March 22, 2005
The REAL Power of Blogs
've made some stupid mistakes writing for this blog and have had to own up to them. But that's part of the whole point, isn't it?
As a graduate student, I had a professor who conducted his seminars in literature in a manner radically different from many of his colleagues.
He would give us a question and watch seven or eight of us to discuss and debate it for 90 minutes or so. At first, people would try to draw him in to give the "right" answer, and of course he refused. Furthermore, he wanted us to deal with the matter directly, without benefit of reading critical interpretations. (Every one of his colleagues had us read critical interpretations. Godawful stuff mostly.)
For example, in his Austen and Bronte seminar--where I finally learned how to read by having to deal with the precise and complex nature of Jane Austen's prose rather than what people had written about it--we gradually got used to presenting arguments, changing our minds, presenting revised arguments, changing our minds again, live, in the moment, over this or that passage in Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre.
One day, something remarkable happened. We were discussing whether Darcy's character changed in Pride and Prejudice, a topic that happened to be our professor's dissertation topic, and someone finally presented an argument that contradicted the professor's position...and changed the professor's mind!
He freely admitted that now he realized that he was wrong in his dissertation. What a great, revelatory moment. What a humble man.
I then realized that that was the precise nature of the forum he had provided for us--the ability to dispassionately advance arguments, entertain comments and criticisms in such a way that it was okay to change our minds and immediately advance a new argument. Without shame, without embarassment, without humiliation. In direct response to great literature, not secondary critical material.
And this goes to the heart of the REAL power of blogs.
Credibility in bloggers, especially political bloggers, is built on a foundation of integrity and transparency. On a willingness to advance an informed opinion, entertain immediate criticism and countering opinions, then immediately change one's mind based on that new information. And then to advance a new position, and be just as passionate about that position until someone comes up with another good reason to change one's mind.
And this fact also points to why the MSM (Mainstream Media) is forced to change or die. Their foundation has been built on gatekeeping, holding close to the vest, admitting error under duress, backpeddling, evasion, withholding the whole story...
...and now they are forced to be transparent. Poor, poor MSM. We're so sorry. Let's shed a tear for the MSM.
Thank God for blogs!
*** You can't just suddenly be my friend; you have to go through a training period. Ashleigh Brilliant
Posted by witnit at March 22, 2005 12:05 AM
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