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Monday, May 02, 2005

blogging as synthesis

Blogging is widely misunderstood. For many, a blog is one of two things: 1. a weird personal journal that includes things like "my mood today" and bad romantic poetry or 2. a place for partisan or ideological propaganda and community a la the Dean campaign. Both of those things exist, but the most socially important blogs are more interesting and thoughtful than that. As I wrote in my welcome to readers, Cambridge Common is trying to be a place for people to learn about what's going on in our community and exchange some ideas. Blogs of this types are places for synthesis: we try to bring together different information sources, ways of thinking, people, arguments, perspectives into some sort of coherent dialogue. So far, there are have a couple successful instances of just that (the racism conversation below for instance). (more in expanded post)

What blogging is not is a replacement for mainstream media. Whether on campus, nationally or internationally, the rise of the "blogosphere" has been viewed with envy or suspicion, as if blogs are trying to overtake mainstream media as the arbiters of social or political truth, the producers of reporting, or the guides of dialogue. This conception, while understandable, is widely off-basis.

One of the primary tenants of blogging is the self-conscious realization that the blogger is but one voice, and that commenters and members of a blogging community are in a conversation. The blog is an aspiring democratic tool for dialogue, for engaging mainstream media to improve, deepen and broaden context. Blogging, in this sense, is an inherently alternative source of information. Someone (in our case The Crimson) has to be doing the real journalistic work that produces common knowledge to be considered, augmented, criticized or supported. Blogs, with few exceptions, cannot do that. The hope of a blog like this is that it begins to construct a conversation that's occurring on campus by linking sources together, different forms of commentary, different ideas, different communities. Blogging is the act of trying to create synthesis by being an antithesis, pushing the thesis beyond its own previous conceptions and being pushed back in turn. You can't really have synthesis, however, without something that represents thesis.

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