Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A Rejoinder

Interesting. Courtesy of a link from Bookslut, Alex Good writes in reference to the blogging rules mentioned earlier:

February 24/04: Blogging

In a comment on the Arts Journal Weblog "About Last Night", Terry Teachout (if that is his real name) suggests some rules for the Internet's literary blogs. In particular he would like all bloggers to give credit to other blogsources for borrowed links.

Mr. Teachout is new to the Internet, so he can be forgiven for spouting off about things he doesn't really understand. Just a couple of pointers:

(1) There is no such thing as a "blogosphere", understood as a "community" with "members" and rules. And it's a damn good thing too.

(2) Repeat after me: Blogsources do not have any proprietary right to the stories they link to. Therefore, you cannot "poach" a link. is not a blog. I link to a daily news story and I give no credit to anyone for where I got the link (though I do have the names of some sources on the Links page). That's because (a) it's not their story, and (b) I have no interest whatsoever in what's "good for everybody in the blogosphere."

Later on, he cites:

One of the things that impressed me most in 2003 was the continuing development of a real literary culture online. So far the Internet is behaving more like a print medium than like television, which seems to make it especially attractive to writers and readers.

We all know about the shrinking (or disappearing) book review sections in daily newspapers, but I think a lot of that interest is hopping online. And it is making the leap with a style, intelligence, and depth of reporting that the mainstream media gave up on long ago (at least with regard to books). When I go trolling the blogs for book news and commentary I’m amazed at the wealth of material out there. And best of all, the majority of it is refreshingly independent."

What I was happy about, and what I'm still happy about, is the development of a literary culture. That is, the criticism and literary journalism available online that the blogs link to. In turn, a good literary blog, in my opinion, is one that is grounded in actual book stuff. BookSlut is not, primarily, a blog - it is an online literary magazine with reviews, interviews, and essays. The Complete Review's blog, the Literary Saloon, was only launched a couple of years after the Review had been online, publishing in-depth essays, reviews, and book industry reportage. When I go to BookNinja it's not to read the links.

(Emphasis mine) Blogs serve a purpose. But anyone who thinks that it's the links that are important to the growth and development of an online literary culture is spending way too much time studying their traffic reports and not enough time reading books.

What do YOU think?

P.S. Bookslut also didn't like Teachout's rules. Read 'em here.

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