Mongrel and askal bloggers

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.


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9 Responses to Mongrel and askal bloggers

  1. ellumbra says:

    Woof! Woof! Grrrrrrr! Woof!

  2. BenK says:

    The real beauty of the Internet is that because anonymity or a contrived persona is so easy to maintain, one’s “credentials” or topical authority is reflected entirely in what he or she writes. A person with a respectable educational and career background and noteworthy personal and professional connections can come across like a complete ass online, while a barely-graduated-from-high-school nerd living in his Mom’s basement can come across like a genius, with a little bit of talent and some hard work. It really is the doing rather than the being that matters. Things like “blog awards”, or throwing around one’s bona fides online are completely pointless, if the product of those is petty and without substance.

  3. ChinoF says:

    I like the askal analogy… mavericks, loose guns, born wild, born free. We have to be free to get those ideas out. I’d add, Ben, that if personas could be contrived, awards might as well be contrived too. Anyway, awards are granted by a certain group, the ones that made and bestowed the award. It could never represent the whole populace of bloggers, nor could it represent any authority on blogging. It’s just an opinion… something any blogger is entitled to.

  4. benign0 says:

    Having said all of the above, it is still interesting to note that as usual the Philippines stood out as a special case.

    It is only recently (i.e. in the advent of the rise of as a significant force of world-class thinking) that blogging technology was put to good use. For the last ten years demagogues posing as “anti-Establishment” bloggers dominated the chatter in the Pinoy blogosphere. These voices that advocated emo politics and other forms of primitivism (following the leads of their daddies and their golf buddies in the MSM Establishment) succeeded specatcularly in fooling the Pinoy public and led them into these moronic ocho-ocho rallies and dimwitted patalsikin na, now na ideologies that pretty much characterised the first decade of 21st Century Philippines.

    In short, the technology was there but Pinoys used if for their usual australopithecine thinking for the most part of the last 10 years. It takes people like us — people who think — to progressively CLARIFY what’s for so long been MUDDLED by these so-called “experts”.

  5. euthymic says:

    Re whether pedigrees survive in the wild, I would suggest you read my piece, The Dogs of Romania in my blog Also, since you welcome critiques, I actually responded to one of your pieces on Filipino Parenting and it is in my other blog, It is entitled “Filipino Parenting and Wimpification.”

    • rafterman says:

      Good day kind sir. I went to your blog and I would just like to reply to your comment about AP writers using pseudonyms. In my case, I find it easier to emotionally detach from my published thoughts if I use a handle. I used to post with my real name and when I did that I couldn’t help but keep checking for replies and answering them right away for some reason. When I started using a handle, I can very easily compartmentalize my on-line life and offline life.

      I am not a journalist by profession anyway and I really do not care about getting credited for what I write. I just want to put thoughts out there for people do digest on (or vomit if they find them unfit for their consumption).

      Even Filipino Heroes used pseudonyms
      Emilio Aguinaldo – Rosalia Magdalo
      Marcelo H. del Pilar – Plaridel; Dolores Manapat
      Jose Rizal – Dimasalang; Laong-Laan
      Antonio Luna – Tagailog
      Apolinario Mabini – Paralitico

      The point is, it does not matter who the messenger is, it is the message that really should matter. How many poems, mathematical systems, works of art and acts of heroism were done by people who remain unsung? The unknown soldier lying in his tomb does not make his deeds less valuable just because his name was obscured by circumstance.

      If you have watched 2001 A Space Oddyssey, the initial scene showed a group of apes finding a monolith that was apparently placed there by unknown alien beings. When they touched the monolith’s flawlessly smooth surface and observed its perfectly right angles, it gave them the realization that a higher form of intelligence exists. From that moment of epiphany, they learned to use tools and later on evolve into higher species.

      Filipinos finding could be like the monkeys finding the monolith in 2001. Even though they do not know who put it there, it will give them a realization that they too can use their intelligence to make their country as close to perfection and flawlessness as they can.

  6. elle says:

    well pointed out. good to know there are still Filipinos who think for themselves rather than for what the society dictates or calls. sa mga nakikita ko, nakakalungkot lang isipin na karamihan sa atin ay nagbubulag bulagan sa totoong nangyayari sa paligid naten, kung ano lang ung sikat at lageng nakikita sa media eh dun na rin kakampi, kailangan na nateng paganahin ulet ang natutulog nateng mga isip.

  7. mel says:

    This is good to refresh a blogger’s motivation.

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