What Has Blogging Really Accomplished?

Chris Clarke wants to know. He borrows the question from one of his readers, who says in part:

What has all the good writing, the confirmation that there is really Someone Intelligent and Caring out there, actually accomplished—besides making us feel a little better for a few minutes?

Be honest about that. Even with the really big-time blogs. What real, solid gains—for people other than the big bloggers themselves, who enjoy a quasi-celebrity and a quasi-legitimacy—have been made because of blogs?

But yes! I have suckered you into reading yet another one of those tedious “whither blogging?” posts! Score!

Seriously, though, it’s a worthwhile question. You can see my response in comment #71 there, which I won’t bother repeating here, but I thought of something else after I’d posted that comment: Right-wing blogs are not asking this question. I think they will be in the coming months when, I hope, they find themselves sinking into a pit of despair and despondence–but right now, they’re not asking it. Most of the major right-wing bloggers believe they’re effective at getting their goals accomplished, offline as well as on.

Granted, I think some of those goals are damned wacky–was it that important to get CBS to dump the Reagan biography on Showtime? Was it really?–but right-wing bloggers credit themselves with many victories, and you’ve probably noticed that some of the ones they take credit for ([cough] 101st fighting keyboarders [cough]) aren’t actually theirs to claim or, for that matter, even “victories” in the first place.

So hey: What goals should progressive blogs aim to accomplish? Or do you doubt their ability to ever do more than, as Chris’s reader put it, “[make] us feel a little better for a few minutes?” (Personally, if that’s all blogs ever do for me, I’ll take it. But don’t listen to me. I’ve been known to read some really cheap, silly, worthless-crap blogs.)

And if you know of any examples where a blog has really, truly, made something good happen out there, by all means, share them with Chris. I’d like to see him back in the saddle again come January.

UPDATE: This seems relevant. Via Reclusive Leftist.


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

78 comments for “What Has Blogging Really Accomplished?

  1. Bill
    November 4, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Well, I was a homophobic, far-right-wing, fundamentalist Christian homeschooled to despised feminism, social programs, and evolution. I had a hard time bringing myself to vote for Bush in 2000, because I thought he was too liberal. Now, I’m a liberal, pro-feminist, fiscal moderate who despises the intelligent design PR campaign and sees gays as human. Blogging played a role in that change.

    At the same time, I question the value of spending too much time on blogging. If I just read blogs to get confirmation that those other folks are so stupid, but I don’t do anything else, I’m not advancing anything.

  2. November 4, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    Now, I’m a liberal, pro-feminist, fiscal moderate who despises the intelligent design PR campaign and sees gays as human. Blogging played a role in that change.

    Drastic! If you’re not having me on (and I’m sorry even to have to suggest that you might be, but you know, teh intertubes do encourage that sort of thing now and again), then excellent; I could credit blogs with plenty of my own viewpoint changes myself. It’s nice to get confirmation I wasn’t the only one affected by blogs in that way.

    If I just read blogs to get confirmation that those other folks are so stupid, but I don’t do anything else, I’m not advancing anything.

    Exactly. I’m guessing that’s where Chris and some of his readers are right now. It’s also come up somewhat here, in a “blog feminism != real-world feminism” sort of way.

    On the other hand, if a strong commitment to blogular activism means no more Love Song of J. Edgar Go1dstein-type posts, I’m gonna be devastated.

  3. Donna Darko
    November 4, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    Someone interviewed Kos and asked him if blogs were necessary. He said they motivate their constituents like church. If people didn’t need churches to motivate them to be good Christians, there would be no churches. They’re there to motivate, re-energize, educate, understand issues more deeply. Blogs can be like this.

  4. November 4, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Blogging is what moved me from political junkie to political activist. Idaho’s liberal blogosphere has actually been really inspiring and informative and active. I like to think it’s been a part of what’s moving Idaho to maybe elect a Democratic representative and governor this year. And really, look at how heavily Howard Dean relied on blogs and internet fundraising in his initial campaign for Presidential nominee, and I don’t doubt that his 50-state strategy relies a significant amount on the organizing power that blogs have and their power to direct money and attention to races (like ID-01, for example) that would otherwise be obscure. I don’t want to gush too much, but I think blogging reaches people who otherwise wouldn’t realize that they could participate in politics.

  5. dream_operator23
    November 4, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    I agree with Bill. I too was an uber conservative Chritian fundie for years. Then I started reading some feminist blogs and it really opened my eyes to a new perspective on life. I probably still would have fallen away from the church even without the net or blogs because I was starting to really question some things about Christianity, but these blogs have certainly helped me understand feminism and then realize that I wanted and needed to be a feminist too. Keep up the good work, it does change lives!

    Dream

  6. November 4, 2006 at 11:01 pm

    Well, blogs do influence the way I think about things (making more critical and careful as a consumer of information, for the most part), and that influences the way I – for example – vote, and also the way I talk about things, which may influence the way people in my non-blogging life think about things, and so on and so forth. Tiny, tiny factors of influence and change, but not nonexistent.

    And I guess I think that connecting with people is pretty powerful, too. I’ve made a lot of really good friends through blogging, and I do think that’s important.

  7. November 4, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    I too was an uber conservative Chritian fundie for years. Then I started reading some feminist blogs and it really opened my eyes to a new perspective on life.

    Another one? I’ll be damned. Listen! All y’all ex-fundies have to promise me something: Promise me you won’t tell Dawn Eden about this.

    Oh, I kid. I kid.

  8. Mastermind
    November 5, 2006 at 12:05 am

    Blogs allow people from many geographic areas with many different experiences to have discussions on the same topic. It also allows people to lurk, and find out about issues before they jump right in, if they want to.

    What aims should progressive blogs have?
    1) To alert readers of issues of interest and therefore promote discussion.
    2) provide a network (blogroll) of other related opinions and ideas
    3) To promote actual events
    4) decide who their targetted audience is, write to that group, and focus on developing that group (and deal with trolls/external opinions appropriately, depending on what atmosphere you want to create)

    I don’t have a blog, so this is just my opinion:) No offense to anyone, I’m not passing judgement.

    Side note: it is great to hear that feminist blogs can actually help some fundies see another set of opinions! Thank you for being open and listening.

  9. November 5, 2006 at 12:46 am

    And I guess I think that connecting with people is pretty powerful, too. I’ve made a lot of really good friends through blogging, and I do think that’s important.

    Yes. Reading feminist blogs did have an effect on my perspective (I wasn’t a fundie, but I was a ‘I’m all for equality, but those stinky feminists just hate men’ type as a younger thing).

    But Revena’s point about connecting with people is really important, too. Making friends and such. I can see the issue Chris is having, but I think there’s a danger in undervaluing ‘making ourselves feel better’, because having these sorts of spaces to discuss and clarify and vent are an important part of my feminism. It’s like a recharge; when the anger and despair are too much, when the idea that anger and despair are my only choices. Because we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t acknowledge that this shit is *hard*, because sexism and racism and the other *isms have roots that run deep, and digging them out is difficult. And I know there’s a danger in discouraging people if we admit that, but damn, acting as if it’s easy isn’t any less in danger of resulting in discouragement.

    And this comes back to why I think blogs are important, because difficult things are easier to cope with when you have supportive people around. And yeah, there aren’t as many of the meet-in-a-hall or someone’s basement or whatever type things going on (though they’re still going on, certainly), but I think blogs and the like can supplement that, because someone in a place where there aren’t the people in their immediate vicinity for support can still get that support, rather than just being all discouraged on their own and deciding it’s easier to just be complicit, because they’re just one person, and there’s no one around to tell them that they’re not.

  10. November 5, 2006 at 12:48 am

    I am not sure why they need to accomplish anything at all?

    I don’t blog much myself, although I really need to start doing so… mostly to get back in the habit of writing daily – which is one thing blogs can accomplish.

    I do love reading blogs, though – I tend to think of them as one huge, living, constantly changing, interactive library… I can read many different opinions, souces of knowledge, life experiences, silly stuff and learn from some amazing people that I would never have heard of before.

    What has all the good writing, the confirmation that there is really Someone Intelligent and Caring out there, actually accomplished—besides making us feel a little better for a few minutes?

    If this was all they did (and I think they do much more, and have the capacity for doing even lots more than they do now), wouldn’t that be enough? I live in CA, where even some of the far right “red” parts would be considered moderate in some parts of the country. But if one is leftish and surrounded by right wingers in some Southern or Midwestern state or something, the “I am not alone” thing can be very important.

    What goals should progressive blogs aim to accomplish?

    That depends on the blogger, of course, and on the blogger’s audience. Some people are already accomplishing things… networking, activism (political, moms, various interests, so on), writers and other groups and things like that.

    I think the full potential of blogging, social networking has yet to be tapped, and hopefully people will keep creating and coming up with new ways to use the medium.

    Still, though… I still don’t see why they need to accomplish anything at all, beyond just being there, and people enjoying them (both writers and readers).

  11. November 5, 2006 at 12:49 am

    I was never a fundie (thank God)–in fact, I’ve always been a super-liberal, pro-choice feminst–but I’ve still learned a lot from feminist blogs, and they have definitely changed the way I think about things. I can directly credit feminist blogs with my becoming a less judgmental person in a lot of ways. It really helped to read about so many different people’s life experiences and perspectives, and to see that some preconceived notions I had were wrong.

  12. November 5, 2006 at 1:00 am

    But if one is leftish and surrounded by right wingers in some Southern or Midwestern state or something, the “I am not alone” thing can be very important.

    I think Lauren herself has said as much before somewhere, but I admit I am too lazy to look it up right now.

  13. La Lubu
    November 5, 2006 at 1:08 am

    For me, blogs are a lifeline. It’s not a matter of “feeling good for a few minutes”; it’s a matter of knowing that there is a larger community of like-minded people out there—and it’s easy to dismiss that as a small thing if you are in the midst of a community (or have access to a community) in real-life that offers you that solidarity. If you have a place you can go to, or people to go to, where you can have a good conversation, talk about issues, then hey—maybe the time you spend blogging would be better spent in-person with others. Not all of us have that luxury.

    I found immediately upon becoming a parent how isolating it can be. For years, I was very active in my local union, in the labor community, and in other community organizations. Parenthood ended most of that—-mainly because children are not welcome in most of those spaces. And I’m bitter about that. I’m bitter that during the last election, there were folks that sucked their teeth when I picked up my daughter from preschool and set her up in a corner with a DVD player and some coloring books so I could phone bank to help get out the vote. And then those selfsame people will moan about “why don’t single women vote?” I was unemployed at the time, and so couldn’t have afforded a babysitter even if I could have found one (which I still can’t).

    Blogs aren’t an exercise in feelgood for me—it’s essential at this point in time for me to know, viscerally, that I am not alone. That I am not as isolated as I feel.

    Not to mention that blogs have been a way for folks to get information that they otherwise would not have. Even though I haven’t posted on my own blog in a good long while, women still send me emails asking about the trades. That was one of the reasons I started my blog in the first place—I couldn’t find any blogs by tradeswomen, and I wanted to provide a resource for female apprentices that I didn’t have back in the eighties. Blogs can be a window on a worlds—-and that shouldn’t be dismissed as irrelevant. There have been women in the trades since 1972, but I still, in 2006, get emails from women who have never met a tradeswoman, and want to know how they can be a tradeswoman, too. That means the world to me; that I have the power to open that window for them and let a little light in.

  14. November 5, 2006 at 1:08 am

    I think Lauren herself has said as much before somewhere, but I admit I am too lazy to look it up right now.

    Yeah, I definitely remember Lauren saying that a bunch of times. I’m too lazy to look it up too, but I know she’s talked about it.

  15. CGG
    November 5, 2006 at 1:24 am

    Blogs can spread news, raise awareness, and mobilize groups into action. They can be personal journals or social networks. That’s what’s so amazing about the platform.

  16. November 5, 2006 at 1:29 am

    Lubu, I can just barely tolerate you kicking ass all over this blog*. But do you have to kick ass all over the comments, too?

    If you have a place you can go to, or people to go to, where you can have a good conversation, talk about issues, then hey—maybe the time you spend blogging would be better spent in-person with others. Not all of us have that luxury.

    And you know something?–I’ve been too embarrassed to admit that, to admit that I don’t have that luxury. Instead I buy into the bullshit stereotypes about the lonely lovelorn loser sitting in front of the keyboard Saturday nights (uh…) covered in Cheetos dust, blah blah blah, because you know, it just wouldn’t be cool to say “Hey, I need this support. I need this outlet. I need this community.” But my attitude is incredibly stupid, because I’m not in high school anymore, and there are perfectly valid reasons for me being home on a Saturday night; namely, that this is when, where, and how I earn a living.

    I work Saturday nights so hipsters don’t have to. Remember that, kids, the next time you’re out at some festival or convention sneering at the stuck-at-work losers.

    Your remarks about the isolation of parenthood are some I also think Lauren would echo completely. It’s not an exercise in feel-good for people in that situation.

    *I lie, of course. I love it.

  17. November 5, 2006 at 1:45 am

    Many comments here – specifically, Laura’s, Dream Operator’s, Bill’s, and to some extent Ariella’s – answer a related question: “What has blogging done for me?”. That’s a worthy discussion, but it’s different from “What has blogging really accomplished?”. If the influence of the liberal blogosphere can be summed as, “We’ve helped persuade four people,” it doesn’t say good things about it.

    The way I see it, there are three different questions:
    1) “What has the Democratic blogosphere achieved?” (see e.g. Sara’s comment)
    2) “What has the liberal blogosphere achieved?”
    3) “What has the liberal (or Democratic) blogosphere done for me?”

    On 1), I have little to add to Sara’s comment: Howard Dean was created by Democratic blogs.

    My response to 3) is that it’s exposed me to many discussions of American politics, many of which were even informative. The issue discussions on Democratic Underground, from which I came to the blogosphere, were about class and foreign policy, but not race or gender (though it’s telling that my feminism was cemented not by reading feminist blogs, but by talking to anti-feminists and Stepford wives).

    2) is the most difficult. The liberal blogosphere can cause political changes by playing with the Democratic blogosphere to some extent, while hammering on it to become more liberal. But so far it hasn’t happened and seems unlikely to happen in the near future. The things it has accomplished are more local and limited, for example helping mobilize people to support pro-choice politicians and abortion clinics, to say nothing of helping Biting Beaver get an abortion.

  18. November 5, 2006 at 1:48 am

    *shrug* I figure blogs are a bit like having those coffeeshop conversations (which I’ve never actually seen take place, but assume to exist because TV says so), except without all the awkwardness of having to actually talk to someone you don’t know.

  19. November 5, 2006 at 2:01 am

    I actually think the question is kind of silly. What are blogs supposed to “accomplish?” Some kind of physical revolution? I also don’t like the idea that “activism” is somehow superior and more sanctified than blogging. What’s the point of rallies and such, if not to “raise awareness,” to draw attention to certain issues and advance certain arguments about them? Blogging does that far more effectively than a crowd of people chanting “Israel, USA, how many kids did you kill today?” (though that is catchy). Or is anyone really so risibly naive and cornpone as to think that when people “take to the streets” modern governments are somehow cowed by the display of “people power?”

  20. November 5, 2006 at 2:26 am

    Many comments here – specifically, Laura’s, Dream Operator’s, Bill’s, and to some extent Ariella’s – answer a related question: “What has blogging done for me?”. That’s a worthy discussion, but it’s different from “What has blogging really accomplished?”

    Yes, and I like your point that there are really three questions. I do wonder about this:

    If the influence of the liberal blogosphere can be summed as, “We’ve helped persuade four people,” it doesn’t say good things about it.

    The unknown here is how many people it is really. We know of four who have commented, but not every blog reader comments (just offhand I’d say most don’t), and this obviously is but one left-leaning blog. It may be more than four, but I’d like to be able to quantify it, and I see no way to do that. That’s frustrating.

    2) is the most difficult. The liberal blogosphere can cause political changes by playing with the Democratic blogosphere to some extent, while hammering on it to become more liberal. But so far it hasn’t happened and seems unlikely to happen in the near future.

    You came to liberal and feminist blogs via Democratic Underground; I came to them via right-wing blogs. It’s because of that background that I’d argue with you about how “unlikely to happen in the future” a push left, generated by liberal blogs, really is. Because what I saw happen on the right, to summarize it very loosely, was a push post-2004 towards social conservatism or, if you prefer, simply a push farther right. Or: Instapundit in 2002 was almost believable as a guy who’d voted for Gore in 2000, but was now glad Gore hadn’t won. Instapundit nowadays (dating from not long after the Iraq war began) is only believable as an outright Republican shill and a hard rightist.

    What changed? His readership. So-cons took 2004 the same way Bush did: As a mandate. They became more vocal and more mobilized. They credited themselves with winning the election. I love all the people who think that “Jesusland” map was an insult–so-cons took that as a compliment.

    I think Reynolds had a choice between going the way of John Cole and standing in opposition to them . . . or accommodating his readers. He chose to accommodate his readers. Maybe he even wanted to. Maybe he’s been a paid flack all along. I have no idea.

    My point is, the right-wing blogosphere in 2002 looked very little like it does now. The tone and the subject matter have shifted right. If they can do it, why can’t liberal blogs? Are there other factors I’m overlooking, other potential obstacles? That’s my question.

    The things it has accomplished are more local and limited, for example helping mobilize people to support pro-choice politicians and abortion clinics, to say nothing of helping Biting Beaver get an abortion.

    Which is no mean feat, really, if you can get enough local and limited action to make it a widespread phenomenon.

  21. November 5, 2006 at 2:28 am

    Many comments here – specifically, Laura’s, Dream Operator’s, Bill’s, and to some extent Ariella’s – answer a related question: “What has blogging done for me?”. That’s a worthy discussion, but it’s different from “What has blogging really accomplished?”. If the influence of the liberal blogosphere can be summed as, “We’ve helped persuade four people,” it doesn’t say good things about it.

    Umm…isn’t changing people’s attitudes a pretty big part of social change? It’s not the only part, but it’s important. Four people out of fewer than 20 commenters so far isn’t so small, when you think about it. I’m not saying that the internet has some amazing power to change everyone’s lives, but I do think that opening people’s minds is a legitimate political accomplishment of blogs. It is different from direct influence on electoral politics, a la Howard Dean, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant to political and social goals or that it’s only about individual people.

  22. La Lubu
    November 5, 2006 at 2:46 am

    it just wouldn’t be cool to say “Hey, I need this support. I need this outlet. I need this community.”

    See??!! That’s exactly why blogs are still useful! Because I hestitated to type that shit in too. I thought, “Oh great, here it comes…..somebody is going to come up in here and bluntly ask me if I have any friends, or if I’m such a misanthrope that I can’t get any friends, or some shit like that, and I’m’n’a have to come out swingin’….”

    But I did it anyway. Because it was such a frequent refrain on the alternative parenting boards I used to go to, back when they existed. So I already knew I wasn’t alone. The answer to the hypothetical question? Yes, I have friends—for the most part, they live very far from here. The economy around here sucks, and folks tend to leave for greener pastures. I don’t have many work friends—scads of friendly acquaintances, but not friends—because I’m a single woman and most of my compadres are married men. In Bum Fuck, Illinois, married men don’t call single women over to watch the ball game, or play poker, or shoot the shit, or any of the things they call on guy friends to do. They talk to me at work and after union meetings and ask me about my kid and how my mother’s doing—-but there’s a barrier there that can’t be crossed. Every man who has bothered to become more of a friend than that has had rumors started about him that he was sleeping with me (which is bullshit in every sense of the term, but I still try to find humor in it).

    And like I said, I wasn’t exactly a wallflower in the past, but because of the overwhelming child-unfriendliness in the atmosphere here (which yes, is more pronounced on the left than the right, unfortunately), there are a lot of people I seldom see anymore. It’s weird. I guess I didn’t realize that becoming a mother meant you had to give up everything else. It wasn’t how I was raised; my mother was very active in her Local as a steward and was even elected to the Executive Board—that was my model for motherhood—that you could still have room for the essentials in your life that didn’t revolve around your family. Flash forward, and I’m getting the hairy eyeball for doing the same thing. Did shit really change that much from the Seventies? Did people really lose their minds after Reagan was elected?

    Thing is, I could go to just about any fundamentalist church in town, and be welcomed with open arms and attend special consciousness-lowering groups and such, if only I were willing to perform the Justification Pantomime. And I’m jumping up and down to find community with people who profess to be progressive, and not getting anywhere.

    A lot of it is this Place, this provincial city. I spent quite a bit of time today talking to a local Dem who’s running for county board about the lack of effective organizing and isolation and how artificial barriers keep people from participating and that’s why the Repugs are kicking our asses on election day, because they make outreach to people we don’t. He knocked on my door, and I basically told him “it’s about time!” He agreed with me, but hell, he’s not From Here either (and I was already warmed up, having soundly bent the ear of my precinct committeeman who also had the misfortune of knocking on my door today. He also agreed. He also isn’t From Here.)

    And that’s a big part of it, the isolation of provincial midwestern cities. People who aren’t From There don’t tend to stay. Which means at any given time, you’re losing as much community as you’ve built. An economy that sucks doesn’t help matters.

    So, blogs become a substitute for real-life places that don’t exist. I don’t find talking to strangers awkward, but I sense a distance in people around here. It’s hard to meet people and develop friendships because the space that leads to that intimacy doesn’t exist. There is no “commons” to go to around here; no welcome mat thrown out. Shit, I can’t just go accosting strangers on the street asking “do you think Bush should be impeached? are you against the war in Iraq too?” Folks would think I was nuts, even if they agreed with me! Blogs are that safe space—the way boards used to be. I know I can come here and talk the way I would to friends who’ve left for greener pastures long ago, and be instantly understood. And get a response I can understand.

  23. November 5, 2006 at 3:51 am

    The unknown here is how many people it is really. We know of four who have commented, but not every blog reader comments (just offhand I’d say most don’t), and this obviously is but one left-leaning blog. It may be more than four, but I’d like to be able to quantify it, and I see no way to do that. That’s frustrating.

    I initially quantified it at one reader in a thousand, but it was based on more faulty assumptions and wrong numbers than appear in a chapter of The Bell Curve. It’s also hard to even say how many readers the liberal blogosphere has.

    My point is, the right-wing blogosphere in 2002 looked very little like it does now. The tone and the subject matter have shifted right. If they can do it, why can’t liberal blogs? Are there other factors I’m overlooking, other potential obstacles? That’s my question.

    Off the top of my head, Bush campaigned on more warmongering, and the religious right has done a tremendous job at demanding to be not taken for granted with Supreme Court appointments. Powerline could then say the Republicans had a mandate to continue occupying Iraq, privatize Social Security, and ban abortion.

    In contrast, the Democrats aren’t campaigning on anything except making the trains run on time. They aren’t even campaigning on issues that poll higher than 80% like raising the minimum wage. It’ll take enormous spin to say they have a mandate to do anything. The right has that spin machine (megachurches, Fox News, Rush). The left doesn’t; the combined readership of the Democratic blogosphere, the liberal blogosphere, and sites like MoveOn doesn’t match Rush’s number of listeners.

  24. November 5, 2006 at 3:59 am

    I think I’ve worked out what’s bugging me about some of the parts of this conversation. This “real, solid gains” thing. This idea that this emotional support isn’t ‘real’. This idea that what happens on the blogosphere isn’t ‘real’. That persuading four people isn’t ‘solid’ because it’s not forty. That changing someone’s mind is only a victory for the person whose mind has been changed (I’d have to check with the social marketing expert of my social set, but I’m pretty sure he’d raise an eyebrow at that assertion).

    Because quite honestly, it all seems to be “well, our blogging isn’t measuring up to the social change standard of the people we think are spouting bollocks, so we fail.” And really, I can’t be the only one who thinks that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

    Now, I’m not saying that blogging will save the world, and replace all other forms of activism. Because that’s patently bollocks, too. But I’m not sure anyone’s actually claiming something that absurd. I’m just asking why we’re trying to measure the validity of the movement with this “real, solid gains” thing. Because who says what’s ‘real’, or ‘solid’? And why are ‘real’ and ‘solid’ the only things that matter?

  25. November 5, 2006 at 4:08 am

    Alon

    The fact that four people are stating on public record that their attitudes and behaviours have changed is not the sum totality of the influence.

    As a professional social marketing researcher, the hardest part of the business is getting attitudinal change. Laws can force behaviour, only attitude can make the behaviour seem like a good idea, and only then does substantive change occur.

    Blogging also assists in raising awareness of issues (again, something much more difficult to achieve with advertising and media releases). It encourages conversation, negotiation and explanation which is usually more useful for helping change occur over time.

    So the fact four people have testified to moving a considerable distance from their original belief indicates that the medium creates an opportunity for change.That’s one more place, one more aspect than if we lack blogs entirely, so it matters as a means of social change over the long term.

    Opening the game to more players and persuaders is an achievement. How well those persuaders do their job is a separate issue from how well blogging serves as a medium for communicating alternate views.

  26. November 5, 2006 at 6:48 am

    I think that progressive blogging helps to accomplish social change. Progressive blogs present different viewpoints that, over time, help people see things in a different way. Is this a “victory”? Maybe not in a short-term, tangible way, but social change is not a short-term, tangible goal. Without it, though, where would we be? A lot of proponents of social change do not live to see the change they fought for enacted. We all know this does not make their work meaningless.

    I believe that progressive blogs have helped people, myself included, become more aware of our privilege, where we have it. Become more aware of issues we might not have considered as part of our daily lives, simply because we don’t see their direct impact on our daily lives. Through blogging, we can see how they have a direct impact on the daily lives of others, which can be a far more effective way of driving their importance home to those of us who are not impacted by them on a daily level. News reports can only go so far. When you read someone’s personal story, you can empathize in ways you can’t (or don’t) when reading a reporter’s portrayal. This is what contributes to the long-term social change.

    It also helps to build online communities, which are beneficial to people who might not feel they fit in in their physical communities. In some ways, this leads to a fragmentation in our physical communities, but it builds different kinds of communities. I don’t know what the long-term impact of that will be, but I’m not convinced it’s a bad change. Society will, ultimately, figure out how to deal with it.

  27. November 5, 2006 at 7:02 am

    One issue where the blogosphere was very useful was changing how reporters discussed evolution. The coverage shifted from ‘he said-she said’ to ‘evolution, supported by multiple scientific lines of evidence.’ The left, including scientists who organized via the blogosphere, fought this battle–if a reporter’s inbox is jammed with fifty emails from biologists, it’s harder for them to ignore these criticisms. On many issues, the left-leaning (or simply non-lunatic right) pushback against biased media coverage is very important.

  28. November 5, 2006 at 7:40 am

    Thank you for not linking to me under “worthless crap blogs.”

  29. Em
    November 5, 2006 at 9:50 am

    On a personal scale, blogs and blogging have made me think. If I credit other people the way progressives are supposed to, that means blogs have made a lot of people think. Thinking people are growing people. Growing people tend to be(come) progressive and move from thinking to action.

    On a wider scale, I think this question is a no-brainer. How many people read Bradblog and write their congressmen about voting fraud? How many people read Shakes (or any of the other blogs that carried the story) and wrote and called DC about net neutrality? How many people would have even known about these things, or knowing, had the time and resources to do the researhch to learn about it? Right now in my area there is a shock ad that calls net neutrality “bad for consumers.” The ad actually says, “Don’t bother with the mumbo jumbo. Net neutrality is bad for consumers.” Now, I see that ad and I smell bullshit coming from the boobtube, but without blogs how would I have the information to refute the ad to someone who took it at face value?

    Blogs are an aggregate of investigative journalism that cover the issues progressives care about but that (1) MSM would rather not you hear about, and (2) many of us don’t have the time to research ourselves.

    And, of course, they change minds. I’d be lying if I said all that thinking didn’t make me grow.

  30. evil fizz
    November 5, 2006 at 10:08 am

    I believe that progressive blogs have helped people, myself included, become more aware of our privilege, where we have it.

    Yes! I think that one of the greatest things about the blogs that I read is how they’ve made me aware of all kinds of privilege. To give a personal example (because what is blogging without proof by anecdote?): my mother was granola hippie-type who ran a food co-op and a chapter of La Leche League when I was a kid. I was homeschooled when it was still just something hippies did, and my parents marched on Washington for the ERA. She’s now a Republican who listens to Rush Limbaugh and owns W ketchup. And it makes me so depressed, because she wants to talk to me about the value of hard work and making something of yourself, and the value of being a SAHM, etc.

    One of the best arguments I’ve martialed to argue with her is that to be able to talk about the value of being a SAHM or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is a position of enormous privilege. Being a SAHM is a fuckton easier when your husband makes plenty of money. Likewise, much easier to “work hard and succeed” when you’re white and have the benefit of a college education. That’s something I might have pulled together on my own, but I give the blogs I read credit for with helping me articulate it. I love being able to pull an argument from the blogs I read and actually use it to make some kind of change.

    Also, I credit Chris Clarke with making me understand the true value of self-referential irony and Amanda Marcotte with the value of fisking.

  31. Em
    November 5, 2006 at 10:18 am

    helping me articulate it.

    Very Yes. Whatever “it” happens to be.

  32. Caja
    November 5, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    What they all said (except the people who had total conversions via blogging, cause I started out a hairy-legged liberal feminist type). I’ve found that “helping me articulate” the issues personally very, very useful. As well, I post issues and arguments and etc. to my LJ (under a different username), which is read by a small group of people who, for the most part, I knew in meatspace before this whole blogging thing happened. Very few of the people who read my journal are really into politics, so my reading blogs and reposting stuff I find out here helps to educate them (for the most part, they’re also liberal types, so I’m not converting anyone). Some of them have thanked me for bringing those issues to their attention; some of them have cursed me for bringing the depressing issues to their attention. heh. So the effect of the big bloggers posting stuff is not limited to educating just their immediate readship.

    Maybe this is not a Big Victory for The Left, but I have to think that the cumulative effect of actions like this, and the overall educational value of blogs does, (becoming more aware of privilege, etc.), does amount to a Big Victory. It’s just not as immediately obvious and easy to measure as one of the instances where hundreds of people were inspired to write letters to one organization, and affect that organization’s behavior.

    And I absolutely would not discount the value of blogs providing a safe space for people to meet like-minded folks and discuss and learn from them, especially when your day-to-day meatspace life doesn’t provide that.

    “What has blogging accomplished?” “What has talking with people accomplished?”

  33. Em
    November 5, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    safe space

    That too. I sure as hell didn’t talk gender with real life people until way after I started talking about it online.

  34. piny
    November 5, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Damn it, Ilyka. I had a post on this all ready to go.

    What if blogging is the progressive/feminist version of the masculinist watercooler of envy?

  35. November 5, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    I had a post on this all ready to go.

    Post it! I wanna see! I wanna see!

  36. La Lubu
    November 5, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    Post it! I wanna see! I wanna see!

    Me too! Me too!

  37. evil fizz
    November 5, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Blog pile on! Post it, piny!

  38. twf
    November 5, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Reading feminist blogs, while not converting me from anything, has made me more solid and assertive in my feminism. And what others have said about community and formulating arguments and such.

    The other thing blogs have really helped me with is empathy, and looking at situations from the point of view of a wide variety of people. I don’t know any openly transgender people in real life, and while I knew they existed, I knew nothing about their concerns until I started reading piny. (Even if I did know a transman or transwoman in real life, I wouldn’t be intrusive enough to get all the knowledge I have from piny openly volunteering to share those aspects of his life). After that I sought out other blogs by transgendered people and read a variety of voices. I have a lot more knowledge and perspective on the issues affecting transpeople now. I’ve read blogs like A Little Pregnant and know a lot better how to behave around people encountering infertillity. I’ve read tons of blogs by those with very different life experiences than my own.

    Maybe I’ll be jumped on for this, but it didn’t occur to me until this Halloween and the related blogging that dressing up as another race was pretty much always offensive. I already understood the offense of blackface and the “chinese” mask with the buck teeth, but until recently wouldn’t have given a thought to someone dressing as a geisha girl or a hulu dancer. Heck, maybe I would have done it myself. I won’t now.

    I’m probably supposed to be focusing only on the left-wing blogs, but I’ve gotten a lot from a wide variety of people. My stereotype of evangelical Christians as ignorant, unthinking, and always right-wing have been blown away from reading thoughtful and informed blogs by evangelicals, some of whom are progressive, others of whom are conservative. Feminist Mormon housewives is another one that’s given me a perspective on religious people I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Ad infinitum. There is a blog on every topic out there, and every time I read one (I tend to get addicted to a blog for a few days and read every backpost) my prejudices are battered by the multi-faceted human being behind the words.

    And if that’s not concrete enough for you, blogs have been great fundraising tools. Maybe on a relatively small scale, but still effective. How many of us donated to abortion funds or directly to Biting Beaver after reading that she was having trouble raising the money for an abortion? Julie at A Little Pregnant has raised thousands of dollars to help a friend adopt a little girl who will soon be orphaned by raffling off a quilt. I’m sure there have been plenty more such projects that I haven’t stumbled across.

  39. November 5, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    (I have seen the episode. Piny, bring on the BSG thread! *grin*)

  40. November 5, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    Bloggers may tip the Virginia Senate race for Webb. Mike Stark of Calling All Wingnuts got national exposure for his two-time manhandling at Allen campaign events.

    Those videos are up on YouTube and being posted around the blogosphere.

    It was fascinating to see the shift in established media coverage between incident one and incident two.

    The first time the MSM referred to Stark as a “protester” and a “heckler” and totally bought the Allen campaign’s spin on the incident.

    Then a flood of blog-related sympathetic coverage ensued. The next time around, the narrative had shifted dramatically.

    It’s not the most important story in the world, but it’s the top story (as measured by Google News hits for “George Allen” today). So the Allen campaign is on the defensive and diverted from message.

    Of course, the blogosphere incubated the “Macaca” scandal, too. The blogs picked it up before the traditional media would touch it.

  41. Donna Darko
    November 5, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    What Has Blogging Really Accomplished?

    Come Tuesday, maybe saving this country and the world.

  42. Marksman2000
    November 5, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    I know what it’s done for me.

    I am now tolerant of liberals.

  43. November 5, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    One of the most important functions of blogging is news filtering. There’s a lot of good work being done in the traditional media, but it tends to get lost in the commercial/spin-driven shuffle. Most people never get beyond the front page, or the news summary at the top of the hour.

    Dedicated bloggers delve into the paper and highlight the stories that are most interesting to their readership. For example, the feminist blogosphere is very good at spotting stories about women’s issues and boosting their exposure. Recent examples include: the female genital mutilation trial, John Sweeney’s domestic abuse scandal, the Maryland rape decision, the Plan B/FDA debacle, etc. Reading feminist blogs makes you a much more informed feminist, viz current events, than most people would ever have time to be.

  44. Frumious B.
    November 5, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    Reading feminist blogs makes you a much more informed feminist, viz current events

    Why not just read the news? I read a lot of relevant stories in the news that I never see discussed on feminist blogs. Rarely do I see a story in a blog that I haven’t already read in the news, usually several days ago. In fact, one thing that bugs me about many blogs is the way the blogger links to another block for a given news story instead of linking to the actual story.

    Corollary to this discussion – what does commenting achieve?

  45. November 5, 2006 at 5:47 pm

    Why not just read the news?

    Because of what Lindsay said: Filtering. Not everyone has the time to read multiple newspapers every day — sites like Feministing manage to gather up much of the national news relevant to feminism and put it all in one place. That’s a huge service to people who may want to read about a certain topic, but don’t want to spend all day skimming every newspaper in the country.

  46. Louise
    November 5, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    Lubu, I wish ya lived closer- you’d be invited to EVERY HBO fight night, football game and would have free babysitting whenever you needed! You and kiddo are on my virtual Christmas fudge list forever…Bum Fuck Illinois sounds kinda like a town here in Maine.

    “Why not just read the news?…Corollary to this discussion- what does commenting achieve?”

    Irony?

  47. La Lubu
    November 5, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Thank you, Jill. I do read a lot of news sources, and believe in subscribing to alternative press sources, but it still takes awhile to get through all that. Skimming national online newspapers for news may make sense if your job consists of sitting behind a computer (and you have open break periods where you are allowed online access)—which mine doesn’t.

    I subscribe to a lot of magazines (Colorlines, Z Magazine, Labor Notes, etc.) that I would otherwise not have access to, since they aren’t carried on newsstands in Bum Fuck, Illinois. Colorlines was brought to my attention on the Hipmama boards—I picked up a copy in St. Louis, and have been subscribing ever since. Where would I have heard about it if not online?

    See, I think we discount the extent to which market segmentation has affected our lives. What started out being a way for companies to target consumers for their products has become, with the “deregulation” of media (read: selling of the public airwaves to the highest bidder), all-encompassing. We now have not just “stuff”, but art, politics—the “stuff of life” marketed to us this way. If you live in a fortunate zip code, you may not see it. I don’t live in a fortunate zip code. I have to fight like hell for access to music worth listening to, books and magazines worth reading, information on alternative, sustainable strategies for living—gaah! And no, we can’t all just up and move to those fortunate zip codes. There’s this little thing called “employment” that we have to pay attention to. Ain’t no looking a gift job in the mouth for me in this economy, y’kwim? Besides—our presence would just raise your rent, anyway.

    Commenting is discussion; no different from any other form of discussion. Again, if you have regular, in-depth conversations with other adults on socio-political topics, you may not see the value of a place like Feministe. I don’t get that opportunity often, and granted—I could probably never have that opportunity often enough!

  48. La Lubu
    November 5, 2006 at 6:37 pm

    Why, thank you, Louise! ;-)

    Is Maine really like it is described in the comic strip, Non Sequitur?

  49. November 5, 2006 at 6:40 pm

    Well, there are plenty of things like this (and many more) that go on in the blogosphere that do make a real, tangible difference.

    I’m about as far from an apologist from blogging as one can get–generally, I can’t stand “the blogosphere” (I don’t even like the word!) but there are things like the above that make me stick around.

  50. November 5, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    I can’t believe someone actually named a town “Bum Fuck, Illinois” (although there seems to be at least one if every state). I guess those pioneers were a lot kinkier than they taught us in school.

  51. November 5, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    Blogs cleared up my skin, make me a better love in 10 days, and cured me of the drink.

  52. Louise
    November 5, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    It has its moments! I’m native and moved away first to Boston, then Amherst, Austin, Baltimore, and returned 10+ years. What I find hilarious is the image some folks I’ve met have had about the “glamour” of Maine, then I remind myself that they were never dragged out of bed at 2am to help gut a deer freshly hit by a car.(hey, that’s food for the freezer for next winter…) Vs. my husband’s idea of “roughing it” is a hotel without room service or more than 60 cable channels. He has a bemused relationship with his in-laws, who view him equally odd but nice.

    So see? Blogging accomplishes, in this one case, 2 gals who both have kids and love boxing to meet online and become friends, while also exchanging ideas and thoughts on a myraid of topics. And it’s not just “gossip” like here, but I have learned ALOT from La Lubu et al.

    My husband was a TV newsman in the Army who, during the Gulf War in 1990-1, showed me a powerful example of why more than news source was needed by flipping through the channels as the suits delivered the news. NO TWO REPORTS WERE THE SAME and even contradicted each other in some cases. The political agendas were not as openly biased as they are now (in my opinion), but that wasn’t the norm 15 years ago.

  53. Louise
    November 5, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    Heraclitus, when I stop laughing, you’re on the fudge list, too!

  54. evil fizz
    November 5, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    I have been wondering for hours why Lubu keeps talking about Burn Fuck. I am one illiterate blogger some days.

  55. November 5, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    I hear it’s lovely there this time of year.

  56. La Lubu
    November 5, 2006 at 7:16 pm

    Bum Fuck is just up the road apiece from Armpit, Illinois. A short drive from Right in the Middle of Nowhere, and within a half hour of the Boondocks.

  57. November 5, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    That said, Mike the Mad Biologist has a very important point. I think a lot of bloggers get dismayed when we realize that in sheer numbers, we’re not getting anything like the audience the MSM gets. However, the critical issue is that small as our audience is, a huge proportion of readers are journalists, op-ed writers and other folks like that who do have the big influence.

    And we do influence them. There’s almost no doubt in my mind that the way that Salon drifted away from the pseudo-hip retro-sexist liberalism towards a much more feminist viewpoint was the feminists on staff were emboldened by the blogs. They were able to point to the feminist blogosphere and make the case that there was an audience for this kind of writing. They started their own feminist blog. This is the most obvious example, but it’s a tendency that I’m seeing more and more of. Journalists actually live in something of a vaccum when it comes to the man on the street opinion, so they are very open to what the blogs provide, which is that perspective they’re not getting.

  58. naiad
    November 5, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    A year ago, I would have told people I was a conservative and not a feminist. When I started questioning my stance on various issues, reading feminist blogs was a safe way for me to quietly explore these new ideas and be taught in a non condescending manner about the sort of things feminists believe in relation to current issues.

    I’m now happy to identify myself as a feminist, almost entirely thanks to what I’ve read here and at pandagon and feministe.

  59. naiad
    November 5, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    oops, I meant at pandagon and feministing =)

  60. Louise
    November 5, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    Yes, Amanda, the current audience is small, but blogging IS on the rise. A huge advantage to blogging and in part why it will continue to gain is the ability of the hosts to create interest by expressing themselves on others’ blogs without it being competition for an audience. (Geez, would my old grammar teacher have a BLAST having me dissect THAT mess on the chalkboard…)

    How often do you see an anchor comment openly as a guest on another channel’s shows? Closest TV has would be on “The Daily Show”. And newspapers? They KNOW that they are mere sales figures’ away from being set aside. Very tight, competetive markets.

    Similar to the old game “Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, alot of folks who started in one place later end up on the same blog, sharing their information, insights and even rants. It blows “channel surfing” out of the water.

    (And yeah- Maine IS beautiful. I have, honestly, a waterfall right across the road from our old farmhouse where I walk my dog every day- a dam created in the 1930’s to control water levels on a large stream between 2 connecting lakes. The sound is therapeutic beyond measure. And the neighborhood stray cat, a remarkably scruffy and unkempt Maine coon cat/ black long hair mix usually tags along for walkies.)

  61. November 5, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    Blogs are a kind of political capacitor.

  62. November 5, 2006 at 9:20 pm

    Blogging gives people more of a voice. It’s a microcosm of democracy, and I think progressives help emphasize that. You put information out there in the tubes of the internet, the tubes shift around a little bit, and someone reads it and learns a little something more about an issue and about you. The popularity of some blogs helps information circulate more readily around the world, but there’s no denying that blogs are empowering. Blogs and their popularity can highlight the importance and the difficulties of unpacking an issue. Blogs can bring out the best and worst of people. They also promote a hyperconsciousness — blogs don’t claim to be universal arbiters of truth. Blogs promote informed opinions for those who wish to develop them.

  63. November 5, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    sylviasrevenge, I’m kind of thinking of the informed-consent model for medicine as a metaphor for the last bit you’re saying. Blogs as media trust us to be able to read multiple differing opinions or filters on the news and triangulate between perspectives. They trust us to come in with some information, to come out with some information, and decide whether or not we want to stick around and keep tuning in.

  64. kate
    November 5, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    I agree with a lot of what’s been written, but have to put in my additional comments. First off, I know of that which Lalubu speaks. I live in a famously conservative, mostly white, small conservative state. I don’t identify with the culture here, but here I am none the less. As a single mother most of my adult life, I have been alone more than not. Now in my forties, with my kids grown, I’ve gotten to like my aloneness and see it as independence. All the same, the time I spent organizing about ten years ago for about four years made me very cynical about the direction and intention of the classic liberal, democratic core. They didn’t speak to my needs or see them as important. So the isolation just isn’t a matter of geographics, its a matter of class. I dropped out of activism when Clinton signed the welfare Deform act. I just couldn’t pretend that these people were on my side, or give them my support and assistance.

    Anyway, I isolated and gave up on politics, concluding it a worthless disappointment and hoping to find myself wrong someday and be re-energized and hopeful. Enter the blogs. Bored one night, I typed in ‘feminism’ in Google and found this blog, I have since linked to many others that I view and comment to on regular basis.

    I now can confirm that I am no longer alone and also can share my story to other like minded people and gain confidence and assurance of my own voice. That is very important. Now, I speak out and against, I disagree where before I wouldn’t have, thinking my views ‘out there’ or just damn wrong. I also have been corrected and upbraided on blogs and thus have learned to be a better thinker.

    Also, blogs cross class lines. People who proably would never cross my path on the regular social/class sphere of America listen to me, I speak to them, we learn from eachother.

    #25 Dr. Dann:

    So the fact four people have testified to moving a considerable distance from their original belief indicates that the medium creates an opportunity for change.That’s one more place, one more aspect than if we lack blogs entirely, so it matters as a means of social change over the long term.
    Opening the game to more players and persuaders is an achievement. How well those persuaders do their job is a separate issue from how well blogging serves as a medium for communicating alternate views.

    Most definitely. When I organized welfare mothers like myself, I had to search them out and bring them in, encourage them to feel a part of the process. How? By educating, by opening up dialogue and teaching. Do you know how many women didn’t even know how to vote? How many didn’t believe that they could go up to the State House anyday of the week and talk to their rep? Do you know how many never formulated any kind of political opinion because they didn’t see that it would make any difference for them?

    Or is anyone really so risibly naive and cornpone as to think that when people “take to the streets” modern governments are somehow cowed by the display of “people power?”

    I am. Listen up. The Million Man March scared the living bejesus out of most white people, it was Big News for quite a while. That nothing really happened was the Next Big News as the Black Revolution was feared any minute now and the take-down of all of white America, etc. etc.

    Might I also add that we did indeed protest during the nineties and although our groups were small it acheived some real purpose, one of which was to energize people who’ve always assumed the politicos were untouchable, unreachable kings on the throne. To have the right to heckle, shout at and question a pol is an America right and one not exercised quite enough.

    I remember when we decided to follow all the pols that came to the state for fundraisers; once a group of ten rowdy women got Phil Gramm to have his limo veer over to a rear entrance because he didn’t want to deal with us. I remember Spector had a ready-made ‘Why I’m Pro-Choice’ board spread out for us even though our issue wasn’t about choice. He came over and shook our hands and wished us well. Women who’ve never been closer to politics than the ABC news were changed, they saw the world and their role in it differently.

    Protesting also solidifies a movement, brings the people together. First words, thoughts which bring on analysis, critical thinking and then brainstorming. Only then will action take place and yes, action will often mean (I hope will still) having the chutzpa to get up and get out. Possibly those who view protesting as a waste of time, just aren’t feeling alienated and pissed off enough. Hearing pols on a daily basis call women like me sluts and whores lit a fire under my ass, maybe you just haven’t had such a kick in the pants?

    Why not just read the news?… Corollary to this discussion – what does commenting achieve?

    I think the question about commenting has been answered already by the comments themselves.

    As for reading the news, as some have said here and I reiterate, not all of us have the luxury of the time to sit for hours and scan the finest (ch-ching) newspapers in the land for the finest news.

    Also, I have read around that many blogs have been picked over by the MSM for news material and some bloggers, who are professional writers, have suffered downright plagerism. So, I hardly think that one can claim blogs to be a vaccum by any sense. Most news, whether written or broadcast is barely worth the trouble of reading, unless one has time to filter through it for the real story, or has the funds to purchase better news sources. I have neither and prefer to scan blogs and other sources online for my news.

    Bum Fuck is just up the road apiece from Armpit, Illinois. A short drive from Right in the Middle of Nowhere, and within a half hour of the Boondocks.

    I was born in St. Louis and grew up in Alton Illinois, just right of East Bum Fuck. I haven’t gotten too far though as I now reside in the northerly sister of East Bum Fuck. Thank god I can cross the border and enter a slightly improved demographic, which is a relief, save from the occasional Masshole.

  65. Julie
    November 5, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    Can I add another “conversion” story? I was raised in a conservative, fundie household and was never really exposed to other beliefs. I went to a fairly progressive college, but I was married so I lived off campus and I stuck to my psych classes. Then I moved back to my rural hometown in one of the few counties that GWB won in NY. I started at bush vs. choice as the resident argumentative anti-abortion person, then started reading feministing, then found feministe and bitch phd (my two favorite blogs) and the conversion process began. Jill, Lauren and Dr.B were hugely influential in my looking at things in a different light, and as such there are two people (myself and my husband) who are voting democrat across the board on Tuesday who have in the past voted Republican. In addition, I volunteered for an hour at the Democratic headquarters tonight getting the vote out for our Congressional race (it’s ridiculously close, and the incumbent Republican is retiring). Aside from that, blogs have been influential in helping me to flesh out my beliefs in a safe space with knowledgeable (sp?) feminists. The community has been a huge thing as well, especially surrounded by my VERY right wing family on a daily basis. It’s nice to know I have someplace where I can go and “talk” to sane, progressive people.

  66. November 6, 2006 at 12:58 am

    This whole thread has been uplifting and amazing. I feel simultaneously: 1) less alone and 2) humbled.

    I am a slightly sensitive plant when it comes to the News: It really is, all the time, THe BAD news, and I have tended to tune it OUT much of the time to fight back against debilitating depression. (I have NEVER failed to VOTE, but keeping abreast of the Bad News is exhausting!). Enter Blogs. FOR SOME REASON I can read the same bad news, but throught the filter of Chris Clarke or Twisty or Amanda or Shakes MIND, I can TAKE it. THe despair factor is taken out, for me somehow, by the sense of community in outrage.

    (Have any of you heard the expression B.F.E.? It means Bum Fuck Egypt, which in rural places is another expression for Middle of Nowhere. I don’t know how exactly Egypt was selected for this honor…..)

    I have been a feminist all my life (well since 13) but the Feminist Blogs have made me feel like less of a fucking ANACHRONISM. Seriously, before I discovered blogs (like in FEBRUARY!) I thought I was just about the single most alone old fat broad Feminist left. I didn’t even KNOW there was a third wave happening.

    People are social animals, and I have seen several LIBERAL (Punk Rock Leftist) friends be influenced by the zeitgeist into more conservative thinking in the last ten years, as in STOPPING calling themselves Liberals, and BS like that. I THINK the blogosphere can help change the discourse, move the discussion leftward once again. People ARE infulenced by the people around them, and we can BE these people, we can BE the influencers.

  67. November 6, 2006 at 1:28 am

    I’m sitting at an office in a country where women are still expected to stop working for a bit while they raise the kids and the men don’t make coffee. If I didn’t have feminist blogs to read and reassure me that there are still people like me out there, I’d slouch around in a state of permanent patriarchy-induced fog.

    In addition to the other great points made here – blogging is also really good for the blogs’ writer. Over my six years of writing online, I’ve not only significantly improved my style, but I’ve made great friends, kept up with friends I already had and learned how to argue without vacilitation and with justification.

    Even if it was just for me, it was worth it.

  68. November 6, 2006 at 1:29 am

    Although, apparently, I still can’t spell.

  69. November 6, 2006 at 5:20 am

    Although, apparently, I still can’t spell.

    As far as I’m concerned, you can spell words however you like if you blog at girl-wonder.org. Thank you for reminding me to subscribe to Girls Read Comics And They’re Pissed. Done! (And here’s the link for anyone else who’s been meaning-but-forgetting to do that.)

    I will cease squeeing now.

  70. Louise
    November 6, 2006 at 6:57 am

    Ilkya, I am NEVER gonna have a “Battle of Wits” with you- I’m unarmed by comparison! Great joke! It didn’t hit me until after the evening here had settled down (the typical last-minute late Sunday getting kids ready for school next day) and I had a Homer Simpsonesque “DOH!” moment… I gotta make a double or triple batch of vitual fudge!

    While I am devoted to seeking out the news stories as much as I can, there are days when I just shut it off, walk to the dam with my coffee, and reflect. Too easy to have your head explode sometimes. Blogs help me fill in the gaps and put the talking head stories into proper perspective.

  71. La Lubu
    November 6, 2006 at 7:08 am

    Also, blogs cross class lines. People who proably would never cross my path on the regular social/class sphere of America listen to me, I speak to them, we learn from each other.

    Yes indeed.

    kate, around a decade ago I worked a job at the powerhouse in Portage, and I stayed in Alton. I called my mom to let her know what was goin on, where I was if she couldn’t reach me (this was before cell phones were affordable!), and she said, “Alton? You’re staying in Alton?! Does is still smell like pot? Every time I think of Alton, I think of pot. The whole town smelled like pot.” “No ma, Alton didn’t smell like pot. You and Dad smelled like pot.” “Oh. (giggle) Maybe that wazzit.”

    St. Louis is (IBEW) Local 1. When you work there, the local hands say you’ve “come home to Mother”—the Mother Local.

  72. November 6, 2006 at 11:25 am

    Blogging has made me a feminist. I barely knew what the word meant and thought it was a concept well out of my reach. It’s also made me realise I’m not stupid, and on that note I’m now hoping to go to college.

    It makes me roll my eyes some when older feminists complain that younger feminists aren’t doing enough – blogging when they should be out there. They’re doing, they’re doing. I’m proof.

  73. Sally
    November 6, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Why not just read the news?

    I think one of the really major developments of the past ten or so years has been a new awareness of the politics of how the news is reported. It’s not enough just to read the news: we now realize that we have to think about the assumptions and biases built into the way that the news is presented to us. And I think that blogs have been a big part of that process. (So has the satirical media, like the Onion and the Daily Show/ Colbert axis.) The best blogs don’t just link to a story and say “lookit! A story!” The best blogs link to a story and say “you know, a better way to think about this would be….” or “why is it that we’re being told this is a story about this, when really it’s a story about that?” I have become much better at recognizing certain problematic media patterns, such as faux “balance” or the tendency to frame every issue relating to women as a catfight, thanks to reading blogs. I’ve always been a media junkie, but I’ve become a much more critical consumer of the mainstream media.

    Another way of saying this is to say that blogs are really good at challenging the media’s conventional wisdom. It’s true that there’s a danger of them developing their own conventional wisdom, but I think they’re still valuable, because they add additional voices to the discussion.

    Having said that, I have an extremely bad feeling about this election, and I’m starting to think that it’s not such a good thing that the smartest and most politically-active young American progressives are blogging rather than getting into mainstream politics. Republicans have a huge advantage when it comes to turnout, in part because they have such effective local, face-to-face networks. Are we blogging at the expense of local organizing? Does anonymity, of readers more than bloggers, get in the way of using blogging as an organizing tool? (I’m pretty sure that there are people reading this who live in my neighborhood, but I don’t know who they are, so I won’t be able to knock on their doors at six tomorrow and remind them to go to the polls. And it’s a whole hell of a lot less annoying when someone you know does that then when they bus in some self-righteous college student to harass you about whether you’ve voted yet. That’s why churches are so effective: they create personal relationships that political organizations can use.) What can we do to use blogging to enhance, rather than replace, the face-to-face stuff?

    Maybe I’ll feel differently if the Democrats manage to win anything tomorrow, but right now I feel like our key challenge is organization rather than message. That’s partly because we’ve been doing a much better job getting out our message, but if you don’t have the other thing, you’re still screwed. So I think we need to think about what we can do on the organizing side of things.

    (And no, I don’t know why I’m suddenly so Democrat-identified. I’m actually voting Green in at least one close race, but it’s nothing with any national implications. Nationally, I’m voting for whichever non-Republican has the best chance of winning. Which is not a great rallying cry, I know.)

  74. November 6, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Normative social constructions, baby. That’s our project.

  75. ninjanurse
    November 6, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Citizen journalists.

  76. kate
    November 6, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    Blogging has made me a feminist. I barely knew what the word meant and thought it was a concept well out of my reach. It’s also made me realise I’m not stupid, and on that note I’m now hoping to go to college.

    Alright! Congratulations! That’s what I live to hear! Damn, reading that just made my night. I live to hear that. Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop. Woo!

    Tell me blogs don’t have power, tell me community doesn’t have power, tell me people can’t come together and make change. Yeah and the others who said they’ve been changed by the interchange and the exchange. I’m like all bleary eyed.

    Citizen journalists.

    Community.

    Every time I think of Alton, I think of pot. The whole town smelled like pot.” “No ma, Alton didn’t smell like pot. You and Dad smelled like pot.” “Oh. (giggle) Maybe that wazzit.”

    Was that in the late seventies? Because that’s when I was in junior high school in Alton and all I did was smoke pot, lots of it. Too much of it.

    St. Louis is (IBEW) Local 1. When you work there, the local hands say you’ve “come home to Mother”—the Mother Local.

    Its too late for me to come home to mother, much too late. But I am going down to Alton for T.G> day this year for the first time in years, to show off all my beautiful grown chilluns.

  77. Rae
    November 7, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Blogging has changed the way that I share my life, my views, and informatio. It’s a great bulletin board, archive of stuff I create (writing, photos & video), gather, and want to disseminate (I hate mass emailing folks more than a link), and a central meeting point of ideas through comments. It’s also such an easy tool that I can do it most days without much time or energy.

    Blogging has really enhanced how I teach. I use blogs to build community amongst students, they can discuss issues or answer post prompts and must be accountable for what they say (we use ground rules like no personal attacks, racist or sexist comments), connect with students beyond classroom, point them to resources (like news items, weblinks, etc) really easily, is a great place to archive their “stuff” (so I give one copy only and they go to the blog if they need to print again). My students also use blogs to “meet” as a group. They post prompts, links to articles or news items and find it really effective in brainstorming ideas.

    I also can’t imagine my life without blogs – reading news, watching vlog posts, seeing what others are thinking, talking and connecting about, and finding things that I would have otherwise missed.

    Connect with me @:
    My blog – Rae’s Spot or view my current course blog – Feminist Media Studies & Former course blog – Third-wave Feminism/Activism

  78. Louise
    November 7, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/situation.room/blog/

    Blogging was NEVER a part of any election night coverage in the past- the importance of blog voices is being acknowledged in such a big way now. It gives individuals a voice- a forum. In the past, our only voice was our vote.

Comments are closed.