Sunday, 18 June 2006

Get a Blog

Jim Schembri has written another curiously content-free article about blogging, and The Age has printed it. This new piece says, in the same wearying and shouty undergraduate satire mode, that all those who shrugged their shoulders at Mr Schembri's first effort missed his meaning, through their own inability to read his piece properly.

Are there any good blogs out there? Oh, for heaven's sake, of course there are. Anyone who took the article as a wholesale dismissal of blogs suffers from a problem too common among bloggers — they can't read. To them, a bad TV review means the author believes the invention of television was a mistake.

This is nonsense. If a piece of writing is clear and articulate it will be understood. If the intended meaning fails to communicate, that is primarily the fault of the writer. Workman, tools, etc.

Mr Schembri is finding out what bloggers who allow comments or check who's linking to them have already learned - readers are neither passive nor are they stupid. They know when they're being condescended to, and when they're being served with garbage. If you're going to survive as a writer, professionally and psychologically, in this changed environment, you will have to come to terms with the conditions of open-access feedback. If you're any good, you'll learn from the experience and thrive off it.

Although both articles are needlessly hostile, I have some sympathy for Mr Schembri when I think about how he'd have felt reading bloggers' responses to the first one. Many of us have been shocked and felt unhappy when someone has "misread" us or when some sleeping dog we've thoughtlessly poked has prodded us back. In a way it's his misfortune that he's working in a medium that's inimical to the evolution and refinement of individual perspectives based on interaction and interchange with other people. And it's unlucky for him that hundreds of thousands of readers will witness his dummy-spit. Still, he's a grown-up, and many of his colleagues seem to get along without indulging in this kind of thing.

I gather from the second instalment that Schembri regards pseudonymous bloggers as cowardly, so I will just point out that my real name is no secret and can be found by anybody who bothers to look.


Another Outspoken Female said...

Me thinks the man protests too much.

R H said...

The deceit and arrogance of bloggers are its weakness. Some bloggers will censor you just for contradicting them. How stupid. If anyone could give me a good reason why I got 'moderated' at that sars blog I'd be astonished, because it's the biggest joke yet. I'd never return there, not for anything; no apology would be enough. It's just too damn stupid.

Anonymous said...

Hey now, be fair, he started his career at TV Week and New Idea, he's moving up in the world.

Galaxy said...

Schembri may not be talking about you Laura, after all, you know who Clive James is, even if you don't agree with him.

He's definitely not talking about Tim Sterne, who is obviously very witty and intelligent.

He may be talking about me when he has a go a pseudonymous bloggers, but that's okay,I am a chicken.

I wonder who he's referring to when speakng about those who 'champion themselves as paragons of free speech while practising the ethics of obscene phone callers'. Any ideas, RH?

R H said...

Obscene phone callers are always anonymous.

I'm not anonymous, neither is Laura, Brownie, Sterne, Jahteh, His Excellency, and a few others.

You're anonymous. So what do you think, is it co-incidence that bloggers using their real names are the best bloggers; the only bloggers worth listening to?

But tell me my ethics; say how much you really hate me. Spit it out, I'd like to know. Meanwhile, if you want your words taken seriously, put your name to them.

Lucy Tartan said...

That'll do. I really don't like it when people use the facilities here to insult each other.

Why can't we all just get along? What we need is a great big melting pot. Etc.

R H said...

Yes well maybe saying that RH has the ethics of an obscene phone caller is a compliment. If so, I'm sorry, and thanks very much.


Kate said...

My opinion on Schembri is same as the last time. He doesn't get it, and he won't anytime soon.

Jon said...

Schembri is right in as much as there are potentially many pertinent criticisms that can be levelled at the blogs. It's just a shame that his own efforts here - as in the majority of his reviews and critiques - indulge so liberally in the vices he rails against, namely poorly conceived arguments with little internal coherency and facile content.

Helen said...

I like the way he spends the first half of the article setting up a riff on how bad bloggers' spelling is, then at the end we get " parapharse Clive James..." (from him, that is).

People with glass arses shouldn't throw stones, eh...

Ben.H said...

Wow. Do all legitimate journalists like Schembri, if that is his real name, get all pissy when asked to defend his opinion and be held accountable for what he writes?

Lucy Tartan said...

Ben - no, not all.

I rather like being acronymised as a RA (rank amateur), actually.

R H said...

ben.h's comments are always interesting. And accurate.

But what if Mr Schembri wrote like this: "stereotypical asymmetrical gender dichotomy..."

And this: "And by mustering the epistemological strategies of the university etc, aren’t you producing the popular text as antithetical to the object you claim to be representing?”

What's it mean?

I've no idea, but it's lifted from a blog posting - on a 'cultural' site, and I'll tell you what, it is one of the worst pieces of monkey chatter I've ever seen.

Do people actually communicate like this?

As far as language goes, it's dead. A corpse. Because if you have to go over something four or five times and still can't understand it, then it's humbug. A disgrace.

But what can you expect when form is made more important than meaning. You can expect bullshit, that's all. Snobbery and naivete, from a few fools trying to impress one another.

It takes effort to be incomprehensible. And very little to be clear, and understood. That's what language is for.

Jellyfish said...

If you want a good laugh, read one of Schembri's contributions to the world of children's literature.

This comment was humbly posted by a Rank Amateur.