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Monday, September 20, 2004

Changing my stripes

I consider myself a journaler and not a blogger. Granted I often use the terms interchangeably or smooshed together, but there is a difference (at least in my limited experience).

Journalers use their little corner of the web to put forth original ideas and commentary. These can be short, pithy asides or long, developed opinions and/or stories.

Bloggers, on the other hand, seem to be the worker bees of the web... cross pollinating various journaler's (and other compelling web content's) audiences by 'blogging' lots of links, as well as opinions about said links... broadcasting to the online world, "Go over there! There is something over there that is well worth your time and consideration!"

I make this distinction without any preference or prejudice. Both are interesting to me, and both are necessary to one another. In fact, one might view the blogging/journaling communities as one big dinner party (yes, I'm still onto that theme from yesterday).

At a nice dinner party, journaler-type people trot out their best stories and most compelling gossip to share with whoever is sitting beside or across from them. The buzz of conversation is fairly localized, and once the party fragments into little clusters for dessert and drinks, these journalers of the group get an opportunity to retell their best stories/gossip to those who were not seated near them earlier... while the blogger-type folks flit from group-to-group sharing delicious highlights of the stories, pointing out the source for anyone who wants to find out more.

However, a great dinner party (in my humble opinion) is like a well organized, but unstable element throughout it's brief half-life. The role of nucleus/positive focus of conversation shifts naturally from speaker-to-speaker, and the gravitational pull of that speaker holds most, if not all of the group's attention. Such parties are rare, and are almost always the result of careful planning (who to invite... where to seat everyone) on the part of the host. The need for side conversations and small groups is minimized by the fact that everyone will have had an opportunity to hear and be heard at some point during the evening.

The web community, made up of journalers and bloggers is (to my way of thinking) a nice dinner party... not a great one. There are no invitations or seating charts... in fact it's probably more like an open invitation 'kegger' that the host has made no effort to control. In such an environment the journalers make their rounds... talking, talking, talking... and retelling their stories to anyone who will listen. Likewise, the bloggers circulate energetically, whispering and pointing, whispering and pointing... sharing a tidbit here and then flitting to there. Like a beehive, everyone has a role.

As I said earlier, I consider myself a journaler. I talk and talk, and talk to anyone whose attention I can hold. I am also content to occasionally listen to the other journalers in my little sphere, and to the bloggers who point out interesting writers in other neighboring spheres.

In my experience, bloggers seem more than willing to switch roles, and often expand their brief commentary to extended opinions when the mood strikes them. But the fatal flaw in many journalers (myself included) is that we rarely pause long enough to play the vitally important role of blogger.

Even though, in typical journaler fashion, I have wasted hundreds of words where a dozen should have sufficed, today I want to blog. I want to point out a voice of reason in an otherwise unreasonable debate.

My friend Ben Chorin is a relative newcomer to the online world, but I usually read him before most of the 'more established' addresses on my 'Good Readin' list. The simple reason is that he thinks... a lot. I respect him because he stubbornly shuks conventional wisdom and the status quo... and because he makes me examine the worth and validity of my own opinions, each and every time I read him.

Today he takes on the much discussed issue of Israeli disengagement from Gaza (Aza). Most people who are even remotely familiar with the topic already have strong opinions to share... and have long since made up their mind on the subject.

Ben approaches the topic academically and refuses to become enmeshed in the emotional rhetoric that has been the hallmark of nearly all debate on the subject.

When you are done reading him, you might make the mistake of thinking that he hasn't taken a clear position.

He has... he just hasn't used his position as a bludgeon. How refreshing!

But more importantly, you will see that he has forced you to think... to confront the issues rather than test ideologies... and to not place so much value on whether or not you agree with his conclusion.

Today I am without a story to tell... I'm a journaler who, for the moment, has changed his stripes and is content to point over there... to someone who is saying something well worth your time and consideration.

Enjoy the party.

Posted by David Bogner on September 20, 2004 | Permalink


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Ben Rocks!! especially for an egghead.

Posted by: MO Chassid | Sep 20, 2004 7:10:45 PM

It is interesting and well written, so much so that I read all the way down to the part about how a girl who chants Torah or learns/teaches Gemarra as part of a bat mitzvah celebration is a male impersonator...

I thank God I was not born female in an Orthodox family, every day.

Posted by: Tara Bognar | Sep 21, 2004 12:47:48 AM

I'm sorry, I know you're orthodox and I'm sure your daughters are very lucky. I didn't mean that to be as offensive as it sounded.

I do, though. Comments like that make me want to vomit... if I were born a couple of generations earlier, well... I can't blame my grandmother at all for opting out as completely as she possibly could.

Posted by: Tara Bognar | Sep 21, 2004 12:51:23 AM

I haven't spent any time considering your distinctions between blogger and journaler until today. I don't really have a strong opinion one way or another, so we'll let that stand.

What I enjoy about this medium is the ability to interact with people that I would likely never meet in "real life."

Some are very interesting and people that I learn from and some have little to nothing to offer. And that is ok.

I find pleasure in learning and pleasure sometimes in the blogs that offer no insight whatsoever, just good, for lack of a better term "human interest" stories.

Posted by: Jack | Sep 21, 2004 1:34:47 AM

As you pointed out, Ben has done a good job of stripping the argument of it's most unintelligent proponents on either side. What he has not succeeded in doing is make a clear cut case for not withdrawing. He has debunked one or two of the arguments, but on the demographic issue, he sets up a straw man. It is true that the Arabs in Azza do not have the franchise now, but they will need to be given some kind of political rights sometime or other, or we will in fact be in the wrong.
It does not matter that we don't particularly like the Arabs there. They cannot go on with no political rights there. If the PA ever becomes more legit, we will have to deal with our presence there; if not, we will have to come up with some kind of political solution.

Posted by: Jordan | Sep 21, 2004 5:39:53 AM

A few of you have left comments about things Ben said with which you didn't agree... and that's fine. The way you expressed your concern with his views was well within the boundaries of a reasoned discussion (and I guess that indicates that he made you think, as opposed to rant).

However, the second step in the process if you are comfortable with your views is to let him know what you thought... not me.

He is not the sort of person who will flame anyone, and you will probably enjoy either having your own views confirmed or learning the reasoning behind his.

Isn't that why we read blogs by people not exactly like ourselves?

Posted by: David | Sep 21, 2004 6:36:30 AM

You're right David, and I did leave a note there as well. Though I don't think arguing a thing like whether or not I or many of my friends are -male impersonators- are exactly beginnings of productive conversations.

Posted by: Tara Bognar | Sep 21, 2004 2:16:46 PM

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