That interconnectedness is what leads enthusiasts to talk about the blogosphere, as if this were all a single vast conversation — at some point in these discussions, somebody’s likely to trot out the phrase “collective mind.” But if there’s a new public sphere assembling itself out there, you couldn’t tell from the way bloggers address their readers — not as anonymous citizens, the way print columnists do, but as co-conspirators who are in on the joke. Taken as a whole, in fact, the blogging world sounds a lot less like a public meeting than the lunchtime chatter in a high-school cafeteria, complete with snarky comments about the kids at the tables across the room.
The fact is that this is a genuinely new language of public discourse — and a paradoxical one. On the one hand, blogs are clearly a more democratic form of expression than anything the world of print has produced. But in some ways they’re also more exclusionary, and not just because they only reach about a tenth of the people who use the Web. The high, formal style of the newspaper op-ed page may be nobody’s native language, but at least it’s a neutral voice that doesn’t privilege the speech of any particular group or class. Whereas blogspeak is basically an adaptation of the table talk of the urban middle class — it isn’t a language that everybody in the cafeteria is equally adept at speaking. Not that there’s anything wrong with chewing over the events of the day with the other folks at the lunch table, but you hope that everybody in the room is at least reading the same newspapers at breakfast.
Hmmm… An adaptation of the table talk of the urban middle class??? And isn’t one of the great appeals of blogging the fact that we DON’T all read the same newspapers (or Webistes) at breakfast? My “filters” send me in all sorts of directions that I would never travel to if I didn’t read blogs. I think he’s missing the point (or is that too snarky?)