Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why

Part One

For the last several years, I've burned the midnight oil creating a collection of directories called Community Color. The goal of this project is to explore the way that local communities are reflected on the web. I am from the Mountain West. I was born in Denver and have lived in a variety of towns in the Mountain West. So the effort concentrates on communities Mountain West. In this project I've indexed a variety of towns that I consider to be cultural centers of the area.

The goal is to show the diversity of things that exist in a community. The directories are inclusive. I list any site I find from or about a community (well, except porn or hate sites). These community directory are my primary statement about the direction we should be taking on the web.

In 2003, I decided to start a blogspot blog. I had spent so much time on the local community (with absolutely no reward for the effort) that I decided to just do a mind fart blog on whatever.

As with most mind fart blogs, whatever often turns out to rants about national politics.

I had a progressive education. In my progressive education, I was taught a propaganda technique called "Critical Thinking." The idea behind critical thinking is to criticize American culture, the free market and people on the right. Being hypercritical of America is supposed to somehow lead to social justice and progress.

I finally realized that critical thinking and progressivism are both dead ends. But I have yet to learn a new writing style.

The reason I mention this is that my blog and community sites have completely different bents. The blog concentrates more on national issues and universal thought and is often negative. The community sites focus on the community and are of a more positive nature.

There actually is a message in this. It is my belief that the best way to affect change is to think locally and act locally.

Unfortunately, the message of the two efforts get in the way of each other. Most people who read my blog simply think I am a jerk.

Part Two

IMHO, the primary value of a blog is in the field of social networking.

For that matter, if I were to give a single message about blogging, i would say the best approach to the art form would be to concentrate one's effort on blogging about the local community. There is very little need for people to blog about national politics. Contrary to our education. Critical thinking posts generally just lead to partisanship.

I think there is a greater value in blogs about the good things in the local community.

IMHO a great blog would have links to all of the little hidden treasures in a community, and should have a blog role with other local sites. I am not doing that with this blog because I do so with the directories. Capiche?

Blog Role

Anyway, this "why" post is to explain why I am not doing this blog the way I think blogs should be done.

The reason, of course, is that the community directories are my community effort. I do not have a blog role on this site because the community directories list well over three hundred blogs. I really didn't want to waste time doubling up the effort and listing all the blogs twice.

I just created a blogs page which is a master index to the blogs to which I link. The total is currently 350. Yes, I've read a large number of posts in all of them.

Next: The answer as to why I don't have a blog role is that the community directories are my blog role.

Next: Why is this blog so icky? Well, it is just a mind fart blog.

Finally: Why did I just write this post: Well, I wrote this post so that I could link to it from my blog index.

4 comments:

Reach Upward said...

I disagree that blogging about national politics is unneeded. I blog to get a better grasp on what I actually think and why I think it. Writing forces me to parse things out. It helps me to drop less useful philosophies and develop more useful philosophies. I learn much be reading. I learn even more by writing, even if no one else read what I write.

y-intercept said...

I think there is a great deal of value for individuals to write about national and international politics.

The writing produced, however, is less valuable than the writing that encourages people to look at area where they live.

It is perfectly fine for a flow of conscious blog to be on whatever.

People who are writing blogs with the idea that the blog would affect change would do better blogging about local charities.

BTW, I've read good portions of the 350 blogs referenced on my directory, and I am finding no one talking about the many charities and local organizations that really make our communities go 'round.

In contrast the first round of "homepages" that appeared on net last decade had tons of local. Today, they don't. Something seems to have changed for the worse.

The lack of local posts made me feel obliged to explain why I personally don't have many posts on local doings. The question really is "Why am I such a hypocrite?"

Raymond Sebond said...

"I had a progressive education. In my progressive education, I was taught a propaganda technique called "Critical Thinking." The idea behind critical thinking is to criticize American culture, the free market and people on the right. Being hypercritical of America is supposed to somehow lead to social justice and progress."

First, I certainly did not have the same education as you. Critical thinking, in any form, was not taught in my school. It may have led to a questioning of authority. Rather, my education (high schoool in particular)was centered around doing what you were told and no asking why?

But I think critical thinking is not simply anti-American propoganda. And, as I may have a different view of this concept, I define critical thinking as: using reasoning and logic to examine a problem from multiple perspectives to develop evidence to suggest a possible mode of action and/or discover the best ends to pursue.

Many times I've been asked, "Why do you hate America," or "Don't you think America is the best country?" The answer is I love America and I think we're one of the best countries ever constructed (I find it difficult to say we're number one for various reasons) but I always tell the people asking me these questions, "I just think we can always do better." This, I think, is the argument for critical thinking.

You argue, "The idea behind critical thinking is to criticize American culture, the free market and people on the right." But it seems necessary to be able to find faults in our society and culture in order to make it better. It seems positively unamerican to simply believe everything is great and cannot be impoved. Being hyercritical of American may be overkill, but being critical of America is most certainly the first step to obtaining social justice and making progress.

E.g., if one I desire to be a better writer the first step I must take it to be critical of my writing. If I simply think I am great I may become a better writer as I write more but not the writer I could be if I find the things that most need improved - a discovery that can only come through critical thinking, so it seems to me.

y-intercept said...

Raymond,

What you described as "critical thinking" is precisely what people were doing in traditional analysis.

This tradtional analysis was the foundation of education from the Middle Ages through to the modern era.

The foundation of classical education was a thing called "The Trivium." The three legs of the Trivium are grammar, logic and rhetoric.

The foundations of classical education was to give students the tools to be able to see and discuss issues from multiple perspectives.

The critical thinking in vogue today simply makes buzz words out of what traditional education actually accomplishes.

As for your observation that you were not taught logic in primary or high school:

Yes, this is exactly the problem. The left wing Dewey revolution and the NEA yanked logic out of the classroom. They replaced the study of logic with this absurdity called "critical thinking."

This buzzword "Critical Thinking" came in vogue during the process of removing the classes that taught critical thinking skills from the classroom.

Yes, I believe that you went to a public school that did not teach logic. This transition took place about 75 years ago.

There are only a few private schools that continue to teach informal logic as part of primary education.

If Utah voted for the voucher law, a larger number of students would be learning real critical thinking skills (i.e., logic). It is sad.