Sunday, 26 October 2008

Andrew Sullivan, model blogger

I was never too impressed by Andrew Sullivan back in the mid-1990s when he was editor of The New Republic, a position that tended to bring out the worst in people if they were not already the very worst sort of people, and for which Sullivan (the Surrey-born Oxford-&-Harvard gay Catholic conservative) was an 'offbeat' and yet, in retrospect, predictable choice (given the era in question, when Camille Paglia was considered a hot thing.)
I've found Sullivan a lot more interesting and engaging and provocative in his subsequent career as a keen and forthright blogger, one whose assiduity has done much to promote the blog form among published writers and to encourage useful connections around the blogosphere. In the new Atlantic Sullivan ruminates at length on blogging, what it means and has meant to him, and where it might be going.
A lot of his comments are relevant only to those bloggers lucky enough to be read by people with whom they are not on first-name terms. And I don't think the jury should waste a moment's time on his attempts to draw Pascal, Montaigne and Karl Kraus into the discussion as proto-bloggers. Still, he makes many observations that struck me as pertinent. For one:
"On the Web, one-sentence links are as legitimate as thousand-word diatribes—in fact, they are often valued more. And, as Matt Drudge told me when I sought advice from the master in 2001, the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks."
This shark-like zeal, I suppose, is how a man like Matt Drudge gets to be reckoned a 'master'. But the point is surely correct.
For another:
"... the most pleasant surprise of blogging has been the number of people working in law or government or academia or rearing kids at home who have real literary talent and real knowledge, and who had no outlet—until now."
Yes, yes, we've all run into hundreds of bores and lunatics online too, but they vanish from memory even before you've clicked away, whereas the surprisingly interesting voices stay with you.

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