The underrated value of blogs for reading

In the context of the interesting and useful discussion on the Critical Geography list around the question of “why blog?“I would underline their value (and that of micro-blogging site Twitter) for reading. As much as writing blogs/Twitter is useful for the various ways mentioned on Crit-geog (supplement to activism, thinking ideas through) is their value for consumption.

Frankly there are blogs that have established themselves over the course of time as on a level with or beyond traditional news sources. These blogs provide news, information, critique and political influence. Take, for just one example, Glenn Greenwald’s blog now hosted on Salon, but originally on Blogspot.com. Today’s entry provides context and details about Bradley Manning’s conditions of confinement (including sustained nudity while on videorecorded inspection) that I’ve not seen documented elsewhere (granted I don’t have cable TV).

Greenwald now regularly appears on major TV programs (and Steven Colbert!), goes on college lecture tours (I invited him to GSU but we weren’t able to bring him over from Brasil where he resides due to the US refusal to recognise his partner as a spouse for immigration purposes) and engages with a wide variety of people in power.

The same thing with Twitter. When I joined as an experiment I was very dubious–why should I read about somebody having a cup of coffee or whatever? Again, I’ve been stunned and gratified to see how useful it is for information and news. For example, during the Tahrir Square protests you could be watching an Al-Jazeera journalist such as Ayman Moyeldin on camera but then 30 seconds later with a Tweet update from the square that gave a very tangible sense of being there.

So why blog? Because from a reader’s perspective you’re providing critical news and information!

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2 responses to “The underrated value of blogs for reading

  1. Hi there Jeremy

    For myself, these sort of ‘crit-blogs’ act as entry points into debates that no doubt take place within the academy but are too often locked-away. Their value comes from providing neat starting positions with which to investigate further. I’m an MSc student in GIS at the University of Manchester (I presume you know/are aware of Chris Perkins’ and Martin Dodge’s work), and especially when working at the digital/mapping interface, it becomes important to hear voices from ‘inside’ privileged positions and outside of, too.

    Also, The Royal Academy of Engineers in the UK have today published a report on society’s over-reliance on spatial technologies/GPS/GNSS. How did I find this out? Certainly not from their own website – but yeah, a blog (spyblog.org.uk). Some interesting questions relating to back-up systems, integration of GPS signals into all manner of data, financial and transport networks, the robustness of infrastructure etc.

    Cheers
    Sam

  2. Thanks Sam. I think you’re right about voices from inside the academy, and as others have noted blogs can attract readerships far in excess of articles and even books.

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