Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Blogging and NLT

I had a number of conversations this past weekend at the APSA about blogging (and web-based publishing altogether). Among my interlocutors were NLT’s own Steve Hayward and Lucas Morel (who is currently very busy on an old-fashioned book for the University Press of Kentucky, if I’m not mistaken), Claremont’s Ken Masugi, ISI’s Jeremy Beer and Mark Henrie (who needs a new picture for his webpage; he’s much more handsome than that!), and Charmaine and Jack Yoest. We all agreed that blog and electronic readership is more active and engaged (that is, more likely to give evidence of reading and then to respond), which is quite gratifying for us authors. Of course, since you, dear readers, have been around the block a few times, this isn’t news. What I can’t understand is why anyone with a website promoting ideas doesn’t have a blog to engage readers and encourage them to read and think about the more extensive and discursive content elsewhere on the site.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Because a lot of people don’t enjoy having their ideas challenged or having to admit that there are some good arguments on the other side of an issue . . . *sigh*

To quote one of the residents of ’Camp Casey’, "We don’t want to debate with people who don’t understand our point of view."

If someone’s idea of promoting an idea is nothing more that distributing propaganda then that person is probably not all that interested in anything anybody might have to say about it. If such is the case then I can completely understand if such a person did not want a blog of some sort.

For example, Perry at Eidelblog writes about a chance meeting with some Larouche supporters. To put it mildly, they were not interested in a discussion.

Did anyone at this panel address the big question: Does the right-wing blogosphere bring us more VOTES?
Or is it just another way to talk
to each other, i.e., a toy?

I’m reporting on informal conversations, not on any panels. Any inquiry into the question you’re asking would have to begin with a careful analysis of how much coverage in the news media affects voting behavior. Certainly every campaign I’ve ever heard of acts as if positive news coverage is good and negative coverage is bad. Then factor in the ways in which blogs break the MSM monopoly, not only by covering and analyzing events on their own, but also by prompting a response from the MSM.

I don’t think swing voters read political blogs. They depend on the dinosaur media. If this is correct, then any political effect of the blogs is dependent on the dinosaur media, and they are as bad as ever and won’t change. Maybe a couple of times a year, blogging will force the still-dominant dinosaurs to pay more, or less, attention to a story. But we can’t count on that.

Another possibility is that blogs, by making conservatives more informed and motivated, will make them more active, and effectively active, in politics. But it seems to me that most conservatives really don’t want to be seriously involved in politics, and it may be that blogging is simply unable to change this. It is far too easy to treat it simply as another object of consumption.

If conservative weakness in politics is not primarily the result of technology -- and it isn’t -- then it is hard to see how technology can play a major role in saving us.

Minor practical point to add: it obviously takes a lot of time and energy to run an `interactive’ website. Thinking about that cost-benefit calculation, it’s hard to blame people who don’t want to spend a lot of time arm wrestling on the Internet, but do want to get their ideas out.

If the problem lies in fielding comments, don’t permit comments. What attracts people to blogs is as much the currency of the comment as the ability to throw in one’s own two cents.

Actually, let me revise that. The most popular blogs on the "right" side of the blogosphere don’t rely on the comment function for their popularity. The most popular "left" blog depends upon it. Is this a difference between "left" and "right" blog participation and readership? If so, then permitting comments may not be crucial to the success of a blog, at least on the "right."

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