I see blogging as the cyber equivalent of the role of host in the medieval ale house. Long before the advent of licensing regulations, the ale house was a private house, a place to gather in congenial company and exchange gossip and opinion. Customers made their choice of venue dependent on whether the host was interested in the latest results of ‘kick the pig’s bladder’ or the sexual proclivities of the Lord of the Manor. If customers became overly rowdy and aggressive, or perhaps had eyes that were fractionally too close together for his taste, the host reserved the right to unceremoniously toss them out of the door.
His house, his rules, his choice of conversation.
There are a number of different conversations going on in the blogosphere today concerning the rise of the independent blogger, whether they represent a threat, and to whom. Andy Burnham MP wants to put in place a system whereby some content, and by extension, some blogs, would not be available for general view. Where children are concerned that is fair comment, and it is right that children are excluded from the ale house these days. The suggestion that bloggers should be regulated as to their choice of conversation has created a firestorm of comment on the Internet and begs the question of why they should be seen as such a threat?
Professional writers are feeling threatened by the blogosphere, they have to fight to be heard alongside those of us afflicted with the Grocer’s apostrophe. It was their choice though, to enter the blogosphere. They already had their own closed shop where they effectively controlled the written conversation.
Yesterday I was invited to post a guest piece on Old Holborn’s riotous blog; it elicited a hilariously misspelt response denouncing my own ignorance of punctuation and grammar (I admit, I am useless and eternally grateful to my very own ‘apostrophe policewoman’ and her daily e-mails!), whilst admiring the:
‘sheer nerve it takes to share this drivel with others, as though it had merit, purpose, vitality, originality’
This suggests that there are cyberpeople within the blogosphere who wish to confine the right to blog to those professionally trained in the art of written communication, surely the philosophical equivalent of wanting to confine speech to the professional orator.
I have sympathy with some journalists such as the inimitable Guido who have chosen a blog as a way of highlighting political events that the Lords of the Media preferred to keep quiet; Jay Rosen had an interesting theory which I wrote about discussing how and why journalists exclude some voices. It fails to explain the current moves to exclude some voices from the blogosphere.
Could it be that having entered the cyber world, politicians and their slave journalists dislike the ease with which their own voice can be lost in the madding crowd?
Kerry McCarthy MP, muses on his blog
I do wonder though – as more and more people start blogging, will it destroy the sense of a blogging community, as it gets more and more fragmented between lots and lots of sites? Will people hop around more from one site to another, and become ever more promiscuous with their affection, or will it be like newspapers and magazines – they stick to their regulars and only occasionally take a peek at something else? And will it eventually get to the point where newspapers comment columns are redundant because whatever they want to say, it’s already been said before and said better somewhere in the blogosphere?
Which ties in neatly with a piece I found here– it seems that the Falmouth University College is posing the same question to Media students. I trust they will blog on the results of their project, I would be genuinely interested to learn of the views of those just entering the professional writing world with an inbuilt understanding of social media – do they feel threatened and offended by sharing a space with the grammatically unwashed?
Even the best bloggers only report from within their own circle of interests, my view is that newspapers will survive as a genre of ‘public broadcasting’, and so will continue to require the rigorous training and writing ability expected at present; bloggers will continue to strike up conversations of interest to them and those around them in a cacophony of regional accents and patois.