Guesties: Codpieces and Storage Wars

Posted: July 27, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

By Matt Cecil
Guest blogger

According to a 2010 study, at any given moment there are more than 450 million personal blogs available for you to ignore on the Interwebs. Here is some context to help you comprehend that staggering number:

  • That is one blog for every 18 human beings on the planet; or
  • That is 1.5 blogs for every person in the U.S.; however …
  • An estimated 400 million of those blogs are operated by Terry Vandrovec.

That’s a joke, of course. In reality, Terry only posts about 300,000 items a year via his current stable of blogging and social media outlets.

Broadly speaking, blogging has a nasty and largely well-deserved reputation for complete irrelevance. No one needs to know about your strange interest in medieval codpieces or your unrequited love for that “Yyyyuuuuupppp!” guy from Storage Wars. Save that private stuff for social media, where Mark Zuckerberg will be happy to share it with your grandma.

My purpose here today is to suggest that there are pockets of utility scattered among the vast, gaping, empty, hopeless, narrow, self-centered, self-indulgent world of the blogosphere.

More specifically, I want to argue that many of the blogs that might be considered interesting or useful are written by someone who has been trained as a journalist. Before you stop reading, let me say that I am well aware that the term, “journalist” does not inspire confidence in many these days. Rupert Murdoch’s phone hacking douchebaggery is merely the latest stain on the practice. There is also no denying that the general consensus is that the mainstream media is going the way of the Alaotra Grebe. (I’m going to let you Google that one.)

But what is a journalist, anyway? Let us define journalist as: An informed storyteller. Why are journalists useful? Because you are lazy and self-centered. You would rather spend time fishing with your son than read a campaign finance report. You would rather watch cats playing piano on YouTube than call somebody to find out how much your daughter’s tuition will be increasing next year. You would choose abdominal surgery over attendance at a city council meeting. Journalists do stuff like that for you. (And on behalf of all journalists, let me say: You are welcome, you lazy bum.)

Many journalists become experts in their areas of interest, in part because of their access to useful information and authoritative people that most of us lack. Journalists are trained observers, the kinds of people who notice things most people do not. Even in today’s celebutard-driven media mess, we still need journalists to help us make meaning and make sense of the world.

Blogs like TVFury (thank goodness the “Fury” part is somebody’s surname and not a cry for help from Terry) are good examples of the potential that blogs have to inform or entertain. (And when I say that, I am assuming that TV and Fury will, at some point in the life of this blog, start to inform and entertain us).

This is not about blogging. It is about content. Sharing technologies and paradigms like the current “blog” will come and go. But our need for context, information and entertainment only increases over time. When I was a kid we had three channels on television, a local radio station and an afternoon newspaper. From those handful of sources, we created a world in our minds and thought we understood what was going on outside of our own small set of experiences. When Walter Cronkite said, “And that’s the way it is,” we believed him. It was simple and uncomplicated. The trustworthy old white man on TV told us what to think about everything from Vietnam to space exploration.

Was that simpler world of information and understanding better than today’s more complicated, postmodern, pajama-jeans-existence?

[Begin Professor Rant] Do we really understand when we learn from only one or two sources? Or is it necessary for us to consume multiple sources of information, understanding who the mediators are and having a comfort level for conflicting perspectives in order to construct a useful and meaningful reality? [end rant]

Let me put it more simply: Is your understanding of things better when you know more about them? Or is it worse?

Ponder that for a few moments. Then, if you are a Member of Congress or Minnesota Vikings QB, go ahead and get back to posting those great pictures of your junk on Twitter.

About the author: Cecil is a Brookings native and journalism professor at South Dakota State. He is also TV’s unofficial (i.e. unpaid) tech advisor and the son of Chuck Cecil, no, not he of perpetually broken nose.

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