Sunday, April 15, 2007

Link Farm #2 With Meta And Other



i'm insanely busy, but i promised to post a weekly link farm. the second installment will be much longer than the first one. while browsing my del.icio.us links, i remembered Althippo's suggestion that bloggers post their bookmarked links once a month. hence, this week's installment will not be limited to smaller blogs from the lefty blogging community. they will be featured prominently, but the monthly del.icio.us dump will reflect a broader range of my reading habits because it will include links to little bloggers, big bloggers, newspapers, magazines and other sites i found interesting enough to bookmark during the previous month.

let's get the meta-blogging out of the way. the controversy over Blogroll Amnesty Day rages on. i've been following this blogswarm with avid interest. i've been toodling around electronic communities for seventeen years now, ever since the Knoxville News Sentinel printed a tiny article about BBSes in the early nineties. i wrote the author and asked for some numbers to local BBSes, and i went exploring with my 300 baud modem. those were the days.

those days are these days too. there has been more than enough hand-wringing over the inevitable blowouts that have rattled the lefty web community over the last two years. these explosions plague all large and growing electronic communities. the human ego being what it is, people have inexplicable conflicts with others, and the flame wars that litter all of cyberspace are just ultra-modern repetitions of heated exchanges in the public squares, tribal councils and legislative chambers of the past. the subject of the incidence of dysfunctional family dynamics in online communities is rich enough for a series of posts.

it's a common human failing to believe that one knows what's best, so there will never be an end to the bickering about what is the best way to do anything. we'll never come to a consensus regarding what the lefty web community _is_ or what its 'purpose' is, if it can be said to have one. i don't have any answers to these questions because i'm not all that interested in asking them.

i use the resources of the lefty web community to educate myself and to pass the time. i'm a lazy type. i'm not an activist or an organizer. i'm at best an interested citizen and moderately active voter. i know i should be more involved, but the responsibilities of life consume most of my time. i'm not interested in being a shaper of public opinion. this blog is a hobby for me and could be said to be only marginally political these days.

therefore, i can't speak for the needs and concerns of those who passionately believe that the liberal web community has a purpose to fulfill. i can comment on the social dynamics that are causing so much consternation because i've seen them all before. i can offer suggestions for building a higher profile for one's own blog, for the less-traveled paths in the liberal blogging world, and for lefty opinion in google search results.

for those of you who are terrified that all this conflict and the wildfire flame wars migrating from blog to blog spell the end of the liberal web community, let me offer you some comfort. it will pass, and in its wake, dozens, if not hundreds, of new blogs will appear and new alliances will bloom everywhere. the online profile of feminist opinion and women bloggers exploded after the Pie War at Daily Kos.

these conflagrations are so common that there even exists a taxonomy for categorizing them. there are even guides instructing how best to conduct one. these conflicts are often personality-related, and if any of the parties is a prominent and well-known participant, others will inevitably take sides. flying projectiles ensue, and often the whole mess ends with various participants storming off in a huff, leaving Goodbye Cruel World farewells in their wake. shit happens.

relatively speaking, the Blogroll Amnesty Day controversy is a mild blowout. after reading just about everyone's opinion on the matter, i have to agree that there is some merit to skippy's concern about google pagerank for bloggers expressing lefty opinions. i was confused about this point because i couldn't see how it wasn't just about traffic to individual blogs.

skippy's fear is that the blogroll purges at high traffic liberal blogs will result in less overall representation of lefty opinion in the search results of the most popular seach engine on the web. while others are equally concerned, i don't believe that the actions of atrios, markos, jesus' general and other high traffic bloggers have created a threat that the less trafficked blogs can't address on their own. too many good, intelligent and thoughtful bloggers are looking up hoping for a deus ex machina. of course a link from one of the big dogs will drive a small blog's traffic into the stratosphere. i'm aware that it's not unusual to want success to come easily. however, it's not productive to use hope as a strategy for success.

smaller bloggers: you need to stop craning your necks upwards and start looking at the folks standing around you at eye level. these bloggers are more likely to respond to a link from you. they are more likely to respond to a comment you leave on their blogs. they are more likely to reply to your emails. attention from these bloggers and links from their blogs are not worthless. become a regular reader of smaller blogs and make an effort to link to their posts in your own posts. go start a conversation with other bloggers who will actually be thankful for the traffic you send their way.

this is how the liberal web community can duplicate the success of righty solidarity online. increasing linkage between the less traveled blogs in blogrolls and in individual posts will raise everyone's pagerank. the A listers mostly cover general political topics. i think the real potential for growth will be in specialized coverage of niche topics. the general all-purpose politics blogging world is saturated. Firedoglake came out of nowhere and achieved fame because its contributors focused on the Plame controversy and provided unique, researched and informed analysis of it. newer blogs could stand to gain a lot from this approach.

whew. i need to post the damned links i promised.

Meta Meta Meta

A Danger Of Online Political Communities - Death By Meta by Chris Bowers from MyDD

Summary:

Chris argues that meta is a threat to online communities. i disagree. although the flame wars and the high tempers that come with them are often unpleasant, they expose the kind of fissures that a community can't hide or ignore. productive things can come out of the dissatisfaction that provokes these conflicts. BlogHer is a good example.

Purposeful Blogging by Chris Bowers from MyDD

Summary:

Chris advises bloggers to think about why they are blogging and want they want to accomplish before thinking about traffic. clearly, this is easy for an A-lister to say, but that doesn't mean that his advice isn't good. one can't really target the best means to build a readership for one's blog without knowing why and for whom one is blogging.

The Blogosphere Experiment by scribe from Booman Tribune

Summary:

scribe discusses the social dynamics of online communities and concludes that mixing community and politics is misguided and doomed to failure. i disgaree because these blowouts aren't limited to online political communities. periodic flame wars plague every large online community. we're still learning to use this medium effectively. it's really premature to call an experiment a failure when it has only just begun.

i think these growing pains are normal. it's not really possible to cast out dissident voices on the web. many people who are banned from large online political communities start their own blogs. getting banned from a site like Daily Kos may actually be a _draw_ for traffic. banning someone for ideological reasons under the cover of protecting the community from 'disruptive' behavior is practically guaranteed to draw attention to the viewpoint and the person expressing it. i don't think these conflicts are toxic at all. they are useful because they expose important, unresolved contradictions between a self-identified community's stated values and its behavior.

He Is Alive by Maryscott O'Conner from My Left Wing

Summary:

Maryscott delivers the news that an intervention to prevent the suicide of a member of the My Left Wing community was successful. i'm posting this as a reminder that online life is as intense and emotionally important as offline life. stories like this show why it is unrealistic to think that the 'community' aspect can be stripped from any large gathering of people online. to a greater or lesser extent, everyone is seeking to fulfill unmet needs when they become regulars in any online forum.

i want to highlight Maryscott's impassioned defense of her intervention. some members of Daily Kos reacted negatively to the fact that she posted a diary there seeking information that would save the life of the person in question. for some bizarre reason, some Kossacks attempted to shame her for what she did. although the diary at Daily Kos was eventually deleted, Maryscott reposted her reply at My Left Wing and it is a righteous rant of self defense if there ever was one.

Steven D posted a defense of Maryscott's actions at Booman Tribune and My Left Wing. Curmudgette from The Blogging Curmudgeon wrote a good post about the bizarre bashing Maryscott faced during the whole ordeal.

Have the Bannings Proved Billmon Right? by Nonpartisan from My Left Wing

Summary:

Nonpartisan wonders if the large number of bannings at Daily Kos in the wake of Blogroll Amnesty Day proves Billmon's prediction that commercialization would ruin the liberal blogosphere, turning it into a circus for a charmed circle of A list bloggers who would be safely 'moderate' and nonthreatening to the status quo.

Curmudgette has several posts on this subject. Booman Tribune was created in response to a crackdown on diaries and comments supporting the theory that the 2004 election was stolen. Francis L. Holland was banned from Daily Kos for making aggressive and in-your-face challenges to Daily Kos conventional opinion.

My Left Wing Meta Culpa by Maryscott O'Conner from My Left Wing

Summary:

the bannings at Daily Kos prompted Maryscott to rethink her approach to managing her blog. one of the most frequent complaints about Daily Kos is that the management plays favorites when popular or prominent members break the rules. Maryscott cops to doing the same and resolves to be more fair.

she made a mistake in calling out individuals by name, but overall, this is an honest and thoughtful post about the difficulties of being even-handed in the wild and unruly world of political blogs. she certainly faces a challenge. My Left Wing has suffered quite a bit of internal turmoil lately as well some some inter-blog conflict with Daily Kos.

Why Your Blog Doesn’t Suck by jurassicpork from Welcome to Pottersville

Summary:

inspired by a jerk-ish post from atrios, jurassicpork delivers some good advice to ambitious bloggers minus the arrogant snark.

How I Missed the Great Blogroll Purge by terrance from The Republic of T.

Summary:

terrance remarks that he hardly noticed Blogroll Amnesty Day because he doesn't care about getting the attention of the A listers anymore. by the time it happened, he had already delinked A list blogs that never linked back to him. this post struck a nerve because several other bloggers have posted about it. this post also got atrios' attention whose post provoked another (also here) flurry of meta-blogging around the net.

P. S. terrance also has an older post worth reading about the politics of linking.

Don't Let the Paparazzi Get You Down by Booman from Booman Tribune

Summary:

Booman compares meta-gossip-bloggers to paparazzi. i think the comparison is apt. i guess this makes me paparazzi. i promise not to chase anyone so madly that they die in a fiery car crash trying to escape from me.

Confessions of a Reformed Radical Feminist (Potty-Mouthed) Christian/ity Basher by Lilian M. Friedberg from Culture Kitchen

Summary:

this post was inspired partially by the raging controversy over the John Edwards campaign's hiring of Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa Mcewan of Shakespeare's Sister (now Shakesville). it's a great post to wrap up the Meta Meta Meta section of my del.icio.us link dump. Lilian highlights the difficulty and importance of coalition politics to the lefty political community with a personal story that unleashes a slap of pain and loss that will strike you dumb.

Renewable Energy

Putting More “Renewable” in Renewable Fuels by deb9 from Daily Kos.

Summary:

i'm more than delighted to see the signs of an incipient revolution in how energy is harnessed and delivered. there are, however, serious sustainability challenges that must be addressed. the current approach to producing ethanol is troublesome because the process relies heavily on fossil fuels.

Pond-Powered Biofuels: Turning Algae into America's New Energy by Amanda Leigh Haag from Popular Mechanics

Summary:

some species of algae contain a high oil content, making them a potential source of renewable energy. there are several points in favor of using algae for fuel. it is not currently a feed crop for humans or livestock. the resources for producing algae won't come from the same base of resources needed to grow food for humans or livestock. algae can be used to recycle raw sewage as well as carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Science

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior by Nicholas Wade from the New York Times.

Summary:

science continues to pound the notion that human beings are special because of their capacity for moral reasoning. this brings back memories of my human behavioral biology class with Irven Devore and Mark Hauser. professor Devore was a bible-thumper until he became an anthropologist and studied human behavior from a scientific perspective. he subsequently became a raging advocate for feminism and acceptance of homosexuality. i suppose this is a good time to blogwhore for myself.

Just to add to the confusion… by Daran from Creative Destruction

Summary:

a human ovum can be fertilized by two sperm. i think this means that a child can theoretically have two fathers. now, isn't that wack. i'd love to see a child support arrangement for that work its way through the court system.

Discourse

Spelling rage by Arnold Zwicky from Language Log

Summary:

every day brings another example of someone else who makes me embarrassed to be an american.

In the tradition of truthiness and faminess by Arnold Zwicky from Language Log

Summary:

as the culture of politics becomes ever more performative, another invented word joins faminess and truthiness -- referenciness, or the creation of an appearance of actual scholarly effort using bogus footnotes and cites.

Logical Fallacies by Brutus from Creative Destruction

Summary:

this is a great list of common logical fallacies without the latin. most 7th graders could understand it, so it should be given to all of them before they turn into bitter internet trolls living in their mothers' basements.

Of Thicker Skins, and Sucking It Up by Arthur Silber from Once Upon a Time...

Summary:

Arthur touches on a subject that i've long meant to make the subject of a post. i've noticed that whenever someone expresses pain and disappointment with some aspect of the world, there is always a crowd of people ready and willing to dogpile that person for daring to be upset and express it. they are told to toughen up and develop a thicker skin as if a person could simply choose not to feel, and as if repression of what one feels is a _good_ or _desireable_ thing. in one fashion or another, our culture ingrains in us the need and desire to repress our emotions and to police the emotional expressions of others.

word on the street by skippy from skippy the bush kangaroo

Summary:

there is a section in Los Angeles called irangeles because of its sizeable iranian immigrant population. skippy has posted a series of photos from irangeles of graffiti protesting the use of military force against iran.

Interest by Kameron Hurley from Brutal Women

Summary:

Kameron's post explores the difficulty women face in turning away unwanted romantic or sexual interest. women are constrained in the kinds of communication they can deploy when negotiating matters of dating and sex with men. all good feminists know that voicing 'No' is a tense and difficult matter for women.

Money

Blogs to Riches by Clive Thompson from New York Magazine

Summary:

this article details the transformation of blogging from a morally suspect, time-wasting activity for maladjusted geeks into a lucrative morally suspect, time-wasting activity. i suppose there's some sadness in the entrance of corporate-backed blogs with a professional PR department behind them. nevertheless, i wonder why it causes such consternation that blogging has increased the number of paid writing gigs. i'm not inclined to wring my hands about the despoiled purity of blogging because some people are making some money doing it.

Foreclosures Force Suburbs to Fight Blight by Erik Eckholm from The New York Times

Summary:

the foreclosure rate has gotten so bad around cleveland that the city is paying to keep up the appearance of foreclosed properties in an effort to stave off urban blight and the loss of an important tax base. the city of cleveland should send a heartfelt thank you note to Alan Greenspan for trying to bail out the economy after the stock market crash by moving the speculation into real estate.

Is your college run by mobsters? by smintheus from Daily Kos

Summary:

the fucking of the american middle class continues apace. the deregulation of the student loan industry has predictably led to higher costs for college. now the financial aid departments of schools are falling all over themselves to climb into the pockets of the private student loan industry. exactly what was wrong with the student loan program before that it needed 'fixing' with 'deregulation'?

The Anti-Authoritarian Web

Red State Blues by Sara Robinson from Orcinus

Summary:

the culture war rears its ugly head in the disappointed expectations and declining fortunes of rural america. one of the primary reasons i was happy that Howard Dean became head of the DNC was his commitment to developing a 50 state strategy. Democrats can't afford to ignore the culture war, and they can't win it by focusing on safe urban centers.

Virtual Hate Crmes by Sara Robinson of Orcinus

Summary:

Sara contextualizes the misogynist death threats targeted at Kathy Sierra within the aims of most hate crimes -- to terrorize a class of people by attacking one of them for their membership in that class. Orcinus is one of the best blogs out there. David and Sara take a scholarly approach to exploring the elements of fascism in hard right wing enclaves of american politics. a cornerstone of fascist ideology is masculine dominance and feminine submission. women who dare to wear a public face are favored targets for violent retaliation at the hands of attackers with fascist leanings.

The Neiwert Awards for 2006 by David Neiwert of Orcinus

Summary:

a year ago, the Pacific Northwest Portal began recognizing the best of the progressive pacific northwest blogging community. they named their awards after David, the best known pacific northwest blogger. the 2006 winners have just recently been chosen. i think recognition of this form is important for the world of blogging. there is enormous potential for the lefty blogosphere in covering local and regional issues. think of it as the blogging world's 50 state strategy.

God bless the child, 2 by belledame222 from Fetch me my axe

Summary:

this is the second installment of belledame222's series about authoritarian disciplinary practices. i was in elementary school in the eighties. at that time, public schools in kentucky used corporal punishment. my fifth grade teacher had a paddle that was carved in the shape of a sword.

i would really love to see some researched blogging about the fact that schools in working class school districts are much more authoritarian in character than upper middle class suburban districts. poor children are taught to obey and accept boring, repetitive and rigid routines whereas wealthy suburban students are encouraged to pursue personal whims and self-actualization. class war, anyone?

this wraps up the April del.icio.us link dump. i'm aware that it is late and that i posted no link farm at all last week. i was busy trying to manage my own life. i hope this week's meaty post makes up for the fact that i missed last week. i think it'll have to be a semi-weekly link farm.

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