Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Well: I must pronounce myself stunned by the way the whole "start an argument" argument over at the Poetics list--with its "blogs are sucking the listerv dry" corollary--has gone. After my post yesterday, I was expecting the thread to go the way it usually does, with a flood of blogophobia.

But this time, for whatever reason, the bloggers spoke up--Chris Murray, Nick Piombino, Stephen Vincent, and others--and something like a coherent defense of poetry blogs started happening, on the Poetics list itself. Maybe it's just a matter of critical mass; even most of those voicing critiques of blogs had to admit (somewhat sheepishly) that they, too, had blogs of their own.

Even more surprising, though, was the result. Not the old-style, all-out flame war that folks like Ray Bianchi and Alan Sondheim seemed, at various moments, to be hoping for; but a series of lengthy, thoughtful posts and responses to posts, adding up to a discussion that was sustained, interesting, and possibly even productive, without anyone having to get the "once-over."

I can't help thinking that blogging actually did change the very form of the discussion. The posts by folks like Chris, Nick, Stephen, and Tim Peterson felt more like, well, blog entries than listserv posts: longer and more essayistic, more rigorously critical than reactive. But it was also fascinating to see those entries appear in the "head-on" format of the listserv; the encounter of the two forms was, I think, to the benefit of both.

And how does discussion move between blogs and the list, if at all? This seems like a perfect opportunity to think about that. There was one post on the list that railed against "meters" and "counters" as antithetical to "direct communication," but in fact these are a means of communication, a way of seeing who's reading you and responding to you.

So how was blogland responding to and continuing the discussion?

Nick Piombino reproduced his Poetics list posting under the heading "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Blogger."

Chris Murray reminds us: "there's more to blogs than lists," and reflects on her own practice.

Those Umbrists declare themselves part of the blog counter-assault on list-servs.

Jim Behrle goes toe-to-toe with Tim Peterson.

And Mme Chatelaine says: "Get Real": the blog is a form.

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