One of the most bizarre developments of the internet is the use of personal publishing by those of a particular mindset to attack personal publishing itself. A classic nest of this sect being at Guardian United Talk, of all places. This hilarious thread showcases a cacophany of codgers blowing in the wind.
They simply don't seem to understand that the world of personal publishing exists and every blog, website, networking account, flickr account, 2nd Life account, Youtube account and even messageboard thread are all basically the same. All different versions of online publishing, and will go on until someone pulls the plug. And everything they published will be as different as the people who publish it. What is the point of objecting to others using the same medium they use to object with? They could criticise each post or issure or opinion on its own merits if they were as high-minded and sophisticated as they claim, but they don't, so they're not.
The comments function is there to prove me wrong.
There is a segment who merely rail against the general existence of blogs and all personal publishing, and the temerity oiks to publish whatever they want. Which is a bit like an old man getting annoyed at the vitality of the young.
And on messageboards, they constantly use their mean-spirited puritan negativity to try to distract the dialogue away from any constructive purpose. Like trying to dam a river by throwing a shopping trolley into it. Sadly, they are just classic reactionaries, and the louder they squeal, the more likely it is that universal publishing is working. The biggest joke is that they don't understand is that they are part of the process which offends them. Perhaps they feel they are the elite of global personal publishing. And that their opinions matter more, for some reason. Let's leave them content with that.
The simple lesson is, if you don't like it, don't read it. It's not costing you a penny, so while you still have your unexercised right to criticise, you don't have any right to complain.
Occasionally they will concede that 'a good writer will probably make a good blogger' - as if blogging was about writing, and as if the main point was to write 'well'.
The earth-shattering message behind the moth-eaten 'expertise' is that interesting words are interesting. That some people's opinions are more worth reading than others. The same head-banging platitude applies in print or anywhere else. With one proviso, anyone publishing in any media will get better at it. If they are denied access, as all but a few are in print, they won't. So overall the effect of personal publishing is to increase the general level of communications skills. Where this will lead, who knows, but some people are obviously feeling very worried about it - otherwise there wouldn't be such a level of hysteria at the word 'blog'.
When cornered, a few will eventually begin to talk about the validity of the individual opinions on blogs, as opposed to the medium itself, and parade their own unverifiable credentials while still being unable to ever find or quote what most offends them or say why. That is obviously not a condemnation of the medium, and is an implicit admission that without weblogs, those opinions wouldn't be available for criticism in the first place. The simple fact is that a blog is the sum of its content, it is possible to take exception to issues a post raises or opinions the writer expresses, but not with the medium, or even the 'blog' itself, unless every post is saying the same thing, which I've never seen.
As for the purely snooty charge of triviality, it not only betrays a deep contempt for the lives ordinary people lead, and the honest fun they get from expressing it in words or images and publishing the result, but also for the motives of the historian looking for the letters home of soldiers in the Crimea. Or modern journalists looking to find the truth past the barrier of 'embedded' reporting in Iraq or Afghanistan. Most of all, it is as suspicious of diversity and promiscuity as a Victorian beadle. The implication being that the internet is far too full of people above their station, who don't know their place, and who have no regard for the sensitivities of their betters. They refuse to be significant enough, and therefore all blogging is rubbish. That is pretty much the line.
This is dangerously close to a lurch back into primitive superstition. You see a black cat on the same day you fall off your horse - black cats are bad luck. The fact you were drunk has nothing to do with it. The devil in the shape of the cat is to blame.
I suppose this is a natural reaction in the face of such powerful medicine as the internet.
But great Sitting Bull must understand that the days of his people's mastery over the great lands of the buffalo are over. The great Iron Horse is here. And will bring with it many settlers who will share the land with Sitting bull and his people, or else.