Saturday, November 22, 2008

The next step for ProgBlogs or just another of my stupid ideas?

Throughout history it seems that the prevailing power structures have sought to suppress the voices of progressive change. That they should do this is natural enough. Why should they give up their power without being made to?

But on the other side of the debate, those seeking to improve society have, during periods of technological innovation, been able to use these new tools to connect with the vast majority of the population that desire the kind of change these "radicals" propose.

The invention of the printing press by Guttenburg led to Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Voltaire, Paine and Jefferson distributed pamphlets to spread their ideas of freedom from tyranny. These pamphelteers were able to bypass the controls of the monarchy by encouraging people to pass the leaflets on to their friends. These people used the equivalent of a social networking method, such as Facebook, to spread their message.

To an extent, the rise of the Kennedys had an assist from the new media of television in the defeat in the non-telegenic Nixon. The news departments of the television networks at the time were filled with real journalists and hadn't ossified into the Gestetner machines of today. During the last US election cycle, Obama was able to use Youtube and other internet tools to bypass the bias of the corporately controlled television and print media.

Closer to our own time and place, Trudeau was able to mount his challenge to Duplessis through the publication of Cite' Libre.

Which brings us to 2008. During the last election we witnessed the effects of a corporately controlled media on our democracy with CTV orchestrating an attack on Dion in order to assist the election of Stephen Harper. (Although to be fair the Liberal Party's white knight who will mop up the floor with the conservatives tells us this is all sour grapes). This leads to the question; "How can we use the internet and associated programs, such as Youtube, Facebook and the like to broach the media wall?".

Since I discovered Progressive Bloggers through a comment on Daily Kos by Scott Tribe in ~2003 (I think) with the tag line to check it out, I have found this site to be a wonderful way to stay in touch with the depredations of the Conservatives, find out what is going on with the Liberals and learn about other fascinating issues I would never otherwise have come across. Without ProgBlogs, I would never have read about boys with autism in New Brunswick, found out facts about daily life as a committed environmentalist etc.

But we are all singing to the choir here. When I ask people who voted Conservative or didn't vote at all what they thought of the $300 million cost of the election and the illegality of it or Cadman or In and Out or the effect of the GST cut on the probability of a deficit even without the meltdown, these intelligent people didn't have a clue. When it is explained to them they are outraged. When I talked to them about Dion and explained the Green Shift they were intrigued. The need to get our message out beyond our world is real and it would produce benefits if successful.

How can this be made to happen? It is unlikely that exposing our friends and relatives to the Prog Blog website would get people up to speed on the issues. The community is too vibrant and the posts come too fast to engage people who are not already motivated to follow these issues. We would need to find ways to highgrade the best of the posts and circulate them to "ordinary Canadians". If bloggers are interested in trying to do this, I can think of two ways one based on individual initiative and the second as a group project.

The first would be up to individual bloggers to undertake. It would involve is the use of Facebook to to periodically let their friends know of very goods ideas brought up on the site by psoting links for their friends to read

The second would be a larger project and would require a group to put together a monthly compendium of the best articles to make available for people to circulate by their friends. This document could then be circulated by email or on Facebook or other sites.

What do you think? Is it a way to carry on the underground traditions of past movements or just a waste of electrons. Perhaps the concept is there but the internet methodology is unworkable. I would appreciate any comments.Recommend this Post


Skinny Dipper said...

I like the idea of collecting the best blogs over a week or month and have them posted on a unique site of some kind. Perhaps the highest rated blogs could be nominated or posted. I mention "nominated" because some highly rated blogs become redundant after a certain date while other less rated blogs still have relevance for a longer period of time.

Mark from Slap said...

I remember a poll on the PB site about a year ago asking what should go in the left-hand column, as they thought there was too much whitespace. (It's still whitespace, of course, so I guess nothing ever came of it.) For what it's worth, I suggested it should be the N most hightly rated stories from the past two weeks.

While the day's top stories should always be the main focus, it's unfortunate that the truly special posts get pushed off the front page so quickly.

Robert McClelland said...

There's nothing wrong with your ideas but Progblogs is not the place for them. They'd work better at places like Liblogs and New Democrats Online. Otherwise there would be constant bickering between the two groups--and the non partisan progbloggers as well--over what content should be included.

Constant Vigilance said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I like the idea of having them nominated and having a separate website. Probably taking the highest rated ones of the week should be criteria in sifting through the posts. With a separate website it might encourage people to read it on a feed basis. Perhaps the authors of the selected posts could be encouraged to flesh them out a bit if they wish.

I agree about the good posts getting pushed off the front page. This especially seems to happen during times of intense political activity.


You are correct about the bickering potential. If the best posts are ghettoized on each parties particular aggregator we wouldn't get the advantage of a unified front. We would benefit most from a united non-partisan front.

I think we would need a board to select the posts with a rep from each party and perhaps some non-aligned ones. This may be cumbersome though.

Skinny Dipper said...

If we could encourage the moderators to select the best-of-the-best blog postings, I'm sure they could choose one or two per day that can be posted on the left hand side. Afterall, they had to be a judge of good blogs from different ideological backgrounds when they applied for a moderator position.

I did notice during the Canadian and American elections that the blogs that achieved the minimum three votes were sometimes only displayed on the main section for only three hours. I do give credit to the Blogging Tories site where posting can be displayed on the homepage for 12 to 24 hours. May I suggest that PB have more than 15 postings in the main section so that more people can get a chance to view them?

Skinny Dipper said...

Thanks, Constance. I didn't see your reply until I posted my second comment.

ADHR said...

Something akin to Digg/Reddit might be useful here. They have a feed available which just pushes the top stories -- so, ones which the community has ranked highly. That also comprises the front page of both sites. Something like that for Canadian politics would be a good idea, methinks.