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Wednesday, January 07, 2004  

Blogospherics: Blogging boondoggles

Don't you just lo-o-o-ve academic jargon?

Really, though. Some experiences I recently had in the blogosphere have led me to make a suggestion.

Neo-Confederate sympathizer Al Barger, innocently, he says, claims insurers should charge homosexuals different premiums than heterosexuals because they have very short life expectancies in an entry at Blogcritics. Barger, unusually for him, did cite a source. Unfortunately, the source, Right Wing commentator Walter Williams, relied on 'research' by zealots from the Christian Right, one of whom has been ejected from the American Psychological Association for making up data to support his antipathy toward gays.

Yesterday, Doug Mohney, a reporter for the Inquirer, angered some Blogcritics by briefly alluding to blogs as 'losers.'

Blogging, in combination with dead half-finished web pages, has the potential to give Google and anyone trying to find information on the increasingly cluttered web high-blood pressure. Advocates say it's a democratic way to counter the mass media so anyone can post a screed against The Man. Not that anyone would want to consider the old-fashioned values of editing and reworking text before posting. And maybe I don't care what albums or books you are reading.

The most common response was to castigate the reporter for daring to criticize a sacred cow hereabouts, weblogs.

John Mudd was not pleased.

Both bloggers and non-bloggers can plainly see that Doug's outlash against bloggers is only a cheap way for him to keep his job, to maintain his value to his publisher.

The Inquirer is wasting their money. They should let Doug go today and hire a blogger who will do work of equal-value and expertise for less money, or perhaps even for free.

Neither was Anita Campbell.

Chris Seper, in his Chat Room LIVE weblog , points out an article in the Inquirer naming bloggers as losers in a listing of the year's technology winners and losers.

The Inquirer article is so far out of touch with the majority of the population, the only possible response is amusement.

I mean, you can't give much credibility to an article so filled with tech jargon that it is virtually unintelligible.

And yet the author complains about blogs?

However, an examination of data about weblogs mostly supports what he said: They are mainly web clutter. Does that mean your blog is just clogging up Google? Probably not, especially if you are on the blogroll at Mac-a-ro-nies, but most of the five million or so are. Their proprietors usually abandon them sometime between one day and four months. Even while publishing blogs are too often sources of disinformation and misinformation.

Barger's entry is an example of what is wrong with the blogosphere. So, is the blog entry I cited in an piece below, "Parents are greatest peril to children." The mythologies he is promoting about child abuse -- that women are natural nurturers and that the main danger to children is strangers -- are the exact opposite of the truth research supports. Around 80 percent of child abuse cases involve the child's parents. Sixty percent of reported abusers are women. About five percent of abductions are by strangers, the rest are by family members.

So, we see the problem. Too often bloggers post any old thing to the Internet. I believe the solution to that problem is to advise people of how they can recognize the difference between reliable information and, well, bullshit. So, I am suggesting that capable bloggers post entries about how responsible research is done. For example, one might explain why a methodology that relies on making conclusions from newspaper obituaries is not reliable in regard to non-apparent characteristics such as sexual preference. Or, one could note that 'because people at Free Republic believe this' does not make it true. Most useful of all would be explanations of research methodology.

You, say, 'But, that sounds like doing some hard work. It is much easier to write about my cat's affection for her new rubber mouse.' You are right. However, I think applying at least minimum standards to blogging will go a long way toward making the criticisms of people like Mohney less true. If we perform better, most blogs won't be Web clutter anymore.

2:15 PM