Why We Blog (and Who We Are)

Technorati.com tracks 48.6 million sites and 2.7 billion links. Japanese are the biggest bloggers, but they tend to be kids posting personal trivia to friends. English is the most common political blog language. The average American political blogger is a well-educated, middle class white guy. Liberal bloggers outnumber conservatives, but conservatives get more comments.

Why do we do it? Few bloggers make money by writing and most never will. They don't care because they just like to talk. They talk in general, not only online. Bloggers are active in their communities and among their friends. They like the idea that they can spread their ideas and keep on talking even when nobody is paying attention anymore. It is a compulsion, maybe even pathology. Bloggers overestimate their own importance.

That is not to say that bloggers have not influenced key events. MSM did not cover the Trent Lott comments on Strom Thurman until the blogs pushed it. It is also probably true that w/o blogs John Kerry would be our president, since the Rathergate affair would have gone unchallenged. Nevertheless, the big payoff to a blog swarm comes when some parts of the MSM pick up the story. We (bloggers) also still depend on MSM for most of our facts and research.

Blogs may or may not be good for democracy. They provide a space for civil society, but they also provide space for terrorists or weirdoes to congregate. You can find counter terrorism, but terrorists have also become adept at using the internet. In China, blogs were instrumental is whipping up anti-Japanese riots and it probably easier for a populist, nationalist or provocateur to get a blog audience than it is for a reasonable guy.

Governments are nervous about blogs. India cracked down on blogs in the wake of the Mumbai bombing, both to stop terrorists from communicating and to hold down anti- Muslim backlash. The Chinese are very good at blocking access. The anomaly is Iran, which hardly blocks blogs at all. There is some doubt whether or not the ramshackle regime CAN do it. They tend to deal with bloggers the old fashioned way anyway.

Every candidate for office now has a blog. Whether or not he/she writes it is another question. You never really know who you are talking to on a blog, but - with the exception of someone like a plagiarizing politician -maybe you don't need to. Bloggers are what they write. Would it help to know their "secret identity" If you can explain something, you are doing a good job. If not, it doesn't matter what your resume says you can do. (It is like a guy at Gold's Gym saying he is strong because he spends a lot of time at the gym. Better to ask him pick up something heavy and find the truth.)

Some people think the day of the blog is already passed high noon and that Internet social networks (like My Space) or that audio or video (Flickr, YouTube and other photo and video-sharing Internet sites.) will soon supplant blogs. Maybe, but probably not. Blogs have a limited audience, but those who prefer short messages or video are gone already OR more likely blogs are a part of their total information mix. Most of us watch TV, listen to radio, read newspapers and magazines and still look at blogs. Who knows? Maybe a mix. Angela Merkel has her own video blog, can Bush be far behind? Maybe that is the future. (I hope not, since I am not good looking enough for a video blog. With the written word nobody knows if you are a dog.) But anyway, we are notoriously bad at predicting the future of these things.

Posted by Jack at July 21, 2006 8:25 PM
Comment #169609

The reason conservatives get more comments is because everyone including non-liberals want to see…

what lame excuse for a lame excuse the republicans have for the mess they created.

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 8:54 PM
Comment #169610

The reason conservatives get more comments is because everyone including non-liberals want to see…

if the republicans explain their hatred for peace and a safe America.

if the republicans still think the iraq invasion made America safer.

if republicans really resort to name-calling when they can’t use logic to debate the issues that are important to AMERICA.

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 8:57 PM
Comment #169611

Oh God if Bush had a video blog I don’t think I could look away from it, it would be too damn funny!

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 21, 2006 9:05 PM
Comment #169612

Blogging may or may not be important enough to write about…wow! Now THAT’s DEEP…

Posted by: Marysdude at July 21, 2006 9:09 PM
Comment #169614


I think you showed some of the quality of comments we get on conservative blogs. There is a lot of hatred. I have no pearls to cast. Please keep on posting just like you do.


It probably would be funny.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 9:10 PM
Comment #169615


I said that they may or may not be good for democracy. Some people assume that if people just communicate, everything will be okay. But sometimes the more the communicate, the less they like each other.

My own feeling is that blogs are a net plus from democracy, but it is not always a clear choice.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 9:13 PM
Comment #169617

go to conservative blog…

all you hear is…

what a great job bush is doing

how the Liberals and the Democrats are screwing up America

and if your not a republican sympathizer you must be a terrorist

Go to a Liberal blog…

and to put simply…

it’s all about the bottom line.

it’s all about debate.

I’m just waiting for the first republican drone to start calling me names because they don’t agree with me.

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 9:22 PM
Comment #169619

On liberal blogs…

Prominent Democrats are always getting hammered (i.e. Lieberman and Hillary)

On conservative blogs…

some republicans won’t even acknowledge Abramoff, Kenny Boy, Plame, Iraq, Delay, Cunningham, WMDs, hyper-inflation, the deficit, irrelevant election year wedge issues, etc., etc., ect.

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 9:29 PM
Comment #169620


We don’t need to ridicule you. I am always happy when I get comments such as yours. If the bottom line is about debate, maybe you should try.

You can now probably write your own response to your own comments using some sort of name like “true red conservative” and then you can follow with shock, SHOCK at such abuse. As I wrote, on a blog nobody knows you are a dog (or maybe two or more).

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 9:29 PM
Comment #169621


Why do you think that someone will be calling you names?

I do find your comments quite funny, the one about how the liberal blog comments are all about ‘the bottom line’ and the debate. No, tlc, liberal blog comments are all about how much Bush sucks and how he lied and how liberals must ‘get even’ with what happened to Clinton.

But really, the only one I see calling anyone names here is you. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 21, 2006 9:30 PM
Comment #169623

as soon as a conservative blog starts to lose the argument…

….name calling….

….accusations of being unpatriotic if not treasonist…

….distortions and unsupported arguments…

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 9:31 PM
Comment #169624

As I wrote, on a blog nobody knows you are a dog (or maybe two or more).

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 09:29 PM

looking for an example of name-calling?

i rest my case.

have great evening.

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 9:33 PM
Comment #169625


Do you actually read other people’s comments or you just writing a string of several comments in quick sucession without paying attention or caring if anyone agrees or disagrees with you?

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m jusr curious…

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 21, 2006 9:33 PM
Comment #169626

Okay tlc

I give up. You can continue to play by yourself. I bet you have a lot of experience with that. Maybe someone will call you a name later on. Or you can call yourself a name under a different signature.

We do have some liberals who make useful comments on this blog. I expect they will be by shortly.

Posted by: Jack at July 21, 2006 9:34 PM
Comment #169627


I’m not sure how anyone could conscrew that Jack called you a dog from his comment. I think you’re going to have to stick around and keep making insipid comments for a while longer in order for someone to start calling you names.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 21, 2006 9:37 PM
Comment #169628

Okay tlc

I give up. You can continue to play by yourself. I bet you have a lot of experience with that. Maybe someone will call you a name later on. Or you can call yourself a name under a different signature.

another ad hominem…

i rest my case again.

Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 9:38 PM
Comment #169629



Posted by: tlc at July 21, 2006 9:40 PM
Comment #169630
An ad hominem fallacy consists of asserting that someone’s argument is wrong and/or he is wrong to argue at all purely because of something discreditable/not-authoritative about the person or those persons cited by him rather than addressing the soundness of the argument itself.

Sorry, tlc, Jack did not make an ad hominem attack on you. You made no ‘arguments’ the he was trying to counter, you just started out of the box attacking a group of people you hate. I suppose if you had provided some sort of evidence to back up your claim it could have been an argument…

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 21, 2006 9:43 PM
Comment #169631

I don’t think anyone asserted you were?

I guess I’ll just wait now for you to make an actual point to counter, this attempt to try to ‘pull out’ your point for you is making my head hurt and really taking over the article in a way that violates the spirit of the blog (one that is not only democratic and republican but also other political thoughts as well).

I do hope to see an actual point soon though! It sure makes debate much more interesting when they exist.

Posted by: Rhinehold at July 21, 2006 9:46 PM
Comment #169638


Since you rested you case twice, rest in peace.

Posted by: tomh at July 21, 2006 10:26 PM
Comment #169642


I thought your old singing group was pretty good.

Posted by: JR at July 21, 2006 10:41 PM
Comment #169655

Oh, I beg to differ. Blogs will stand the test of time, but they will morph a little or a lot.

Blogs are a limited form of warfare.

What blogs do is illuminate the rhetoric of the fools as well as that of the intellectuals. But the readers can make up their own minds about who’s talking sense or nonsense. This is the rare quality with blogs.

Blogs are proof that people need a better outlet for information. Most folks don’t trust the old sources. We cannot blame them. Just look at the New York Times who’s betrayed our trust.

Because the literates will always verbally out do the illiterates, the morph will gravitate toward the intelligent being listened to rather than the empty prose of the idiots being listened to. In other words, the left will lose and the right will win the blog war.

How’s that for a quick conclusion?

There’s more to this argument, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. Some blogger might “borrow” my thoughts.

Posted by: Lance at July 21, 2006 11:32 PM
Comment #169659

I think blogs may be here to stay… however, the only blogs left to stay will be the BIG ones - such as WatchBlog.

Posted by: Mike Tate at July 22, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #169660

Long live Watchblog. The only blog I’ve been on where all sides can have at it with each other and not be barred.
Conservative blogs and Liberal blogs will both bar anyone that disagrees with them. What gets you barred from here it showing total disrespect for fellow bloggers. Not your opinions.

Posted by: Ron Brown at July 22, 2006 12:23 AM
Comment #169661

I started out as a liberal blogger, but I guess I wasn’t very good at it. For all practical purposes, I lost every argument in which I participated. So now I claim to be a conservative that just snipes now and then.

It’s easier to be a conservative than a liberal. You don’t have to be self-loathing, and you don’t have to go against everything for which American stands.

Posted by: Bruce at July 22, 2006 12:39 AM
Comment #169663


“There’s more to this argument, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. Some blogger might “borrow” my thoughts.”

My aren’t we smug?


Have you considered the “community” aspect of bloggers?
In my travels through the Internet, I have noticed that while a few people can be read all over, many congregate in just a few places. Most blogs seem only to attract the crowds relevant to the political persuasion of the blogger.
Watchblog, on the other hand, has a varied core group, and more visitors of all beliefs than I have seen any place else.

My greatest disappointment though, is that even here people are judged and pigeonholed by those at the extremes, as if their politics were the only thing that mattered in their life.

Posted by: Rocky at July 22, 2006 1:03 AM
Comment #169667


This is one reason I blog. Would that it were my main reason. The spirit is willing but the flesh is indeed weak.
From the New Living Translation
2Timothy 2:23,26
Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Posted by: JR at July 22, 2006 2:08 AM
Comment #169669

Trying to have a logically based arguement with a liberal is like banging your head repeatedly against a brick wall…you get a massive headache and the brick wall is still a brick wall. (But at least the brick wall feels good about being brick wall).


Posted by: DaveR at July 22, 2006 2:40 AM
Comment #169701

Conservative bloggers are like sisyphus, the summit being the truth and we all no where the libs fit into the equation.

Posted by: Dick at July 22, 2006 10:27 AM
Comment #169717

I was inteviewed on this topic of blogs and politics some time ago. You can read this interview about WB and blogs/politics with some interesting comments here!

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 22, 2006 11:07 AM
Comment #169720


The link didn’t take.

Posted by: Rocky at July 22, 2006 11:18 AM
Comment #169727

Being called a Weirdo, hey that is the nicest thing someone has called me today.
Thanks Jack, and we don’t agree on alot, but did like this article.
I am neither a liberal or conserative, but a person who is looking for the truth, and voices my opinion like everyone else does.
Hey if we can’t talk and disagree with each other then we must be in China

Posted by: KT at July 22, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #169744

Watchblog would be ban in China. Maybe even criminal.
It’s only places where folks are free to express their opinions that a blog like this works.

Posted by: Ron Brown at July 22, 2006 1:12 PM
Comment #169758

Alot of bloggers are retired CIA operations officers that came out during Plame. They are actually trying to work in what they consider a threat.

Posted by: Oepa at July 22, 2006 2:15 PM
Comment #169823

I hate to say it, but I agree with you. You may think that I write long posts, but if you were in my town, you’d know I can talk most people into total boredom.

I like this blog. I got kicked off two blogs for disagreeing with a comment. What is the point of a political blog if everyone always agrees with each other?

Good post! It’s kinda hard to discussion it, though - and I fall into to the weirdos category all by myself. I just have fun in life. That alone makes me a liberal.

Posted by: Linda H. at July 22, 2006 8:43 PM
Comment #169867

“I just have fun in life. That alone makes me a liberal.”


Of all the silly nonsense I get from liberals, (I’m an officer in a labor union so I get a lot) that’s right up there with “Jimmy Carter was a great president”.

Posted by: traveller at July 22, 2006 11:40 PM
Comment #170014

Hmmm, this post certainly brought out the strangeness in the posters.

I like how Rhinehold “conscrewed” his ideas:)

A lot of these guys would scare me, in a face to face. But then a lot of people scare me.

Posted by: gergle at July 23, 2006 5:17 PM
Comment #170061


It’s obivous that you are way to serious for your own good.

You take a joke seriously enough to actually respond to it.

By the way I never voted for Carter, although hind-sight in to Regan’s character (“I don’t remember…)frequently made me wonder about my choice. Oh, and I’m still waiting for my share of the trickle down pennies…

Except I won’t even see my pennies if the mint quits making them….oh well….

Posted by: Linda H. at July 23, 2006 9:15 PM
Comment #170064

Linda H.,
I got the joke. Apparently you didn’t.

Posted by: traveller at July 23, 2006 9:24 PM
Comment #170114


There was a joke? Nope just Jack blogging about blogging…

Posted by: Marysdude at July 23, 2006 11:37 PM
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