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June 5, 2004

Bloggers at the Democratic Convention

The Democratic Party has decided to issue press credentials (requires registration) to a few carefully selected bloggers for this year's Democratic Convention in Boston. My first thought? Ooh, pick me, I'm ever so smart! Of course, my humble blog doesn't attract nearly enough traffic to warrant an invitation, but it's a really cool concept.

It's a fairly generous article, especially given the mainstream news media's suspicions about blogging (it's not real journalism, it's too partisan, yadda yadda). The article, echoing a comment by Eric Schnure, compares bloggers to the pamhpleteers during the American Revolution:

In colonial America, the politically active spread their ideas in pamphlets still fresh from the printing press. Today's pamphleteers — the "bloggers" who can put every idle thought on the Web — are being invited to the Democratic National Convention.

"You've been doing it ever since the Revolutionary War," Eric Schnure, a former speech writer for Vice President Al Gore and the official 2004 DNC blogger, wrote in a pitch for the party's Web log, or blog. "Dumping tea and deleting spam. They're kind of the same, don't you think?"

This comparison has been coming up a lot lately. During a recent Democratic MeetUp, one of the participants compared our email lists to "Committees of Correspondence," the politically engaged colonists who copied letters to several friends who would then copy and send the letter to several others.

It's also a recognition that Howard Dean's Internet campaign was very successful in getting people, especially disaffected voters, involved in the political process again, a point raised by Alex Halavais:

"They're just trying to pick up on what they seemed to have lost with Dean," said Alex Halavais, an assistant professor at the University of Buffalo's School of Informatics. "There was a luster associated with the Dean campaign — the luster of the grass roots — that Kerry hasn't quite managed to pick up on."
Even though I won't get picked, I'm enthusiastic about this decision and what it communicates about the role of blogging in the political world.

In other news, in a shameless attempt at self-promotion, I submitted my blog to the AJC, which has now linked to me on their opinion page. For whatever reason, the AJC has really embraced the whole blogging phenomenon lately, and that includes highlighting a few community bloggers. Here's the strange par. Even though I haven't seen a major bump in readership, I think having that link has changed how I've written over the last few days, making me a little more self-conscious about what and how I write. It's also made me feel obligated to write something every day. I'm not quite sure what that says about my relationship to old media.

Posted by chuck at June 5, 2004 11:37 AM

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I've had a difficult time figuring out how to write on my blog because imagining the audience is very difficult. One the one hand I'm writing to 3 or 4 friends who I know very well. On the other, there are students now reading it (well in the summer I'm sure they're not) and also other people in the field and even other colleagues at my institution. I've tried to stick to my original 3-4 immedaite colleagues as an audience but as I found out these other people were also reading I became a bit more tentative, which is probably good. If Washingtoniene taught us anything it is that we cannot have a blog and imagine it is only for your friends.

Posted by: B at June 5, 2004 4:30 PM

There was a great discussion about audience last winter at Invisible Adjunct, in which someone pointed out that job committees often Google their top candidates. That certainly made me a little more self-conscious. I didn't delete anything, but I was careful about anything new that I wrote. I've also had people I've mentioned (cultural studies scholar, Imre Szeman, for example) find themselves in my blog while doing a Google search, but my attention to audience seems to vary. With the Atlanta Journal-Constitution link, I feel like I should be more pundit-like. During teh job search, I felt I should present my scholarly self...

In terms of an identifiable audience, I'm not really sure who is reading beyond people who have linked me (or comment regularly). I'd imagine that a few students are/were reading, but few of my colleagues have mentioned reading it, and none have really commented recently. That's what I like about blogging, though. It allows me to move between all of these audiences depending on my current mood/interests.

Posted by: chuck at June 5, 2004 8:11 PM

Chuck! You sound like you're going commercial on us. I hope this doesn't mean you won't drop an F-bomb here and there if the occasion permits. Because you know I like my F-bombs.

Posted by: Rusty at June 6, 2004 12:50 AM

I'm just trying to work inside the system. I think it's just a temporoary thing where I've become more aware of my audience. It'll pass, and then I'll be back to my subversive self in no time...

Posted by: chuck at June 6, 2004 12:03 PM

There should be a saracsm tag after the first sentence of my last comment, but my comments system read it as actual HTML.

Posted by: chuck at June 6, 2004 12:04 PM

Lets see if this works: > sarcasm <

Posted by: Rusty at June 6, 2004 1:59 PM

Ha! It worked. Other than me getting my greater-than less-than tags mixed up...

Just enter &lt; for a less-than tag (<), and &gt; for greater-than (>).

Posted by: Rusty at June 6, 2004 2:02 PM

Cool, thanks!

Posted by: chuck at June 6, 2004 4:31 PM

That quote was one of those "did I say that" quotes. I'm sure I did, but it isn't the quote I'd have chosen. Or, if I did, I wouldn't have included the "just" :).

Posted by: Alex at June 6, 2004 4:42 PM

Every time I've been quoted in the paper, I've had that reaction. I did wonder about the "just," but guessed that it might have been taken out of context or simply was misrepresentative.

I've been checking out your Scholarati rankings--I'm actually a little surprised that I'm ranked so high. Cool project, though.

Posted by: chuck at June 6, 2004 4:51 PM

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