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May 05, 2006

 

Blogcritics: The Rise of Elitist Power and Control



Some have contended that blogging began in an atmosphere of democratic equalitarianism. Lately, some websites in the world of blogging have declared themselves to be much more accomplished or worthy than others. The claims vary from having members with more superior writing skills, to having large coverage, to being the most “popular” blogs.

Blogcritics (Blogcritics.org) is a glaring example of the first type of arrogance. It presumptuously advertises itself as a malicious clique “of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, technology, and politics.” How seriously superior are Blogcritics writers? Judge for yourself by these two extracts from articles published last month:

1. John Lennon Message from the Great Beyond?
April 25, 2006

Now, this is one of the strangest things I have heard in a long time. While I am skeptical about all things supernatural, it strikes me as imprudent to dismiss alleged out-of-this-world occurrences out of hand. Sure, there are lots of kooks and gullible souls - and charlatans too - but more is happening in the cosmos than humankind will ever completely understand.

[Imagine John Lennon working for peace from the grave...] The Evening Standard's This Is London reports that psychics claim John Lennon, the activist and musician assassinated in 1980, sent the world a message from...well, from wherever he is right now. The message reportedly was broadcast via a worldwide pay-per-view seance produced by UK firm Starcast Productions and shown on US television last night. And what did the former Beatle have to say?

"Peace...the message is peace."

2. My Love Affair With Dr. Martens
April 02, 2006

For my 30th birthday a very dear friend gave me a pair of shoes. They were dirty and ripped, the soles were completely worn out and they smelled of 15 years worth of feet. In fact they used to be my shoes before I gave them to this friend. Yet as he passed these old, degenerate shoes to me I couldn't help but beam with appreciation.

Rewind about 12 years to 1994. I was a senior in high school. Nevermind had been out for a couple of years, Grunge and alternative were still all the rage. My wardrobe was full of flannel, t-shirts, baggy pants and sneakers. At the time I was well into a pair of skater-styled Vans. The hair was long, the attitude sullen.

Enter Dr. Marten. I had eyed many a pair of those brown leather beauties many a time. But at over $100 a pair, neither my wallet nor my mother was willing to shed that kind of dough.

Ah but my brother, the savior of footwear, the beater of siblings, tormentor of all things me, came through like a mackerel in cheese. He gave me my first pair of Dr. Martens, and he didn't even charge me a dime, or a wet willie.

It seems my brother had received the shoes as a gift from a buddy. The buddy had bought them and worn them for a year or so before he decided to buy a new pair. My brother, likewise, wore the shoes for another year or so before deciding to buy his own new pair.

I loved those shoes. They fit so well with my whole style in those days. They were comfortable, wore well, felt great on my size 11 feet, and looked pretty stinking cool.

After three years, I finally decided to get myself a new pair. I did the loyal thing and promptly gave the old pair to my roommate. He wasn't quite so dedicated to the now five-year-old, fourth generation shoes as I was, but they were donned by his feet at least once a week for the next year. Yes, he liked them so much he bought himself a new pair of Doc Martens. Yes, he gave the old pair to a mutual friend….At this point I lost touch with the shoes.

When I opened the bag that was my birthday present and found those shoes, I couldn't help but get a tear in my eye. Once the smell of six pairs of feet over many sweaty years wafted away, I got a big grin on my face and knew I was looking at the best present ever.

Coming home to my little den, I placed the old Doc Martens next to the pair I bought in their stead, some ten years prior. A pair I still wear to this day.


Judging from those articles published by Blogcritics, who on earth could dispute its claim to be the home of the most seriously superior writers in the world of blogs? Well, maybe, me for one….

The second claim to being the most worthy are those sites that proclaim their immense size of blog coverage. Technorati.org is a prime example of a site that makes this pompous claim: “What's happening right now: Currently tracking 37.6 million sites and 2.4 billion links.”

Then, finally, there are the blogs which aspire to nudging themselves up into the ranks of the “most popular,” as judge by the number of links to them that they can manage to accumulate. Technorati, for example, regularly lists the the 100 most popular blogs in the kingdom of blogs or, as they put it: “The biggest blogs in the blogosphere, as measured by [the number of] unique links in the last six months.”

The conclusion of this brief overview is that blogging appears be an electronic media format that has undergone a regrettable transformation from its early atmosphere of equality and democratic participation, to its present position characterized by politicized claims by some major blogger websites of superiority, domination and control.

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