Sunday, November 13, 2005

(J-)BlogoSphere - Help!

This post is a sticky. That means I'm keeping it at the top for the forseeable future, most likely through the weekend. Read it, and you'll see why...
[Scroll down for the latest from SerandEz]

I was recently asked to write an article for my college paper, the Lander Chronicle. Sadly, there are few writers in the school, so they ask me to write something every semester. This is not because I am a good writer - it's because I can write half-decently with proper spelling in a short period of time, and I'm stupid willing enough to put my name on it and not care that an extremely large readership of maybe fifty people will actually see it.

I asked if I could write about something different this time - namely, blogging. As I was discussing with the editor what the blogosphere was, I realized: What better way to discuss the blogosphere than to allow the blogosphere to contribute to the article? After all - the biggest strengths of the blogosphere are its abilities to almost instantly comment on, prove, improve, correct, or present an alternative to the statement of another blogger. Another strength is the sheer exposure to a multitude of viewpoints on any given subject from all ends of the spectrum.

I'd actually seen a similar idea discussed on another blog - Roger L. Simon was to be giving a speech on the power of blogs, and was considering having a live feed at the conference he was speaking at. He was going to adjust the speech as he spoke, based on the suggestions of the bloggers listening in on the other end. They would comment on a point he'd made, add their own ideas, etc. - it sounded like a great, innovative idea, and was suggested, naturally, when he asked for suggestions on his blog.

So why not have the blogosphere help contribute to a blog about it? My current idea was to begin with the blogosphere in general, perhaps with an example showing the pure power of bloggers (RatherGate? PorkBusters?), then shifting to a quick contrast of the three types of blogging (posting, linking, commenting), discussing some of the larger blogs perhaps (Instapundit, LGF, Kos?), and then shifting into the Jewish blogosphere.

I'm honestly not sure how to go about this - I would love to get as many people involved as possible, but I can't do a Wiki-type article, primarily because I have no clue how. Perhaps tomorrow I'll write up a general draft, and then have everyone comment. In the meantime, please submit any thoughts on what should or should not be included - the entire article is supposed to be about 1,200 words, but I can do whatever I want when it comes down to it.

One caveat: The best blogging article would include many hyperlinks. Sadly, this article will be in a printed paper, though I will post it here as well. I would love for it to have hyperlinks, and perhaps I will suggest in the article that people read it online to fully appreciate it - but it must make sense even in paper form.

Thanks! Suggest away!!

As a note: I'm going to mention very few blogs in the article, if only because mentioning too many will take away the focus of the article. I will use a few as examples, just to show the diversity and range that exists, particularly within the J-sphere itself. Again, any suggestions are welcome.

Heh. (Sorry, Glenn) Why do I have the feeling this is going to turn into an article about putting an article together on the blogosphere? (Which isn't a bad idea...)

[Now available at: Basil's, The Political Teen, Wizbang, StoptheACLU, MacStansbury, Big Dog, Point Five, Jo's, bRight and Early, THM's, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.]


  1. Don't get all Hunter S. Thompson on us here.

    I think one sensitive point is the "Darkside" of the j-blogosphere, where there are "frank discussions of emunah," to quote my Rebbe, and over which HWHL has his panties in a bunch. To me that is the most crucial part of the Jewish blogosphere because, quite frankly that is what makes it unique from other blogdoms. The anonymity (we hope) of the blogosphere makes it an ideal locus of ocnversation that cannot take place in real life.

    The unfortunate and obvious drawback is that you never know who you are talking to (except you, I'm pretty sure you aren't a 14 year old girl in Nigeria prepping me for a 419.

    I think that any article about the j-blogosphere should definitely include the sense of community that develops. GH's retirement showed that people can actually feel slightly emotional about pixels on their screen.

    The non-hashkafic sector of the j-blogosphere also attracts a community because it is a cheap and quick way to view local and global news through a lens we are familiar with- somewhat Jewish people.

    As to the power of blogs in general, from CBS to bloggers in Paris inciting riots, I think the power of the blog cannot be doubted.

    Communication over IP is going to change our planet.

  2. Thanks - all great points. Excellent start to this...

    Should I put up a rough draft of a post at some point? Or hold off for now, and wait for more suggestions as to what should be in before doing that?

  3. I would wait for more comments to better synthesize.

  4. I think that for many of us, blogging is like a fantasy writing career. I have 4 very different blogs. Do you want me to send to the blogger list I made up when hosting Havel Havelim?

  5. ezzie
    i would differentiate between "frank discussion of emunah" and "actively looking to convert one to have no emunah"
    I will respect that RTJB is looking for frank discussions.
    But there are bloggers whose blogs and intentions fall into the latter category.

    Then you have the leitzonisdika blogs.
    heshyshouse is one. (i just stumbled on to it, and there is no doubt he is the "heshy from boro park" of yore, i knew him when i was in my early 20's)

    basically saying on the web, what they talk about at the shabbos kiddush.

    There are the MO types.
    r' gil

  6. oh, and one more thing
    regarding rtjb, there is alot of frank discussions, but i dont see any blogs actually suggesting an alternative.

    This is my point of the jblog world.

    Easy to tear down, not so easy to build up.

    If there are, point them my way! Anonymouse suggested we teach our kids like in reform schools. Then they will have plenty of time to become BT.

  7. I think that one of the most interesting things about blogging is the chance to interact with the world and in particular the JBlog world gives Jews of all backgrounds a chance to peek inside the lives of others. There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings of what the life of a Satmar, MO, Reform, Conservative, BT, FFB Jew is like and this world gives us a chance to see what is on the other side of the curtain.

  8. Muse - please do!

    R2JB - Noted. I'm going to hold off on commenting for a bit on this, as well - allow more people to do so.

  9. HWHL, that used to be in GH's (pbuh) sidebar as part of an "emunah warning."

  10. I think an interesting aspect of the blogosphere is the fact that it seems to give so many the freedom to express their "true colors" in a way that they seem reluctant to do in real life, because of the anonymity involved. This, in turn, gives the readers the opportunity to see someone noone else ever really world.

    Also, I definitely think the online communities that are formed would be great to discuss. Ze'ev's recent post about that certainly rings true for me - the people I have met through the blogging world have be incredible additions to my life and I think the relationships that are formed are done do because of the similar goals and focus in bloggers' lives which comes through in their blogs and bonds bloggers together.

  11. You might also want to discuss how easy it is to start rumors and stop them via blogging. You certainly could make someone's life really miserable etc.

  12. You could go this route:
    a) types of blogs - anonymous; news/informative; outright argumentative; activist
    b) or give examples of major campaigns waged (mechitzah; mt. zion; disengagement)
    c) mention various efforts to coordinate and/or link up sites including awards, etc.
    d) and from "c" - does blogging improve Jewish unity or reflect basic discombobulation?

  13. You might find some of my blogs of interest. is an attem[pt to provide a "community" voice to Jewish residents of communities throughout Judea, Samaria and fomerly Gaza. The blog was similar both with over forty contributors. Blogs like were set up to corrdinate online protests and 'hasbara' initiatives.

    Best of luck on your endeavour

  14. I'm with Jack of the Shack on this one--I'm "meeting" Jews through the "Olam HaBlog" whom I'd never have the opportunity to get to know in real life. We tend to stay with our own kind in real life--be our "own kind" black-hat or apikorus/heretic. And we spend too much time looking down on one another. I may not always agree with some of the fine folks who comment on my blog, but it's a wonderful opportunity to learn from others, and to try to see Yahadut/Judaism through different eyes. Where else can you find Orthodox Jews and tallit-and-tefillin-wearing egalitarian Jewish women actually having a serious and respectful conversation concerning the Akedah with one another?

  15. Jewropean: I don't agree or disagree with you. I'd be curious what value secular education (or any education) has "in and of itself" if it serves no practical purpose. (Not saying it doesn't - just curious what others think...)