired community oriented about the "left-wing" blogosphere? I don't spend much time over there but they seem to swarm to the attack against "alien ideas" far more viciously than the "right-wing".

Which is all to say that, in all honesty, the guy turned me off immediately. He's barking at something but it seems little more than noise to me.

But let's forge ahead. First off I'm not sure how we arrive at any definition of what is "right wing" and what is "left wing" among blogs. Interestingly MyDD seems to equate those with clear ties or leanings toward the Democrat Party as "left" or "lib" and everything else as "right" or "con". So, if you aren't a Democrat you are "right-wing" and all flavors of "right-wing" are lumped together as "Aristocratic".

What qualifies blogs as "Aristocratic"? Is it merely not having a comments section? It seems reasonable to presume there is a range of reasons why blog owners choose not to have open comments. Perhaps among those reasons is some sort of "Aristocratic" nature, but I suspect it would be far down the list of reasons. Would MyDD lable all forms of broadcast communication as "Aristocratic" simply because they don't have open comments? Given the selectivity of newspapers in their "letters" section, wouldn't they all qualify, at the very least, as nearly-aristocratic?

Oh well, maybe I'm not forging ahead all that much. It seems to me that MyDD is blathering a whole lot about nothing particularly supportable.

Perhaps a higher percentage of left-wing blogs have comments sections. So what? What does that tell anyone? I don't frequent left-wing blogs primarily because I've found so little of value in them when I have visited - particularly in their comments sections. Sometimes the blogger makes some vaguely reasoned case but the comments sections, in the rare cases I've looked through them, are a whole lot of screeching without much being said.

Buddy Larsen said...

O/T but knowing MarkG8 will read this: here's for your college blog, which was filled with dudgeon over this the other day when you were being pickled by Peter.

Seneca the Younger said...

Hmmm.

Knucklehead said...

Whither anything anymore?

I just popped in to make one of my several daily stops at Instapundit (a right-wing, aristocratic blog that doesn't allow comments) to see if he was pointing to anything that might interest me.

He had a pointer to what is surely a hoax about some Dartmouth student claiming he was visited by Homeland Security because he'd requested Mao's Little Red Book from a UMass library.

What a crock. A visit to my local B&N shows no less than three editions of the Little Red Book available for purchase to anyone. I haven't looked in a library for it but I would be surprised if it wasn't readily available. The same is true for Mein Kampf.

These idiots are so desperate for somebody to care what they read that they'll make up stories and so out of touch with what the world around them is really like that they don't have a clue how absurd the stories they make up are.

Doug said...

"What is he saying other than that the so-called "right-wing" portion of the blogosphere seems to see itself as a form of media or communication and the so-called "left-wing" portion sees itself as
"communities" for political action and, in particular, political action within the framework of the Democratic Party.

There is probably some element of accuracy to that, but surely it isn't universal.
"
---
Knucklehead,
Faster, Please!
The Democrat party is following these hotheaded morons into oblivion, funded by Soros.

This morning Limbaugh mentioned that Harry Reid MEETS WITH some of the blogmorons on a WEEKLY BASIS!

Delusional Dems following the blind.

RogerA said...

I am not sure what the criteria are for commanding a segment of the "blogosphere." Glenn Reynolds, it seems to me, is a facilitator--he simply posts articles that appeal to his libertarian tendencies--with the exception of a few side comments like "heh" or whatever, my thought has always been you are free to read them or not.

With respect to the leftie blogs--DU is perhaps the most egregious of blogs requiring a stalinist mind set before one could even post, and if you do post, there are hundreds of intellectually challenged bots willing to report you to the moderators--I mean, George Orwell could not have designed an improved system.

And there is Kos--your posts are rated and appear along side of your post.

now, on the rightie side of the blogosphere, I dont think I am aware of ANY rightie blogs that exclude leftie posters--as a result, we listen to Mark Garrity and other folks who have a left wing perspective--

So what is the bottom line? seems to me, in a very ironic sense,it is the left wing blogs that come off as elitist and monolithic--and thats fine with me--they may even attract more advertising money, but again, that isnt an important factor.

The bottom line is to me: do blogs or the blogosphere influence current events? if so, is there a way to measure that? Seems to me the answer is, at this point, in the affirmative vis a vis the trent lot comments at strom thurmonds birthday, the dan rather/mary mapes phoney fest, and any other examples of main stream overreaching--

Julian Biggs said...

roger - i share your interest in whether and to what extent the blogs influence our world - hence my interest in the MyDD post.

as for the link that makes seneca go "hmmm", that seems to just make the thick plotten. is it all a big perception problem? more cognitive dissonance (if i understand that term correctly)?
iow, just as some on the left have trouble comprehending the dynamic nature of economics, are they here struggling with the fact that while Reynolds doesn't 'interact' directly - via comments - he certainly does interact with the blogosphere at large. His popularity, it seems to me, depends upon the perception that he is plugged in to the hot button issues of the moment. Hewitt wants the dialogue, I think, but would prefer it to take place blog-to-blog.

Peter UK said...

The left is simply more organised than the right,they are after all collectivists and paranoid conspirators to their bootstraps.

Many though, are adolescents with time on their hands,not a few are nobodies to whom political activism gives definition to their lives.

There is a hard core of activists who target,what they believe to be,Right wing sites,spreading the word to the unbelievers.

To others it is the equivalent of writing "bum" on their bedroom wall,half witted contrarians.

Specter said...

Well...how to respond to this? I know. I hear that the visits to UFO sites is on the rise too. Do you think there is a correlation?

Syl said...

The left as a big community circle jerk has been pointed out already. They look inward, don't allow dissent, and want to be PACs. MyDD's notion that therefore the Right's blogs are more on message back-a**wards.

However, except for Glenn Reynolds, I get truly annoyed at certain right bloggers who don't allow comments. Powerline especially. It makes them seem arrogant, to me. Michelle would get a lot of hateful stuff in her comments, but she doesn't even trust the righty commenters that would join in and smash those nasties to bits. To me it's just chicken.

But a few bloggers not having commenters is neither here nor there. That's form over substance.

The right has a variety of views and approaches, the left has one.

The result of the left's stalinist insistence on purity is the total disappearance of sane liberals. Kaus can't be the only one (hey, he doesn't have comments either), can he?

Jamie Irons said...

I don't mind comments, but I hate it when anybody comments on one of my comments, especially if I have already commented on their comment on my comment.

I sometimes wish I had the power to expunge from the blogospheric memory anyone's efforts to comment on any of my comments, and could thus could forever maintain my comments in the kind of unassailable purity which they so obviously deserve. Or something.

That the left won't let me do this I find extremely irritating, and for that reason I refuse to comment on any of their sites.

Their loss.

Jamie Irons

Buddy Larsen said...

I'd be flabbergasted to find someone who could justify Liberalism without utterly de-proportionalizing the truth of reality. Forex, Bush's accent = Demos betrayal of minorities and wreckage of their family structures. And so forth and so on.

Jamie Irons said...

Peter:

[The left] are after all collectivists and paranoid conspirators to their bootstraps...

I didn't know the left had bootstraps.

I sure wish they'd pull themselves up by them for once, rather than spending all their energy pulling the rest of us down

;-)



Jamie Irons

Buddy Larsen said...

LOL Jamie...as Mark Twain said of Richard Wagner's music. "...it's probably better than it sounds."

Julian Biggs said...

Somewhat OT, but Daniel Henninger’s otherwise decent column in today’s WSJ takes this gratuitous swipe at the blogosphere: “The quick rise of new communications technologies like the Internet has made it possible to wage total political war 24/7. Both sides use the Internet daily to thwart, impede and kneecap the other side. There's no downtime anymore, no space to reassess one's position or arguments. Fight or die, every day. More than at any previous time, much of political life now consists of feeding propaganda into this combat machinery.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/dhenninger/?id=110007721

The outside world's perception of the blogosphere matters differently to the left and the right, imo, because we have different intentions for it. For now, at least, the outside world makes no distinction between the hemispheres.

Buddy Larsen said...

Slightly o/t, but in theinterests of 'balancing' the 'sphere, came across this @ Scrappleface Comments--nice lady, I think you'll like.

Someone also told of Grampa's corroded dentures--the dentist determined it was the Hollandaise that was doing it, so he made Grampaw some new ones out of chrome. They worked fine, proving that there's no plates like chrome for the Hollandaise.

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Doug said...

LOL
Now can we have CREAMED Corn?

Doug said...

Julian:
Seems like unions, and now, particularly the NEA, have been doing it long before blogs.
The MSM and Unions now have to deal with it not being a monopolistic situation.
(But I have no idea how we'll touch the NEA)

Doug said...

Jamie,
I like your new picture, but what happened to the website?

Doug said...

I hadn't read your comment about how you feel about comments about comments prior to posting that last comment.
Sorry.

Rick Ballard said...

MyDD may have a point with his "let a thousand idiots spout" thesis. If left unchallenged Mark would draw kindred spirits to babble incoherency to a seemingly agreeable audience. Which is precisely what DKos and DU are all about.

I will admit to not frequenting either site (nor do I nor will I visit MyDD for the same reason). A couple of visits is all that is required to understand the mediocrity of thought and what passes for analysis on most lefty sites. Even if I had the interest in refuting utopian vision I lack the Sisyphean attribute required to "dance with idiots".

I believe that the "right" (who are no such thing) blogs do not allow comments because they do not feel that they have the time or volition to do the initial policing of trolls necessary to develop a strong commenting community. Having watched lefty trolls swarm Roger's place a number of times I can understand their reticence. When the commenter "core" isn't prepared to rebuff an onslaught or when the trolls are particularly foul (as occured with Malkin) a comments section can collapse rather easily. Gresham's law goes into effect and what remains is simple name calling among the detritus.

Personally, I'm hoping that our new platform will allow for editing comments. Being able to edit the jerks who show up would provide a modicum of entertainment.

MyDD's prognosis of stagnation is as valid as a prediction of a Kerry victory.

truepeers said...

Well, anyone who still believes that the left is not elitist has obviously ignored the history of the last century and is still buying the propaganda which is always, we are not elitist, we are doing everything to deny our own self interest, so that we can be sure we're in the right, and because we're not elitists, and not as self-righteous as those arrogant bastards on the right, you should acknowledge our righteousness and give us the attention, grants, public sector jobs we deserve, damnit.

How did the communists treat the workers? How do most feminists treat their fellow women, especially those with whom they compete in feminist organizations? How do certain leaders of ethnic or racial political movements treat those they purport to represent? Do they do all they can to set them free, or insure that they are brother victims who must recognize their historical victimhood?

Seems to me that this is the same old story. Some leftists grow out of it; some don't.

Buddy Larsen said...

We have just GOT to have a reincanated Democratic party--just plain GOT to. This thing now is no party--it's an un-party. I blame the leaders.

Knucklehead said...

What TP said!

neuroconservative said...

Michael Barone has noted that the focus of the right blogosphere is influence (or counter-balancing) the MSM, while the focus of the left sphere is on the Democratic Party:

"The left blogosphere has moved the Democrats off to the left, and the right blogosphere has undermined the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media. Both changes help Bush and the Republicans."

As a (very) broad generalization, I think the right sphere is more interested in memetic warfare (the air campaign), while the left sphere is more focused on the ground game (because the MSM handles their air campaign).

While Henninger's comment was intended as a swipe, I think it is accurate that the right's "rapid response" has helped prevent some especially pernicious memes from gaining traction (most notably in the Rathergate episode, but seemingly quite effective in the last week's NSA kerfuffle).

I don't think that the ground game is as important at this time, and I don't see that Kos has been anything but a miserable failure in getting his candidates elected.

What I would like to see from the right sphere is a greater focus on offense (generating stories), rather than defense (ie response to MSM falsehoods). The best example is the SwiftVets. I am hard-pressed to think of many other such successes for our side.

Most importantly though, I like the stimulation of thought and cross-current of ideas, which can be engaged in a single comments thread or across multiple non-commenting blogs. Why anyone would want to be part of a Stalinist herd escapes me, but I guess it beats working for a living.

chuck said...

...we are not elitist, we are doing everything to deny our own self interest,...

Too bad Christianity is in bad odor, because I think what a lot of these guys really want is a monastery. They could take a vow of poverty, live in a world without all the modern distractions, concern themselves with higher things, labor in the fields, and live on the product of their own sweat. Instead they are stuck with the thankless task of convincing everyone to live like that. It's a tough sell and always seems to require extreme forms of reeducation.

truepeers said...

The left have certain Christian leanings and some no doubt would like the monastery. But they are elitists because they indulge in the Gnostic heresy - in a belief that the creation has gone all bad and that only loyalty to a concerted intellectualism can make it right - that is the shadow of orthodox Christianity. The elitism comes from an over-investment in decontextualized ideas and symbols, in an idealization of what ought to be, and a forgetting of what is.

terrye said...

It seems to me the difference between the right and left in the blogs is like the difference between the Wall Street Journal and the National Enquirer. The Enquirer sells a lot of copy but they are what they are and so is Kos and DU.

Buddy Larsen said...

"The elitism comes from an over-investment in decontextualized ideas and symbols, in an idealization of what ought to be, and a forgetting of what is."

By Golly, 'Peers, that's a HAYMAKER!

Buddy Larsen said...

Terrye's right--it's almost--almost--an apples & oranges proposition. Like comparing entertainment and insurance.

Julian Biggs said...

great point terrye - but, then, all the more reason to resist the MSM's efforts to tar all with the same brush, no?

Peter UK said...

Truepeers,
This has long been a problem,
""The virtue of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was of a severer and more laborious kind. It was the well-earned harvest of many a learned conference, of many a patient lecture, and many a midnight lucubration. At the age of twelve years, he embraced the rigid system of the Stoics, which taught him to submit his body to his mind, his passions to his reason; to consider virtue as the only good, vice as the only evil, all things external as things indifferent." Chapter 3


From Buddy's Gibbon link in the thread above ( No not the primate)

Doug said...

Buddy, 8:35 AM
Down out my level,
it is expressed as:
Their Minds are so Open
Their Brains have fallen out.

Jamie Irons said...

Doug,

My site is down while I'm redesigning it.

Thanks for your interest!

;-)

Jamie Irons

Julian Biggs said...

Neuro – barone’s take (as usual) seems right on the money. Many of those hawkish on the GWOT want the right blogosphere to continue to “undermine the credibility of the Republicans' adversaries in Old Media.” And I’m especially interested in how the structure of the right blogosphere affects the amplitude of that effect.
It seems to me, for example, that allowing comments has at least two great benefits: (1) it provides a platform for many more individuals to add to the critique of MSM follies, and (2) it encourages readers to stay and then return again and again. However, there’s a catch: as comments (especially anonymous ones) also provide fodder for the MSM to counter-attack by perpetuating the widely-held view that the blogosphere is fundamentally un-serious. As I think I’ve noted before, although they wouldn’t admit it, un-seriousness is not really a problem for the left-blogosphere.

Peter UK said...

The standpoint of the MSM is the same as any other professional cartel or sectional interest,they are simply trying to keep out the competition.

Of all the so called professions, journalism is the one most at risk from the layman,in many cases the only difference between journalists and the rest it that the former had a monopoly on the means of production.

In true democratic fashion that is no longer true,even more frightening for the journalist is the fact that those with an intimate knowledge of any given subject can now put the information before the public,there is no need for the middleman.

The ignorant opinion editorial can not be justified by the fact that the writer has a degree from Journalist School,there are millions of degrees sitting out there at a computer keyboard,perhaps even those who remember the writer as a prat in college.

There will be more squealing from this closed shop,but it is best to remember that the cardinal sin of the blogosphere is that has noticed the MSM is wearing no clothes.

Buddy Larsen said...

"...multiple layers...." of no clothes! \;-D

(--Quoted snip from the 'pajamas quote', by Joe Klein of TimeWeek Muggerzine--)

Julian Biggs said...

One interesting aspect of this issue is raised over at the belmont Club, where wretchard argues that only the power of the argument itself - untainted by the brand image associated with the maker of the argument - can keep the discussion from becoming corrupt.
http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2005/12/kindness-of-strangers.html