Monday, April 12, 2004

Digital Culture: Manufacturing a Crappy Blog

Yes, it's true... Noam Chomsky started a blog last month. It's called Turning the Tide. But after a week, he mysteriously stopped blogging...

I wrote about Mr. Chomsky's blog flirtation last week in the Post, as part of a new item I'm writing on Tuesdays called Digital Culture:
Over the past year, it has become commonplace for celebrities of all stripes to start weblogs: Everyone from Belinda Stronach to Margaret Cho has jumped on the blog bandwagon. Still, some arrivals to the blogosphere are a genuine surprise.

A linguist and left-wing theorist of some renown, Noam Chomsky has spent most of his life criticizing media. So, it's interesting to see that the Chomster joined the self-publishing revolution with "Turning the Tide" (blog.zmag.org/ttt/) on March 24.

While most popular bloggers are known for expressing strong opinions succinctly, Chomsky seems to be having difficulty mastering the art of the sound bite. In a recent post about the upcoming American presidential elections, he writes, "We have several choices to make. The first is whether we want to pay attention to the real world, or prefer to keep to abstract discussions suitable to some seminar. Suppose we adopt the first alternative."

In other ways, however, Chomsky's prose is well suited to the Internet. Jumping from thought to thought to thought -- sometimes in a single sentence -- his writing resembles a primitive form of hypertext. Take this erudite consideration: "All opponents of the invasion of Iraq -- at least, all those who bothered to think the matter through -- took for granted that there would be beneficial effects, as is often the case with military interventions: the bombing of Pearl Harbor, for example, which led to the expulsion of Western imperial powers from Asia, saving millions of lives. Does that justify Japanese fascism and its crimes? Of course not."

When Chomsky does manage to render an opinion concisely, it reads like poetry. Take his March 24 entry, "Bush's Economics":
Whether Bush believes,
or even understands,
the economic policies of his administration I have no idea,
and it really doesn't matter much.
Alas, Chomsky hasn't updated his blog since last month. One senses the medium is not suited for his message and that, like Belinda, he will soon permanently mothball his blog.

In the future, it seems, everyone famous will have a blog for 15 days.
Another thinker unsuited for blogging: John Ralston Saul. Man, I wish he'd get on that...

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