Monday, February 27, 2006
To Blog or not to Blog...
I started this blog back in early November, kind of as a trial run. I was on unemployment, we were heading into another long, cold new york city winter, and i figured to be on the computer quite a bit so i was like fuck it - lets see what this blog world is all about.
At first i was really into it, i have to admit. It was nice to link up all of the articles that have been so helpfull to me over the past few years as a student activist. It was cool to mess around with the design and lay-out of the template and the pictures i was using. Initially there were a lot of nice emails from friends, family and political allies that were encouraging of the project. Ive published a little over 30 posts over the past few months, usually pretty regularly (not counting this past month obviously). Still as i sit here now in late February, im not sure what to make of these first few months...
From the start, i told myself that the blog thing would only be worth it if other people were checking in, posting comments, and in general finding the content useful to some extent. It is true that the plan was also to help me focus a bit more on writing more regularly and following the various news articles and debates online - but this was more of a secondary reason to having the chance to interact with various activists from around the country (and internationally at times). Realizing that a few months of blogging and 30+ posts has hardly been much of an experience to make larger generalizations off of, there is definitely something about internet culture and online posting boards that scares me.
1. It actually takes a fair amount of time and energy to publish good thought out posts complete with relevant links to other stories etc. This might be something that gets easier with time im sure, but at the moment its pretty time intensive.
2. Online discussions & activism in general is often pretty alienating. You are sitting in front of a screen for extended periods of time, often by yourself, thinking about what kind of smart insights or footnote's you have to add to the days discussions. Unless you do get a series of responses, its usually not a colaborative effort and you wonder if anyone out there is really reading the stuff anyway.
3. Because of the way that technology functions in our society, specifically on the lefty political bulletin boards, healthy social interaction often end ups quickly giving way to confrontational (and generally nasty) back and forths. These back and forths often end up in a debate around political ideology and orientation rather then the concrete questions that started the discussion inthe first place. Almost any Indymedia posting that you see draw more then a handfull of posts is a good example of this. It is rarely amount an online community trying to build with each other or genuinely trying to struggle through difficult questions, it is more like different ideologues trying to win each other to their respective positions, or if that seems too hard just insult the other person (either outright or in more subtle condescending ways).
4. Many agree that todays generations of activists are not rooted enough in oppressed communities. This is because of a wide variety of reasons, some of which are very complicated and have to do with the larger political shifts in this country over the past 30 years. Still, if we acknowledge this as one of our starting points, then it is questionable how online blogs and the resulting conversations and arguments on these blogs are going to actually move us forward in some real way.
I still think blogs like this are usefull as a way to communicate and share some ideas and articles with friends of and folks that you already have some relationships with. However, as with everything we have to prioritize where to put our energies. There is so much work out there that needs to be done, and I (like most of you who are reading this) am already too over involved and over extended with other projects. The last year or so ive decided thats it seems better to do a smaller amount of political projects really well then to be involved in a ton of different things and not be able to put all of yourself into any one of them. The way forward is in the end i think is strong local activist formations, rooted in real social relationships and diverse communities of people, being in touch with larger regional and national/global networks but really prioritizing local work as none of those networks mean a thing without that base of people committed to each other and ready to move. Im thinking maybe something more specific to the New York City area might be more helpful then this current format.
Having said that, I will try to post as often as I can and update some of the article links when it makes sense. If you are reading this you know that feedback is always encouraged. Perhaps there would be a better format for this thing to be more useful to folks?