Jeet Heer writes a remembrance/obituary for blogging. Particularly the sort of first-generation blogging that emerged in 2002-03 or so, largely in the wake of 9/11 and the runup to the Iraq War, largely written by folks who, like him, worked at the New Republic and places like that in the 1990s.
It’s a fine enough piece that makes a lot of good observations about that world. A world of which I am, without question, a product and to which I owe my career. The degree, however, to which old school bloggers romanticize blogging is comical.
Yes, that generation of bloggers was on the scene as media rules were rewritten, but something else would’ve come along to rewrite them if it wasn’t the particular form of blogging that came along at that time. The voices would’ve been there in other forms and may very well have come from different people. The voices are still there in new forms. They’re just not the voices of a bunch of dudes who worked together at the New Republic in the 1990s. We place too much emphasis and importance on the medium as opposed to the message. We place too much emphasis on *specific* voices from members of our own cliques or tribes as opposed to new voices in general.
I have much love for all of those writers. And it’s impossible to deny that my tenure in this business and my demographic profile make me a lot more like them than it makes me like the emerging social media and YouTube superstars of today. But old school bloggers sound increasingly like old rock and rollers lamenting that the new stuff isn’t as good as it was in the 1960s. Like old ballplayers lamenting that young players aren’t as firey as they were in the 1980s. Like old newspaper reporters saying, in 2003, that bloggers don’t serve as noble and vital a role that reporters did in 1973.
Bloggers in 2003 would’ve torn such misty-eyed nostalgia to shreds.