One more for the blogroll

Via the always wonderful Acephalous, I found this very interesting blog: Zunguzungu. Straight to the feedreader.

He has just posted two wonderful, knowledgeable, well-written posts on the situation in Kenya. "What I don’t know, the Washington Post doesn’t know even more" is pretty much the opinionated version of the article we should have had in our morning papers today. "Fears of Regional Instability as Iowa explodes into Ethnic Violence" is the one we did have, wizh a twizt.


More generally, I've been very encouraged lately by finding, in a short period of time: e.g. The Edge of the American West, Paul Krugman, Zunguzungu... blogs* which are written by people who are

a) Experts in their fields. As well as
b) polymaths, knowledgeable in other fields.
c) Write really well.

This gives me hope that the blogosphere is capable of moving both towards the netroots-organization of e.g. Daily Kos, but also towards some sort of new mode of public expert intellectuals who participate in the day-to-day changing of the rhetorical guard, of analysing the news and responding to the ideas of others. People who have, say, academic knowledge, but still choose not to waste their talents on the Journal of the Econometric Analysis of Advanced Eggplant Parmesan, as Michael Bérubé put it, but engage in public discourse because that's where knowledge is put to use and makes a difference in politics and in the discourse which shapes it. And these people see the value of placing themselves in the public sphere exchange of blogging: it is like open-source thinking. You work out loud and share your ideas.

And what I find so heartening is that the progressive netroots movement in the US, like Kos or Atrios, is so actively converging on the experts, using them, and responding to and being responded to by them. Paul Krugman's** ideas are routinely being thrown around and responded to in the netroots' discussions, while Krugman, on the other hand, responds to the ideas and movements in the progressive blogosphere, just as likely to quote Kos or Atrios as he is to quote some obscure economical article (from the aforementioned Journal of Econometric Analysis of Advanced Eggplant Parmesan), or other blogging intellectuals like Brad DeLong or Ezra Klein. Blogging expert intellectuals have been around for a while now, but the rate of interplay between the institutional intelligentsia and the political activists is, I think, somewhat new, and it's a Good Thing. I'm hopeful it will revitalise the stagnant public sphere of the US, and I think I see something similar starting to happen (although slower) in Scandinavia now.

* What is the collective noun for blogs? A trackback of blogs? A rumour of blogs? A flamewar of blogs? You decide.

** I just finished his book tonight. I'll try to post on it in a day or two.

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Anonymous aaron said...

Thanks for your kind words! I'm new to the blogosphere, relatively, so I'm still trying to get my bearings (I don't even have a blogroll). But while I've also been impressed by the kinds of information you can find from blogs about the two last political crises in Kenya and Pakistan, I feel like there's still such a cult of personality at this stage (though I mean that in the best way). I read people Chapati Mystery abtou Pakistan and kenyanpundit.com about kenyan stuff, but they each are so unique that there doesn't seem to yet be anything like a critical mass of them to do all the "civil society" things that the MSM's failings make possible (or, rather, make necessary). I suppose that's asking a lot, but for example, Ori at kenyanpundit just left Kenya to return to South Africa, and who can blame her, because she's got kids and can't drop everything to cover the meltdown anyway. You can't replace investigative journalism with part time bloggers, though (especially after the Times' recent hiring) I would gladly outsource the MSM's editorial pages straight to el blogosphereo. With no regerets.

January 06, 2008 3:26 am  

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