As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in a kind of interesting and conflicted stage with my sabbatical lite/BAWS project: I’m doing a lot of reading, I’m doing some writing, but I’m also doing a fair amount of writing program coordinator work to get the semester started, and I’m also trying to/worried about painting my house. And of all these things, the painting of the house is the most time sensitive duty– or really, weather sensitive.
In any event, one book I’m reading while on the stationary bike at the gym is Geert Lovink’s Zero Comments, and while I am gleaning some interesting observations as I go, I have to admit that I am struck by some of what Lovnik is saying here that just strikes me as, um, wrong.
Here’s a particularly problematic paragraph with my comments in between:
The blogosphere has been shaped neither by dotcom entrepreneurs nor by techno-geeks. Really? The folks who brought us blogger, wordpress, and/or Moveable Type aren’t entrepreneurs or techno-geeks? Basic computer knowledge does the job. Um, you mean basic computer knowledge like PHP, MySQL, Python, managing server space, and the like? Not even html skills are required. Only if you want your blog/site to look, feel, and function as the work of someone who doesn’t understand the medium at all. For business types there is no immediate money in it. There are dozens of companies making real money off of blogs nowadays, and hundreds of wannabes out there. The open character of blogs even forms a risks who are into branding and PR. Unless you are into radical transparency or you use blogs to shape your message and PR. The geeks feel protected in their Slashdot community and prefer the cleanliness of ASCII in email versus the glossy personality-driven approach of blogs. Isn’t slashdot.com a blog? For most academics. blogs are irrelevant as they don’t count as publications. The same could be said of Internet activists who have not moved beyond the use of e-mail and their own content management system. Whaaaa???
I could go on even with this paragraph, but you get the idea. And again, I want to be clear that I don’t think that everything that Lovink is saying is wrong– this is just a particularly problematic paragraph. But I guess it makes me think of two things with my own project. First, the problem with making too many pronouncements about technology along the lines of what Lovink has done in this paragraph is that the pace of rapid change in online practices versus the glacial pace of print means that things that seemed dead-certain and obvious three years ago can look downright silly once the book hits the market. Second, there’s still a lot of room for debate about what exactly are these things we call blogs and blogging.