Saturday, November 05, 2005
Anti-Social Social Media
Why is it that our local newspaper's blogs don't have a feature for comments? Recently Greg Tulonen, who posts on a Massslive.com/Republican political "blog" titled The Fray, popped in to help sort out the political parties of the candidates for the Chicopee mayoral race (since I wasn't able to readily discern those parties from the candidate's promotional materials.)
I wanted to be polite, go over to The Fray, and thank Greg for leaving that comment--try to build a little sense of community between myself, the Grassrootser and The Man--but comments cannot be posted to the Masslive.com/Republican blogs.
What's up with that? From all my blog-education, blogging is a social activity. Its mode of communication is meant to be horizontal--peer to peer. If I cannot go back and establish dialogue with Greg, and thus extend not only my own community, but also the Masslive/Republican community then what's the point??
If I can go in and establish horizontal communication with Jeff Jarvis, who, from what I know, helped to set up blogging for papers like The Republican when he was with Conde-Nast (the Republican's parent company), and thus facilitate a face-to-face meeting with Jeff, why can't I have the same sort of communcation with Greg Tulonen?
What has ended up happening between myself and Greg is a top-down, old media communication style--something Jarvis preaches against and other newspaper editors, like Lex Alexander also try not to continue. I really appreciated the heads up from Greg (it spared me some additional embarassment and if I gaffed again, I'd welcome another heads up), but I don't like the sense of pulling rank.
So, I am puzzled and want to know why the Masslive/Republican blogs do not allow comments. Is it that many of the folks running them are somehow connected to the paper and don't have the time to be social? Or is it that, with their particular format, The Forums are meant to be the social medium and not the blogs?
Forums, however are one kind of social media, while blogs are another. Both build community, but do it slightly differently. And while there are some notable blogs where the Comments sections end up functioning like unmoderated Forums, blogs in general aren't meant to function like unmoderated Forums.
Or, more insidiously, is it the fear that an outside blogger might post a link which may not express the opinions of the parent company??
That's shouldn't even be a point, but just might be part of the answer.
Blogs are, for the most part, a means for the blogger to interact with the world around him/herself. They are a means of disseminating information (political, personal, tech, whatever) and thus establishing connection with others not only within one's own community but with the wider world. Blogs, for the most part, are meant to break down barriers not only between nations but between people and institutions. Some bloggers may choose to disallow comments, but for an entire group of blogs, clustered under the umbrella of a local newspaper, to completely disallow comments is not just anti-social but in a sense defeats the idea of blogs as social media.
I would like to run into someone from the Masslive/Republican blogs at the Symposium on Social Archetecture on 11/14-15, but I doubt that will happen. If they can't be social within their own sphere of influence, what makes me think they'd want to be part of a social architecture symposium?
Hey, I can dream, can't I?
social citizen journalism, media, Blogging, Blog, Blogs,