Wednesday, May 25, 2005

My Opinion on Warblogging

Here are a few thoughts about this site from my perspective. Bear with me while I lay it out, please.

The form of the discussions is currently centered around a lead journal post, followed by comments that may stay on topic or not. The selection of these Journals is either from “card-carrying warbloggers” or from those who have the right to post granted them, presumably by George Paine.

The tenor of the stream of selections to me appears to be mainly driven by finding in the ocean of web articles out there just those that support the “what else is wrong with the hated Bush and Co.” or what is bad in or about the current US frame of reference. Sometimes the tenor is directly this, and sometimes it is indirect, but apparent, nevertheless. Thus, there is established a framework to begin with that is heavily slanted in one direction. The continuity of this slant is supported by most of the old-guard posters in warblogging. Entering into such a slanted world is not helped by the second aspect either.

The second aspect: any newcomer would spend quite a long time reading the posts of WB before attempting to formulate as accurately as possible the affiliations, worldviews, belief systems, and country of origin of the posters. There is no objective reference to these aspects of the selected Journalists on site. Clarifying where one is coming from, up front, would be a valuable assist to commenters, if one is really contemplating attracting people with differing points of view.

It is well established to me that another aspect of not having a working point of view first is that of mistaking and misidentifying an individual’s relatively unique assembly of tenets with those of an entire wing on the political spectrum, which is far too broad a categorization to distinguish the actual nuances of beliefs. I suppose that is the same for religious, philosophical, sociological, and even psychological beliefs too.

If attracting differing world views isn’t your purpose here, then your intent to have a rather closed and slanted, more or less Progressive society of posters (i.e. Rightists Unwelcome!) should be stated on the site, and registration should be installed to keep out the dissenters. Some of the members believe in that, I think.

A third point: I also think that Warblogging itself should have a “mission statement,” a manifesto (!), and terms of debate and discussion that are clearly understood -- and enforced -- which is rather problematic at best, as the site deals with issues that arouse strong passions and antipathies – often as a visceral reaction to some trigger phrase or another. Such a statement of purpose isn’t needed for long-time members, of course, that purpose having been established between the members historically. But for the newcomer, particularly the dissenter, it would provide much needed focus.

A third matter that must be broached is that of “scholarship” and perfect presentation and typing. For the moment I will divide scholarship into three parts: fact-finding; analysis of facts and related opinions; and a statement of opinion or conclusion, with references as needed. If this is the requisite form for posting in WB, then that should be a part of the mission statement. It is often rather burdensome to perform the necessary background research, or to have it at hand on line, in a ready form. Many examples come to mind. However, if that is the requirement, so be it. My feeling is that opinions are worthwhile to read if they can be substantiated eventually, if not immediately, or can be closely related to a system of thought that is well-established.

Punctuation and spelling accuracy is desirable, but if you demand nothing but perfection here, and carp on every misplaced comma or misspelled word, it most certainly detracts from the flow and the comity in posting. (I have read what Idzg, MK and others have posted about respect and comity, and agree with them.)

Finally, I am far more interested in topics per se than in daily news reports. Topics such as: whither secular humanism, Darwinism versus ID, the “Laws of Nations” versus “International Law”, why have judicial activism?, what is the threat of Theism? etc. etc. These would be tremendous learning exercises for everyone, unless, of course, these issues have been decided here already, and there is nothing more to say about them.


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