476 AD

Blogs can be differentiated from the rest of the media by their emphasis on conversation, but let’s not get carried away.

The landscape of blogging: torched houses and cities, peasants wearing cheap trinkets and carrying heads in bags while claiming to be Caesar. Occasionally one comes across an encampment among the the gray, the brown, the disrepair and the blood. At the encampment the soldiers might as well be children: they can’t spell as well as most third graders. They’d be gentler if they threw tantrums over toys instead of thinking they are ridding themselves of a despot. Their leader emerges, and he will have one eye, as is to be expected. That’s how one keeps one’s prose and ideas accessible; the only way to write the same entry over and over again is to be nearly blind and somewhat brainless.

You can see these phenomena most clearly on “political blogs” run by people who wonder why Al Franken or Michael Savage haven’t gotten their doctorates yet, but it extends to all blogs. Nearly every comment thread anywhere on the Internet is testament to this, where years upon years of education look like the most failed experiment in human history.

In the landscape, there are a few gems, but there is no open war upon the barbarians. Gems stay gems partly because they are completely hidden from sight. A link from one serious blog to another might as well be an underground passage. I wonder if the Romans experienced this too – the invaders never bothered with what was actually valuable, whether it be jewels, art, horses, food, weapons. They would wreck anything, and might have been pacified by a few well-placed decoys and counterstrikes.

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  1. I mean, I’m half-joking with the barbarian image, but I’ll be the first to confess that just how mob-like the Internet is has gotten to me more than once. The worst tendency is feeling like every single person on a site is against you.

  2. It’s the WOW effect man! Think about it, think about it!

    Seriously though, people behave just as they would in WOW, or any other MMORPG – they form “clans,” they roam the landscape, they assault others, and they pillage other sites. It really is a barbarian mentality amongst a good portion of those using the internet these days. What can you do?

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