I received quite a number of good-quality commentary on my recent article The Establishment Blogger defined and I thought I’d honour those who took the time (and put in the thinking) to provide great feedback with a follow-up article.
There is only one key point that I want to make when writing about my favourite online activity. It is that it is important to always keep yourself subject to critical review — which, if you think about it, is the whole point of the comment facility in blogs. The blogger publishes his views and commenters keep him or her honest. Simple, isn’t it? It always becomes simple, really, whenever we take the time to reflect and get back to the basics. Perhaps that is something that the Philippine Mainstream Media (MSM) needs to re-visit. It has become a sorry excuse for its original role as the information dissemintation infrastructure of Pinoy society — inbred, hierarchical, and infested with personal agendas, vested interests, and incestuous relationships among its owners.
Mainstream Media still has its uses as long as we remain aware of how its quality assurance mechanism profoundly differs with that of emergent media such as blogs and digital social networks. Newspapers, magazines and television/radio news programs are edited media — i.e. their content is subject to editorial review and modification by a hierarchy of editors and other stakeholders. In principle that ensures that the accuracy and soundness of what is published or broadcast is assured. In the case of the MSM, validity is engineered into content.
In contrast, the validity and soundness of content in an unedited medium such as blogs is assured by natural selection. Like its genetic counterpart, memetic selection is messy and slow. It takes time and lots of competition for the process to come around to yielding quality. And even then, quality in such an environment does not follow any pre-conceived notions. Quality is inherent to the nature of the environment (and the competition within it) — which is why blogs cannot be subject to the same kinds of thinking applied to MSM. You cannot really hang medals on true bloggers because the real ones defer to their audience and the feedback they receive from them rather than to the approval of a contrived hierarchy.
Succes, for example, is when an idea “goes viral”. The term “going viral” precisely reflects the Darwinian nature of the “new” media. Viruses are arguably the most successful genetic patterns in the biosphere — because of their ability to transmit and replicate themselves at a pace that outstrips their enemies’ (and the natural roadblocks of their environment’s) ability to hinder their propagation. Ideas that survive, propagate, endure, and dominate in the blogosphere also do so following the same mechanism.
Perhaps those contrived hierachies built to recognise “good quality” blogs can be likened to dog breeders. Dog breeders, comprise the artificial selective agent, that yielded the hundred-odd pedigreed breeds of dogs. These breeds are prized for their beauty and utlity to humans, but their appeal follows preconceived notions of what is “desirable” (what we call taste) in a dog. However as any owner of a pedigreed dog can attest to, such animals are less likely to survive left on their own in the wild than their less-prized mongrel (“askal”) cousins. Pedigreed dogs are almost entirely dependent on human care — human formulated dog chow, lots of veterinary care, grooming, etc. Indeed, some dogs bred for “cuteness” like pugs and pekingese — which, because of their lack of protruding jaws, live their entire lives drooling and having difficulty breathing — were done up at the expense of their practical survival value.
Nature, in short, has her own opinion of what is desirable in a dog — and often the criteria she imposes do not necessarily agree with our polite human tastes. As such, mongrel askals can survive feeding on leftover human food and even on garbage. They can live to a ripe and robust old age without a single visit to the veterinarian.
And that’s what a true blogger is…
A true blogger is a mongrel, an askal — one who does not depend on acceptance within established hierarchies to survive, prosper, and even dominate its environment.
Too bad for those who’ve had their teeth bred out of them by the Establishment, as they will go through life drooling and yipping on the laps of the masters whose delight is the whole point of their existence.