The Church of Blog: Four

The Church of Blog
: Four times as many people have read my sermon online as heard it in church last night.

: Was I making fun of California. Oh, sorry, I should have been making fun of Florida, the state filled with moldy-brained doofi.

Community, care and feeding of
: Clay Shirky has wise things to say about community (speaking to a bunch from the BBC):

The order of things in broadcast is “filter, then publish.” The order in communities is “publish, then filter.” If you go to a dinner party, you don’t submit your potential comments to the hosts, so that they can tell you which ones are good enough to air before the group, but this is how broadcast works every day. Writers submit their stories in advance, to be edited or rejected before the public ever sees them. Participants in a community, by contrast, say what they have to say, and the good is sorted from the mediocre after the fact.

Media people often criticize the content on the internet for being unedited, because everywhere one looks, there is low quality — bad writing, ugly images, poor design. What they fail to understand is that the internet is strongly edited, but the editorial judgment is applied at the edges, not the center, and it is applied after the fact, not in advance. Google edits web pages by aggregating user judgment about them, Slashdot edits posts by letting readers rate them, and of course users edit all the time, by choosing what (and who) to read.

He goes on to say that weblogs aren’t really community because there isn’t, in a weblog, a lot of community communication. They’re publishing. And he’s right.

But what has fascinated me about this world of weblogs is that as a group, they are a community. There is, to use the jargon, “intercast” communications between and among webloggers: I link to and comment on somebody, publicly; they do likewise; others join in; zap: community.

And there is also the sort of after-the-fact editing-by-community that Shirky describes above: The best (or most controversial or bombastic) get links; links beget links; Blogdex quantifies the links; that, in turn, begets links and traffic (for a day, anyway). Cream rises. (Then it quickly curdles…. This is the online equivalent of the old newspaper fishwrap metaphor: Hot today, history tomorrow.)

A vente connection
: When I left the memorial services in Manhattan yesterday, I wanted to sit down and write — and blog — just then, so I found the nearest Starbucks and, voila, I was online. I have to say, T-mobile has this working like a charm: easy and slick if too expensive. If I were still a travelin’ man, I’d be using this all the time. It almost makes me like Starbucks. Almost.

Go out of business? That assumes they ever had a business…
: A truly stupid, bit-wasting debate going on over Salon and its tasteless publication of tasteless comments on September 11th (and what was I saying about Californians and September 11th?). Damian Perry says they should go out of business, then wimps out and says he doesn’t really mean it, and then Scott Rosenberg of Salon blathers on, as only a Salonite can, about all this.

Meanwhile, Salon glub-glubs under its debt and lack of profit. Fate will take its course.

On lighter notes…
: Can’t someone take the President aside and teach him how to say “nuclear?”

: So I’m walking down Sixth Avenue today, downtown of midtown, and there are two young Greenpeace geeks wearing yellow (is it too obvious if they wear green? and by the way, why does that trucking company Yellow have an orange logo, but I digress) hitting up everyone walking by like a couple of sidewalk spammers. I walk by them twice. They hit everyone.

But they don’t hit me.

I’m wearing a gray suit and white shirt.

A colleague of mine calls that my protective coloration for my job. Works for the street, too: “Don’t bother the guy in the suit. Obviously, a greedy, earth-killing ass.”

: I’m glad September 11th is over.

: I wasn’t going to say anything about September 11th today. But here I am because I have to: Read Lileks today; even better than yesterday.

: And here I go again: A radioactive ship caught off the Jersey coast. Just when I thought it was safe…