October 20, 2008

What’s blogging?

Filed under: blogs,China — Kim @ 4:47 pm

A certain Mr Andrew Sullivan over at The Atlantic magazine recently wrote an essay about blogging. What is blogging? What are its strengths and weaknesses? etc etc. Here’s an extract I want to pick a quarrel with:

blogging suffers from the same flaws as postmodernism: a failure to provide stable truth or a permanent perspective. A traditional writer is valued by readers precisely because they trust him to have thought long and hard about a subject, given it time to evolve in his head, and composed a piece of writing that is worth their time to read at length and to ponder. Bloggers don’t do this and cannot do this—and that limits them far more than it does traditional long-form writing.

But that seems a rather partial perspective to me. Take just 3 examples from the (English language) China blogosphere…What about old Mr Useless Tree or The Granite Studio or Mutant Palm. Are they not thoughtful writers? Are their posts not very often carefully considered and worth pondering?

I guess a lot of blogging is done in a hurry, but considering this was a piece published in a prestigious “dead-tree” magazine, and therefore by his own criteria should be more complex and subtle and thoroughly thought through, it seemed a bit too prone to sweeping statements: “Bloggers don’t do this and cannot do this”, and too narrow in its definition of what blogging is. He ought to get out in the blogosphere a bit more perhaps.

Oh, and the main reason I read The Atlantic is for the excellent China pieces by James Fallows. Check out his latest.


  1. It’s funny, that paragraph pretty well describes exactly how Sullivan blogs: short, off-the-cuff, stream of thought kind of stuff. I tend to like it, but it’s a particular kind of blog, and Sullivan seems to push that definition on the whole medium.

    The notion of what blogging is, I think, suffers a bit from what it can be. It’s a medium that facilitates speed, flexibility and conversation, and hence many blogs are simply a series of facilitated dialogs (no complaints from me on that).

    But, as you point out, the medium certainly supports thought and reflection, and Fallows is an example of that, as is The China Beat or Imagethief.

    Comment by Chris Amico — October 21, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  2. Bloggers = 引き篭もり

    Comment by Bernard Wrangle — October 30, 2008 @ 11:25 am

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