Thursday, February 24, 2005

Now the circle is complete

It seems that Blogistan has been afflicted with a wave of introspection about where blogging is headed. Henry at Crooked Timber tries to provide the serious analysis, but we think he has way too much confidence in the power of link counts to provide a quality ranking of blogs. Because these link counts have as much to do with ego-stroking as intrinsic quality.

Take for instance Slate magazine's approach to blogging. We've always felt that a fair bit of Slate's output is well-captured by its colour scheme -- Crimson, as in Harvard University. Basically, when you're reading anything in Slate, look for the Harvard connection. It won't be far away. House blogger, Mickey Kaus. Google his name and Harvard and see what happens.

Then there's an ill-advised piece in Wednesday's edition which is getting the cover page treatment on Thursday. It's a rumination on how bloggers and rappers have much in common. As Atrios asks, "Does Slate actually pay people to write this stuff?" But the cover promo (may change by the time you click*) is especially laughable: a juxtaposition of 50 cent, rapper, with Andrew Sullivan, blogger.

Now on the one hand, we think maybe the writer had blundered into a real insight. If he'd redone the lyrics of "In da club" to be about Sully's blog pledge drives and his, shall we say, interesting, Internet lifestyle, there would be some laughs. Sadly, much of 50's lyrics would drag us into one kind of obscenity or another, so let's merely note that the relatively clean couplet:

I'm feelin' focused man, my money on my mind
I got a mill out the deal and I'm still on the grind

could well describe Sully's more vainglorious boasting after his readers have sent him cash. Or, as captured by Fafblog, Sully's boasting about the power of blogging itself.

But that brings us to the bigger problem. Sully is not actually a blogger. He quit. Or at least he said he did, with Sullywatch still being in business one of the few consolations of his reticence. So how can it be that someone who's so ambivalent about the tag is emblematic of the species for Slate? Was it that they were looking for some dude who went to Harvard, who might be a blogger, and is not Kaus? And anyway, that whole "bloggers = rappers" was already done, hilariously, by the aforementioned Fafblog.

*update: part of cover image here.

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