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Blogging at Conferences: The Controversy Continues!

Dave and Sarah object to my post about blogging during presentations, but in doing so they reveal some of the weaknesses of blogging.

Dave likens blogging to citizen journalism, a sort of you-are-there Capotian reportage, and justifies blogging during presentations accordingly. Sarah then expands on this point, saying that blog entries are really just note-taking.

But in my entry I never said not to take notes; I specifically stated that note-taking is fine. I wrote, “Take notes? Write a pre-bloggy entry? Make a brief blogtation, ‘psyched, great show?’ O.k., fine, even good.” If you read my entry, you can readily see that what I specifically objected to was those bloggers who “launch into full-length blog entries during a talk, IM back and forth, practically publish a newspaper filled with [their] thoughts and [their] ideas.”

A seasoned journalist wouldn’t misrepresent either the facts or his subject’s point (particularly when the subject had made the point in writing). I don’t think they misrepresent what I said intentionally; it’s that for all the romance of “citizen journalism,” Dave and Sarah don’t have the grounding in basic journalism that would make this misrepresentation so obvious. They are great librarians and I admire much that they do, but reporters they ain’t.

This kind of incident speaks volume to why, as much as I admire Dan Gillmor, I’m still on the fence on the issue of citizen journalism, even after reading We the Media–a required read, btw–and it’s largely because every time I feel just a little starry-eyed about information wanting to be free ad infinitum ad nauseum, I see an example of “journalism” that makes the Weekly World News look like a national paper of record (not that Sarah or Dave went quite that far). Call me an old fart, but as much as I read and enjoy blogs, I’ll still take my journalism from the likes of the New York Times.

Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my guns. I know the difference between note-taking and self-absorbed online bloviating at the expense of learning something new. Note-taking–paper, online, I don’t care–is reasonable, a good way to capture what’s happening; so too the real-time brief breathless blog entry noting with rapture a great presentation in progress (particularly when I’m the presenter). But when someone is far more enchanted with the upright pronoun than with the presentation he is sitting in (and I know you know what I’m talking about), I say ixnay on the ogging-blay.

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