This post is coming about in reference to a comment by Nagarjuna regarding our previous discussions about posts & comments at Gagdad Bob’s One Cosmos and Gagdad’s blogging style. Nagarjuna made several points, I want to select two key topics from his list to address,
"Should "taking a stand one way or the other" mean ad hominem attacks on those who take a different stand, or should it mean substantive and respectful discussion of your differing stands? And once we take our stand, should we cling to it no matter what new facts and insights come our way, or should we keep our ears open to the different stand of others and our minds and hearts open to the possibility that they might contain some truth?"
I want to approach this in two Post parts (since one extended spaghetti-styled comment I typed on a pocketPC wasn’t near enough – and will make me shake my head at myself for ages to come).
1- What is an appropriate approach to such discussions on a blog, and
2 - What is sufficient info to form a concept and when is it appropriate to dismiss someone (based upon their public statements) out of hand.
I’d intended to establish a larger base of posts on issues fundamental to concepts as a whole, before attempting to post on any of these subjects, so I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, but... (I'll just say I’m being fancy by jumping "in medias res" and pretend it's justified and intentional).
Take a look at this first:
- "should it mean substantive and respectful discussion of your differing stands"
I’d say first you’ve got to consider the context. In a Blog, to a certain extent, you can assume that readers have some degree of familiarity with your general points of view, particularly if your Blog has been posting for months and years. And within that context, the audience you’re targeting are going to be familiar with common points of view on people, trends & events; they are neither going to need or want, to have to wade through justifications and explanations of all the terms and issues, particularly if they’ve been posted on heavily over the lifetime of the blog, and or if you’ve favorably linked to articles & other blogs that have delved deep into the subject.
As for quips about derisive comments on another Blog or article – no I don’t think those need substantive and respectful discussion of them or the stands involved. As I said previously, quips about rival blogs points of view, tend to take a tone of the belly up to the bar and good naturedly slam the rival team with in-jokes and cheeky insults that will be winked at amongst the blogs community. I really don’t think such “Yankees vs Red Sox” type put downs are worth much more ink than they cost to put up on the screen, and it’s a bit silly to behave as if they do. Quips are quips, they’re not intellectual discussions.
When a subject is the topic of a post, and not just a quip, then yes, it should be dealt with in a substantive manner, and given the respect that depending on it’s familiarity within your blog, and its community and their expected familiarity with it – it may or may not deserve. The subjects that Gagdad Bob posts on, I think he gives a well rounded digging into – again assuming a certain level of understanding from his community.
Blogs are a new and unique literary form. They blend aspects of the 17th & 18th belles letterix, where people in a certain field or clique would circulate letters among themselves and their Salons, expounding on some new ideas, commenting on familiar ideas or individuals. They also can be a means to dig into new ideas, or new perspectives on an existing idea, they also can be a clearing house for breaking news, and much, much more.
Where the readers find the post to be lacking, they can comment, criticize & link to further discussions to their hearts content – often producing quite remarkable discussions, and sometimes light fluff. The Poster & Commentators have the ability to go as in depth as they feel they need to, and those who don’t feel that they’re getting what they need from it can express their dissatisfaction and or move on.
Blogs are neither primarily intellectual journals, water-cooler chats nor gossip columns – but a new blend of all those and more. In the case of One Cosmos, I think Gagdad Bob provides plenty of information in his posts for interested readers to be able to follow his train of thought, how he reached those conclusions, and the Google next door is readily available for me to supply any and all means necessary to help me clarify or counter any of those thoughts I might question.
I first happened upon One Cosmos, by way of one of his comments on American Digest. I thought his perspective was interesting, I clicked over to his site and read a few posts – some of it I got, some seemed a bit odd, some very intriguing, and some baffling. Vertical? Horizontal? What the heck did directions have to do with an otherwise intellectual discussion?
I clicked further, read some other posts & comments, and over a short period of time, found it to be such an excellent illustrative image for essentially how I used “Higher level Concepts” and “Perceptual Level thoughts” that it’s become favorite terms in my own thinking.
Provided that the Blog supplies some level of explanation within its several posts & related links, then I don't see any problem with the Blogger using an appropriate amount “sizzle” in its posts to say what the Blogger thinks needs to be said. What level is appropriate to both the Blogger and the reader is going to be worked out between them in the comments section. It really is the perfect Informational Free Market, sans the Cash transaction.
Does Gagdad Bob engage in biting statements, one liners & zingers? Yes in deedy! Do I consider any of them "Ugly"? No, not at all. Do I think that anyone with the least bit of initiative would be at a loss to find more detailed explanations within One Cosmos and its related links to back them up? Not at all. And of course those who disagree with his (or my) thinking can comment, ask for clarification, or just move on. Not a problem.
Again, for examples of Ugly, refer to Huffington Post or Daily Kos. Do I feel a need to expand further on what I find ugly or despicable about either? No, not in the least. I trust that any reader, who is unfamiliar with them, will be fully capable of checking them out & judging for themselves.
Nagarjuna also stated "I have never seen Bob take any of Chomsky's statements or opinions and rebut it. Instead, he engages in ugly name-calling."
Ok. Try this.
At the top of One Cosmos's blog (and I think all Blogger Blogs) there is a little search field, and if you type in "noam chomsky" and click "Search This Blog", which will return hits from 21 different posts involving varying degrees of detailed discussion of Chomsky, including this clicked at random:
From Monday, June 19, 2006, "We are Endowed by our Biology with Certain Unalienable Illusions and Appetites" , there is a lengthy post on Chomsky regarding an article he wrote (which is linked to), including:
"But you knew Chomsky was going to say that. He doesn’t “think” so much as apply a template over reality so that it always comes out looking the same: U.S. bad, enemies of U.S. good. Chomsky, of course, is one of the intellectual luminaries of the far left, and the far left is increasingly becoming indistinguishable from the left (which long ago abandoned liberalism). "
This is followed by 37 comments by those involved in the conversation taking the opportunity to work it over to their hearts content.
What more do you want? And to indulge in a minor return zing, how could you make such a statement without even the simplest steps to check your facts?
Once again, for examples of Ugly, refer to Huffington Post or Daily Kos.