Friday, July 18, 2008


Two guys at found my "rant" interesting enough to talk about for seven minutes. I don't think they really got my point.

First of all, I don't live in the southwest (but in Oregon) and I don't cover the southwestern water beat (I generalize among the physical and environmental sciences).

Anyway, I agree that there are some valuable blog posts out there, covering things that would otherwise be ignored by the MSM. I just don't see them coming from fishbowl blogs like Matthew Yglesias or Andrew Sullivan or Instapundit or anyone who feels compelled to post 35 times a day. They're so worried about the next post and bringing traffic to their sites that they hardly focus on their current post.

These posts too often lack depth, and they go into my brain and immediately bounce back out like a light beam off a mirror. It's like spending all day watching Good Morning America -- sure, once in a while they point to an interesting thing or two, but overall it's a big waste of time.

If, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, television is chewing gum for the eyes, then the blogosphere is increasingly chewing gum for the brain. Which is too bad.

With nothing learned or enjoyed, it's just a waste of time, and they're all little wastes of time but they add up to minutes and hours. They could easily add up to your whole day if you let it--you know exactly what I mean. Is this what 21st century life is going to be -- pinging back and forth between blogs, gossiping about every belch that comes out of John McCain's sixth-in-line advisor, checking the headlines 8 times a day, dissembling what Chris Matthews said this morning or enraged at something stupid Jonah Goldberg wrote on The Corner? This isn't healthy, physically or intellectually, or individuals or for society. Is this really how I should spend my latest half-hour, or should I read a paper from Science, polish the latest draft of a manuscript, or take a walk along the Williamette?

The world has never been more complicated and we've never needed to understand so many issues in so much depth. This medium is the answer. And yet more and more of the Web, and especially the blogosphere, seems to take us away from that depth and offers us tidbit for the microsecond. Yes, there are always a few good posts out there amidst the billions, some by smart and thoughtful writers with unique talents, many by educated specialists who want to share their work and their field, things that might even change the patina of your day. I'm going to focus on what I can learn there, and stop caring what Matthew Yglesias thinks of OpenLeft's latest quip about Instapundit's "heh" placed after today's 16-word anecdote disproving anthropogenic global warming.

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