February 18, 2005
Compiled by Bucky Rea, The
Brown Bag Blogger
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(Not So Much) In The News
No Valentines went out for webloggers from Google this year. Instead,
getting your blog googled got a whole lot tougher, beginning with
the Ides of February. Bloggists at Fables
of the Reconstruction, Sisyphus
Shrugged, and the Eschaton
noted their searches for self (as in self-googling, not self-actualization)
seem futile as blogs disappear from the #1 search engine's search
results. The Box smells a rat, folks.
Google, it should be noted, periodically rejiggers the formulas
for its search-and-ranking spiders whenever it thinks the World
Wide Thingamajig is evolving in a way that makes it tougher for
people to use the Google search engines to find what Google suspects
they want to find. This may be nothing more than a burp in that
rejiggering process. As Mithras of Fables of the Reconstruction
calculates, Americans who specifically google for political blogs
probably only number in the middle six figures. And half of them
are Republicans. Blecch!
Then, Mithras prophesies...
Until today, if you googled any topic of current
interest, the first page of results included blogs. That made blogs
relevant to general internet users, but much more importantly, it
made blogs vital for journalists researching stories. The prominent
placement of blogs in google search results meant that bloggers,
rightly or wrongly, were paid attention to. It also meant that blogs
occupied valuable internet real estate that attracts advertising
revenue. Take search engines away, and the entire enterprise dries
up. No google hits, no blogs. It's that simple.
Blogs may not go away quite that fast, of course. But the net effect
of changing the formulas for Google's search engine is to expose
Google users more to pages intended for permanent display
and direct them less toward webpages that are intended to
have a short shelf life - like those found on blogs. Alvin
Toffler, author and coiner of The Third Wave, would call
that Second Wave thinking. Ooooh, dis!
So the real value of the Google search engine's old algorithms
was that they brought new readers to weblogs, including new readers
to political weblogs. But more importantly, googling brought weblogs
to the attention of people who might not otherwise read items from
these evolving news venues. In other words, the de-blogging of Google
helps de-democratize the free flow of information for people who
go online. This de-blogging will, if it does not quite cripple blogging,
certainly attempts to ghettoize it.
So yeah, it stinks.
Now (slipping into my conspiracy box) why would blogging suddenly
warrant a one way ticket to second class netizenship? Well, Lex
from the DU
blog, a weblog culled off from the DU discussion forums, connected
the dots when he posted this cartoon
from Pat Oliphant and reminded us that "Gannongate" is a word you
won't hear much on the recently corralled CBS Nightly News.
Yep, while blogs are sidelined because they're not "real" news
sources, real news sources are ignoring the most important part
of the news story that shows "right wing media whore" isn't always
just a pejorative term. In the case of a guy named Guckert who goes
by Gannon in the daytime and Hotmilitarystud by night, right wing
media whore is actually a job title, as Hullabaloo
and about a million other bloggers keep pointing out.
Well, Pete, Bryan, and the terminally ill Uncle Dan may be missing
the obvious, but Digby
is still on the case and asking the tough questions, like "who
exactly felt close enough to Gannon/Guckert/Hotmilitarystud to share
with him the top secret Valerie Plame memos? Someone from the White
House? May Bob Novak? (Eeww!)
Meanwhile the Intelligence
Squad found the video of Gannon/Guckert/Stud's earliest
known appearance in the White House press room. He looks eerily
placid in the photo, like he's just hangin' there, waiting to perform
whatever job he's been hired to do over at 1600 Pennsylvania. Daily
Kos has the money
The Undiscovered Country
Jeanne at Body
and Soul is in a contemplative mood. She's got a
young'un in a California school who's studying the history of California
and seems a bit perplexed about how pre-conquest local history is
being taught, or not taught, to the next generation. Ironically,
she notes, the Indians are getting disappeared from the ivied halls
of LaLaLand, just like they did in real life. So who says academia
isn't relevant? Now Jeanne wants to know if other schools drill
their elementary kids in local history. The comments section in
this post is definitely worth the read, friends.
The weblog Shlonkom
Bakazay takes you into a crazy place far from the
Land of the Free. In a dimly lit sanctuary, crazed religious fanatics
exhort groups of disengaged youth to take up the sword and gun for
the glory of God and bring death and vengeance upon the infidels.
It's an ugly blending of religion with primal, xenophobic bloodlust.
Sound like Tehran? Maybe some Wahabist enclave in Tora Bora, Falluja,
or the Gaza Strip? Nope, it's Kentucky, where yuppie Christian vocal
groups wearing camo shirts and crisply starched Dockers croon homages
to the working class troops they voted to send off to fight for
oil, 9/11, world peace,
freedom, human rights, WMDs
democracy in Iraq. (For you dial-uppers out there, Shlonkom has
posted this low calorie version of this story for a faster
Thanks go to DUer Bolo
Boffin for that link. Like any good hobbit, Boffin's
good at finding hidden gems in the hidden nooks of his cybershire.
F'rinstance he recently uncovered The
Shortcake Chronicles, a blog totally dedicated to
the love of strawberry shortcakes. No, really.
Lindsay Fincher, who blogs from the coincidentally named Lindsayfincher.com
is miffed at Time Magazine. Apparently they totally ignored
her copyright on the patriotic chant "Racist, sexist, anti-gay -
Bush and Cheney go away!" It's like she just begging for and IRS
By the way, sorry about missing the column last week. When you're
a Brown Bagger, the week before Valentine's can be a little tough
Feet In, we learn from the PR
Watch blog contribution from Sheldon Rampton, who
notes the sleuthing work of an ex-pat guy named "El Gringo" (are
you following this?) that a certain Bush and war supporter is turning
the horrors of war into nifty little propaganda posters to make
our guys proud to die for
9/11, world peace, freedom,
human rights, WMDs democracy in
Iraq. Apparently once you Photoshop all the blood off their faces
and dead relatives out of the background, those Iraqis look pretty
Animal Kevin Drum gets in the choicest quote this
week, but at least partial credit has to go to the former Calpundit's
muse, tha aetherial philosopher of wit, Don Rumsfeld.
And finally Atrios
came up with a good theory about why lefty bloggers aren't quite
as successful at collecting scalps as the righty bloggers are. Now
mind you, Atrios was demonstrating the intellectual shortcomings
of Jonah Goldberg. That's not exactly a tough assignment. But Atrios's
bigger point was that it's tough to shame certain people into leaving
Jonah doesn't mind getting money from racists,
and the racists in charge don't mind paying for his column. And,
Jonah complains about anti-Semitic emailers (which, if true, should
be complained about) but has little to say about the Times accepting
numerous ads for anti-Semitic outlets. There's no way to shame these
people into resigning because no one involved has any sense of shame.
Well, we've suspected that all along, too.
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