We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“Anyone can do it!”

I followed Instapundit to this:

America’s oldest institution of higher learning has hopped on the Internet’s hottest new trend, hiring software developer Dave Winer to help get students and faculty blogging.

Harvard University has given the former software executive a fellowship at its Berkman Centre for the Internet and Society, part of Harvard Law School, in order to head up the new Blogs at Harvard Initiative. Winer, who studied math at Tulane University before collecting his master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, will instruct Harvard students and faculty in the art of posting daily dispatches to the Web.

That took me to this, and I went from there I came across this:

SEOUL, South Korea – The earnest young man in tortoise-shell glasses spends up to 18 hours a day peering at a computer screen. Despite his unassuming appearance, Hwang Myong Pil’s online moniker is ”Nuclear Bomb,” and he is one of the secret weapons of South Korea’s president-elect, Roh Moo Hyun.

Hwang, 29, is a volunteer for an online fan club that is an increasingly important player in South Korean politics. The fan club, popularly known by a Korean acronym for ”People who Love Roh,” boasts 80,000 members — most of them in their 20s or early 30s with little previous taste for electoral politics. They are widely credited with playing a major part in Roh’s upset victory Dec. 19, and they are taking an unusual role in the transition to his inauguration today.

Meanwhile Freedom and Whisky links to a grumpy journalist complaining about blogging.

I WORRY about the internet. Useful it might be in many ways – make that some ways, rather like the occasional usefulness of a mobile phone – but the prat, nerd, geek, wonk, crank and fanatic count continues to rise inexorably.

People who surf the net for hours tell me that it is fascinating. Wrong. Unless you are looking for a specific piece of information that can be located within seconds by Google, the search engine which is a remarkable and useful invention, surfing simply wastes time.

Millions of people are apparently happy with that. They spend time on sites for sad people such as the “re-live your schooldays fantasy” of Friends Re-united, or track down weird theories about what’s wrong with the world, from global warming to athlete’s foot or how aliens are responsible for power cuts.

And they blog. Blogging, I’m told, is producing an online diary. Anyone can do it, inflicting the result on the world’s overloaded net rather like over-filling a slurry tank, to coin a farming metaphor.

Well, the man has a point. Not all blogs are as good as some blogs. But there are giveaway phrases: “I’m told” (he doesn’t really know about this stuff), “I worry” (yes, it’s not just harmless chit chat, his job could eventually go), and above all: “Anyone can do it” (!!!).

This bloke senses that the culture is shifting underneath him, and he doesn’t like it. The internet was fine when it was just a machine to help him write his columns. But what if millions of people out there would rather spend their time writing for a blog and reading other blogs, than reading his newspaper columns, or gawping uncritically at the television where his mates do their thing? What if people start having their own weird theories about everything, instead of getting them from him? Scary thoughts indeed.

His answer is: “Just say no.” Which never works.

8 comments to “Anyone can do it!”

  • Oh dear – if Harvard is teaching it, it must be passe and hackneyed. I’d better stop.

  • Byron

    heh. Was gonna say about the same thing.

    Instead I’ll just respond to the grumpy journalist:

    [gloat] HA HA HA HA! All your media are belong to us! You have no chance to survive make your time. [/gloat]

    Nice to see those conceited elitists squirming. They sacrificed their objectivity for their politics while attempting to maintain an image of impartiality, but people are seeing through it. Their game is up, their yarn is unraveling, and all they can do is play innocent and whine about it. Like a criminal who finally gets his day in court, refusing to admit his guilt in the face of a preponderance of evidence.

  • It is only a matter of time, though, before creeps like this journalist start lobbying the government to ‘do something’ about this ‘totally unregulated’ blogging thing.

    Expect lots of euphamisms like ‘democratic control’ to be bandied about and snide implications of ‘links’ to terrorism etc

  • First Harvard. Then the world. Perhaps the Canadian government could sponsor blogging initatives to blog-not communities in the far north and provide grants to bilingual bloggeurs. This could provide a critical cultural rampart to save us from a tide of cultural blog-perialism and enable the differently blog-vantaged thus far excluded from blogging due to having no writing talent and nothing to say.

    Wait, that won’t work… will somebody get on to the Academie Francaise and find out the approved French word for “blogging” so as to prevent the vulgarisation of la langue?

  • Tom Grey


    Google has bought Blogger! Prolly how/why Dave has time to go to Harvard.

    Prolly soon to be competition for Movable Type, etc.

  • I am not so much against journalists themselves…I am thinking, bloggers might find the floor fall out beneath them if direct journalists were to be ‘phased out.’ Samizdata is correct: some blogs are MUCH better than others, but what I have noticed is that a lot of them feed directly into the ‘main core’ media like AP, UPI etc. Not every blogger is able to jaunt off to get the goods on the story or interview the White House staff. If anything, bloggers spread the word far more quickly and what is funny to behold is when a journalist is caught in his misquotes, or his slant, and has to actually come upon the carpet to answer for it. I think THAT is what dismays a lot of them.

    I think this man worrying over losing his job has deeper concerns than that…like he has been sloughing off on the job, or writing with negligence, and his boss is wondering if this journalist is going to do any better for the company. But that guy will never admit it, to himself or the world, so he blames bloggers who are simply excersing the last frontier in human rights.

    sharon ferguson

  • Sharon’s mostly right. Bloggers generally feed off of the news, they don’t generate it. Then again, that’s true of most newspapers these days, at least in the U.S., where a few news services and high-profile papers lead everyone else. And how often do pundits report news? It happens, but not very.

    As always with a new technology, someone out there whines that it’s probably dangerous, and something should probably be done. Too bad. We’re subverting hierarchy, and we likes it.

    If someone could explain to me why surfing the net is less productive activity than sitting at home watching television in your spare time, perhaps I would agree with all these handwringing worryworts and paranoids. But it’s rather obvious that this is, in fact, a lot more intellectually engaging than most television–isn’t it?

  • I watch big brother