Category: Criticism debate

More fuel for the bloggers v. critics debate

Just before I left to head off to work this morning there was a discussion on Radio 4’s Today programme (it happened at 8.20 and you can listen to it online) about the differences between literary bloggers and traditional critics. This is a long running debate but the latest attempt to ignite the war of words failed mainly because the blogging representative from ReadySteadyBook.com was almost as qualified as the academic reviewer.

Of course there are people blogging with axes to grind and idiotic views to share. But unless you take everything you read completely on trust there is always the option to go elsewhere. The ability to share a gut reaction to a book is very powerful in some cases because it is raw analysis. Obviously being able to put it into a literary context is helpful but there is this is not an either or debate there is a place for both approaches.

As a blogger one of the things I have wrestled with is a feeling that more time needs to be spent producing long essay length posts about literature. The reason finally for deciding not to do those is not just because of time, and possibly a certain amount of talent lacking, but primarily because writing those type of posts never motivated me to start blogging in the first place.

Broadly there seem to be two types of blogs: those that are written for personal reasons – for instance just sharing the joy of books and reading – and those that are written with a firm eye on the commercial opportunities and traffic stats.

Maybe the problems occur in the first category but that’s where myself and lots of other fantastic bloggers are happy existing.

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Embracing or fearing?

Interesting email received this morning bearing in mind what is happening right now with the debate raging about lit bloggers and the value of their literary criticism with a media agency, immediate future, trying to work out the level of engagement UK journalists have made with blogging. A simple questionaire asks if you blog, if you know any other journalists that blog and if you don’t why not and will you in the future?
The results will either back up my fear of change theory or be surprising. I know what my money’s on.

Embracing or fearing?

Interesting email received this morning bearing in mind what is happening right now with the debate raging about lit bloggers and the value of their literary criticism with a media agency, immediate future, trying to work out the level of engagement UK journalists have made with blogging. A simple questionaire asks if you blog, if you know any other journalists that blog and if you don’t why not and will you in the future?
The results will either back up my fear of change theory or be surprising. I know what my money’s on.

The real reason for the attacks?

An interesting point is made on The Bibliosphere about the legitimacy of the research done by those people who are attacking lit bloggers. The thing about this debate is it is bigger, much bigger than just about lit blogs, but is about the future of the publishing industry. Writing as a print journalist (who writes about computer suppliers) I know that we are coming under pressure to move to the web and the strategy although unclear in the detail seems to be heading in only one direction – the web.

A large number of journalists don’t understand the web, don’t blog or MySpace so have no direct involvement with it but have obviously heard about it and seen the blogs grow in influence and reputation.

What they are really worried about is that the web will not only bring the barriers down and allow someone without their connections and position to write about the same subject publicly but when they finally make the move from paper, to paper and web and then maybe at one point in the future just web, there will be a lot of content already vying for the readers attention.

At that stage it becomes about hits, content and advertising and maybe in these sneering attacks on bloggers there is a growing recognition that there may come a day soon when they have to compete with bloggers more head-on and that is what is really scaring them so they are getting in now to discredit the emerging competition.

The real reason for the attacks?

An interesting point is made on The Bibliosphere about the legitimacy of the research done by those people who are attacking lit bloggers. The thing about this debate is it is bigger, much bigger than just about lit blogs, but is about the future of the publishing industry. Writing as a print journalist (who writes about computer suppliers) I know that we are coming under pressure to move to the web and the strategy although unclear in the detail seems to be heading in only one direction – the web.

A large number of journalists don’t understand the web, don’t blog or MySpace so have no direct involvement with it but have obviously heard about it and seen the blogs grow in influence and reputation.

What they are really worried about is that the web will not only bring the barriers down and allow someone without their connections and position to write about the same subject publicly but when they finally make the move from paper, to paper and web and then maybe at one point in the future just web, there will be a lot of content already vying for the readers attention.

At that stage it becomes about hits, content and advertising and maybe in these sneering attacks on bloggers there is a growing recognition that there may come a day soon when they have to compete with bloggers more head-on and that is what is really scaring them so they are getting in now to discredit the emerging competition.

More thoughts on the criticism debate

The more I think about it the more you have to come to the conclusion that what is motivating these people who attack literary bloggers is fear. The Internet allows you to have a shot at putting yourself in a shop window regardless of where you went to college, who you know or what you know – if you are no good then you will not get the traffic and fail. However if you are a worthwhile voice then what is wrong with providing a platform for you to share your thoughts and views? The only thing that could be wrong is you might actually challenge the cosy world of those that sit by the fireside in the literary club and fear new members joining.

If Web 2.0 can do anything it can level the playing field and those lit hacks holding onto their precious kingdoms need to face up to the changing world where not only will the way people communicate change but the names they search for might very well be different as well.

More thoughts on the criticism debate

The more I think about it the more you have to come to the conclusion that what is motivating these people who attack literary bloggers is fear. The Internet allows you to have a shot at putting yourself in a shop window regardless of where you went to college, who you know or what you know – if you are no good then you will not get the traffic and fail. However if you are a worthwhile voice then what is wrong with providing a platform for you to share your thoughts and views? The only thing that could be wrong is you might actually challenge the cosy world of those that sit by the fireside in the literary club and fear new members joining.

If Web 2.0 can do anything it can level the playing field and those lit hacks holding onto their precious kingdoms need to face up to the changing world where not only will the way people communicate change but the names they search for might very well be different as well.