Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Blogging as a social indictment

Very interesting "Farewell" to blogging statement where John Duff (academic) announces the end of his blog and includes some provocative thoughts about the blogging phenomenon, amongst which he says that blogging...

testifies to the the absolutely incredible inability of our current society to make something of people's intelligence, skill, time, and desire to be useful: we have to ask ourselves what is going on when our society has to create a massive virtual repository for less professionally oriented intellectual work, give it none of the material benefits of the actual world of letters or make it subject to the same restraints or regulations, and then even have the gall to call it "self-publishing."

Spot on. In the recent past there has been a flurry of claims floating around the media about the "revolution" taking place on the internet (even appearing incongruously and repeatedly on such totally unrevolutionary channels as BBC World). Under certain conditions (primarily government crackdowns on other forms of communication and social gathering) things like Facebook and Twitter can become key instruments for social movements but that doesn't make them essentially revolutionary. It would be possible to argue that under normal conditions in a fairly liberal regime blogging, micro-blogging and all the social networking systems effectively divert energies into an arena where people can express themselves and let off steam (if necessary) without this having any impact on the central dynamic of the rest of society. The problem for social radicals is that nothing really changes - we remain bricks in the wall, in a sense, but each brick now has its own avatar and a page on FB. The broader problem, though, is that all those energies are going to waste. People are keen to express themselves, to read and form an opinion, speak out and get involved. It is a sad indictment of the current social order that those energies, interests and abilities are not able to become part of a richer, more democratic public life.