Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Blogging as talking

This is a small point in reference to Joe’s "Bad Blogs" just below. While the WSJ comment is perfectly sensible, it ignores a couple of points regarding blogs (never mind the fact that without blogs Dan Rather would still have a job, and Bush may not have been re-elected in 04). The only one I want to mention is this: The real reason for having a blog is to find out what your friends and trusted colleagues are reading and thinking about and then to speak plainly, or right on. And much of that has nothing to do with what is called "news." I have found a point, a thought, an intellectual disposition, to be very helpful in to me in thinking something through (and not only as an "instant response" or a "coagulant for orthodoxies"), or amusing me, or simply sharing a good piece of writing, even if it is only a good sentence or a phrase. A blog is a form of conversation, and at its best is a kind of dialogue. But this seems odd to people who keep their eye only on something called "instantaneity" vs "rigor" (never mind the crap about "mob behavior"). Let me repeat myself (just like in a conversation): A good blog is like a conversation. Of course, it kind of looks like writing, but in this case (hence its appeal to me?) the writing means to encourage talk (even not only in writing, but as orality) and therefore that kind of thinking; that is, thinking that is not simply full of "rigor" (no one ever talked in the form of a methodical exposition of a subject, as in a treatise) but is also witty and amusing and poetic and allusive and sometimes says more in a story than does a "rigorous" phrase or a march of logic that could only be followed in print, but not in conversation. The stuff about the news and instantaneity is just sharing some information of mutual interest, but mostly is just an excuse for a conversation. You know, like calling your friend on the phone with a specific point ("calling because I just finished grading my finals and wanted to talk to a human being") and then for an hour you bethump him with words (and he you) from and about Shakespeare, the manliness of Rummy, the passing beauty of a student, a musical note, what is currently worth reading, what isn’t, and why the world is golden. And a blog--like a conversation in a tavern--is with more than one person, as the world as pageant moves on right next to you. You note it as you keep talking with your friends.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Well said, er, blogged.

A friend keeps asking me why I blog since it’s not really a job and we certainly don’t get paid to do it. But that is precisely why one should blog. It is not a job. It is pleasure. It is mental candy. And it doesn’t spoil, and indeed sometimes leads one to the meat and vegetables. It keeps one’s mind moving and engaged. It is a great exercise for a writer. And beyond that, it gives me something to think about that is not necessary as I go about my otherwise necessary chores. As an instrument to preserve friendships . . . it is better than talking on the phone (unless you are amazingly articulate or have unlimited minutes on your cell phone plan). And it makes the phone conversations one does have much more engaging because it gives one a point of departure beyond the ordinary.

Blogging has been around, in force, for about five years. It’s now starting to be an effective form of media.

Formed in the amorphous DARPA internet (how many years ago?), it is starting to become a "conversation."

Gutenberg changed the conversation. Perhaps blogging will also.

I’ve been thinking about this blog bother while making this year’s Christmas puddings, which, if you have never done that, I’ll tell you, takes next to forever. To Peter Schramm’s blog I say, exactly. Well, not exactly, as I do not get to have such topical conversations all that often where I live. So, I find them here in blogland and am very grateful.

I read NLT for a while before finding commenting irresistible. In reading the blog, I was engaged by the ideas that were presented and argued. I have a very few acquaintances on here, met at the Ashbrook Center in the summer program, but no friends here, as Julie and Peter put it as in “preserving friendships” or “friends and trusted colleagues.” It took me quite a time to see that I have a lot of nerve being here at all. By the time I “got it” I found I could not look away. Waking of a morning, I might read something in the news and suddenly be wondering “I wonder what the boys on the blog have to say about it.” I had to come back and look. Sometimes there was something and sometimes not and I wished I could push a topic. But whatever I found here, commenting became, again, irresistible. It’s blog-fever. I can’t help myself.


What I find about me in local conversation is repetitious of what is heard on TV news or on talk radio. Sometimes there is logic to it, but often it is just accepted wisdom, and unwise. It is just what that article complains about in terms of blogging. This is just how people converse and decide what might be truth. Such things come up here from time to time, but not all that often. That is why it is satisfying to come here and read and argue. I find quibbles, quarrels, turns of phrase or debate that I do not find where I read elsewhere, or in local conversation.


What conversations I have had here this year! I’ve talked about Iraq and manliness, clothing, morality and motherhood, even the nature of the mind. I’ve had such fun. Even “the rehearsing of arguments” is merely practice to make perfect. To hone an argument against friendly opponents is to make the argument better and to pare away the incorrect and excess. How is that a bad thing?


Of course, these are the defenses of the blogophile. We are writing as amateurs, for the love of the thing, on a blog. So, this is nothing to experts. If talking were left only to experts, those paid to talk, would the world be mostly silent? No. Thank God talk is cheap.

Well I suppose this is a post where I agree completly with both the posts and the comments. Very well put Dr. Schramm. Keep posting Kate. Beyond that I think that a blog like this is a better value than a degree in political science... Immagine what you could learn in 4 years if you kept up with the reading list!

Thank you, John. I hope your Christmas was merry and that your new year will be happy!

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