Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Adding Value

Scott Payne has some excellent thoughts on what Freddie's departure from the blogosphere says about the strengths and weaknesses of blogging as a form of discourse. As you'll see, those thoughts offer an excellent segue into a pretty significant announcement here at PE.

Scott writes: often times does feel like bloggers simply sit around pontificating on the importance of one another’s comments in a circular fashion. Certainly a sizable chunk of blog posts are responses to blog posts by other bloggers, and in this regard how much original thought winds up getting expressed in the blogosphere starts to become hazy.

My own conception of discourse is that original thought is necessary for it to be meaningful. If we restrict ourselves driving around in circles on the same topics and ideas over and over again, then it seems to be that all we’re really doing is digging better grooves for the same old ruts.

On the other hand ... such intra-blogospheric reflection need not only be a discursive cul de sac. When done well, the reflection that bloggers provide on the thoughts/ideas of other bloggers can, in fact, tease out elements of that thought, examine it more carefully, and ideally add something novel to a particular line of thought.

For the most part, I think Dave and I have tried to post, as often as possible, our own original ideas rather than regurgitating what others have said. But the fact is that we're human, and no doubt fall victim to this trap from time to time ourselves. Even when we don't, we - just like anyone - remain inherently captive to our own predispositions and biases. For me, this is why it is so essential to engage in considered dialogue with those with whom you disagree - a result that can often be difficult to obtain, particularly in the middle and lower tiers of the blogosphere where conversation between ideologically distinct bloggers is all too rare.

With that in mind, I'm extremely honored to announce that Kyle Moore of Comments From Left Field will be joining Dave and I from time to time (read: whenever he feels like it) as a co-blogger. Kyle is a "philosophical liberal with moderate and centrist tendencies" who happens to share a deep interest in the applied political science and philosophy that tends to be the focus of this blog. Kyle and I have engaged in numerous debates on these issues over the last year and a half, and I think it's safe to say that in each instance we each came out haveing "add[ed] something novel to a particular line of [our] thought."

In terms of the structure of this arrangement, Kyle is going to continue with his usual line of posts at CFLF. But on those occasions he feels the urge to write on issues of theory and philosophy, he will have free reign to take advantage of this site's more appropriate niche for that style of writing.

Knowing how our past discussions have progressed, I have little doubt that this arrangement will push each of us to reach new heights of original and thoughtful discourse.

On a more personal note, this arrangement is particularly meaningful to me given the role that Kyle played in the establishment of this site as something more than a mere one-person echo chamber. Without Kyle's selfless, patient advice and assistance shortly after I started this blog, it's almost impossible to conceive this site ever reaching more than 10 or 20 readers a day. More remarkable is that he offered that advice without hesitation, with the full recognition of our ideological differences, and based solely on a handful of comments I left after stumbling upon CFLF.

UPDATE: While we're on the topic of people who challenge me to overcome my own biases, newly-frequent commenter and outstanding blogger in his own right, E.D. Kain, has a well-deserved column up on the front page of Culture11 about seating Senator-designate Burris (D-Taint). His analysis seems dead-on, even if it's not his usual subject matter.

UPDATE II: Just rambling, but given the ever-expanding roster of particularly thoughtful lower and middle-tier bloggers who have had front-page articles at Culture11, combined with the site's Murderer's Row of thoughtful top-tier regular bloggers, not to mention the site's social networking capabilities and expansions into the worlds of sports, linguistics, etc. long will it take until Culture11 completely dominates all things media-related?