Weblog internationalism: blog bridges, blog mobs

Weblog internationalism: blog bridges, blog mobs
: One of the most exciting aspects of weblogging for me is the international nature of it.

Webloggers link to news from sources around the world with different viewpoints (see Steven Johnson’s study of Technorati headlines).

And webloggers manage to make connections across any borders — national, ideological, religious, linguistic — here. See Martin Roell and Ton Zijlstra on making such connections via this post.

The most gratifying moments I’ve had with this weblog have been such moments on blog bridges. Early on, I tried to make use of my bad German to read German blogs; I linked to them (see my blogroll); they linked to me; conversations and, I hope, friendships followed. And now, when I link to something, I find it popping up in German blogs quickly either because of me or another blog bridge on either side. I have been captivated by the story of Iranian bloggers carrying on a true revolution (rather than our couch revolution) and I’m delighted to have met many of them online. Most recently, I’m gratified to see a new Iraqi blogger, Zeyad, giving us a fresh perspective from Baghad at HealingIraq. See other links in this post below and various posts inbetween.

That is all good: new communication, new connections, new understanding, new information, new relationships, new power.

That is all something that could not happen before blogs.

: But, of course, there is a bad side, too. That’s no surprise. This weekend, I linked to various European blogs that had critical things to say about anti-Americanism and this began to bring out Europe bashing to match the America bashing.

What’s most curious about this is that online, Americans and Iranians and Iraqis are getting along better than Americans and French and Germans. Perhaps we’re too close, too familiar. Perhaps there are other, more complex reasons. Whatever.

My point — a quite simplistic one, in the end — is that we need to guard against bashing … or the assumption that criticism is the same as bashing.

I link to some German sites that are critical of anti-Americanism from Ted Honderich or Michael Moore, below, and people come on and engage in inane German bashing. That doesn’t do anybody any good and certainly doesn’t advance the discussion. On the other hand, when I criticize Jacques Chirac for dumping on us, I’m accused of bashing. That, too, doesn’t advance the discussion.

The great potential of this medium is to create connections that could not exist before. Let’s not disconnect.

Here ends my Mister Rogers moment.