Paul Kedrosky, highly visible Internet/Money guy, tweets: “So strange to see people talking about future of blogs in 2013. Blogs still exist?” (His own blog is now just a daily tweetpendium.) Paul’s smart, but that’s ridiculous.
Just to warm up, here’s some recent random blog brilliance, harvested from less-than-a-month-old tabs in the nearest browser.
Doc Searls, Identity is personal.
The gunslinger blog, scenes from the wild west.
Colby Cosh, Lord, send pesticide for the weed of ‘gendercide’.
What Matters · We increase and improve our body of knowledge through conversation. When this involves serious issues, those that matter, the appropriate unit is, more or less, the essay; neither very-long nor very-short form.
I claim that right now, in the second decade of the current millennium, the quality of conversations about what matters is at an all-time high. No, not in the corridors of power. Nor, unfortunately, in the official channels for academic publishing. It’s the blogs, stupid.
Macroeconomics · My evidence is anecdotal but I think convincing. First, Paul Krugman in In Praise of Econowonkery argues that all the macroeconomic debate that matters is happening in blog form.
Software · Second, I would appeal to the notion of the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect:
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
So... bearing that in mind, let’s look at my own profession, where I observe the opposite; that the work which is pushing back the frontiers of software engineering, and the arguments about things that matter between people who know, are overwhelmingly blogged. It is a rare week when I don’t read something about the art and craft of programming that doesn’t widen my eyes and expand my mind. Random recent-browser-tab examples:
Charlie Nutter, On Languages, VMs, Optimization, and the Way of the World.
Joe Armstrong, A Week with Elixir.
Bill de hÓra, On Go.
I observe a sort of reverse-Murray-Gell-Mann-effect. Not that that’s proof or anything, but it’s useful evidence.
Politics · I’m not a political professional, but I’m a student and fan of the process. And, near as I can tell, all the serious political discourse, that which is contentful and principled and nuanced, is on blogs. I could name names, but I’m not going to bother because I suspect everyone else who actually cares about politics is already nodding.
So maybe politics and software and macroeconomics are unique and weird, in that in each of them, serious discourse has basically moved to online-essay form. But that would be surprising.
Me, I remain proud to be a citizen of the blogosphere.