WinefromCharlieKnock.Knock. Hello, is anyone out there?

In the wake of the Great Peach Pundit Blogger Breakup I felt the timing might be right to dust off my password and see if this thing still works.

It appears it does.

Yay.

Just when you thought blogging had gotten dull, leave it to the son of master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth to shake us all up. During the last five days I have watched the unraveling of one of the most informative, mature and active Georgia Political blogs, Peach Pundit. Late last week we got a tip something was amiss, then Icarus wrote this, which lead to speculation on Facebook, then a long series of posts, like this and this.   It’s been a riveting few days, filled with prominent members of the Georgia political blogging community going public regarding the split saying essentially “it’s not you, it’s me, really”.

Okay, riiiiiight.

In a nutshell it looks like Peach Pundits’ two daddie’s got a quickie Reno divorce, but just one of them got to keep all the cool friends. This divorce isn’t going to land the next cover of The National Enquirer or The Star, because sweet baby jesus on a breadstick no one wants to see Erick’s head photo shopped onto a Kardashian’s body.  That said, it’s still big news around this neck of the woods. Heck even I came to rely on those handy 7:30 am emails from Mike filled with wonk and a wee bit of snark.

As many others have said, and I agree, PP came a long way in tone and quality under the leadership of Icarus Pundit.  The new venture, Georgia Pol is very exciting. I wish Charlie well as Publisher and look forward to more of the smart writing and the ongoing discussions about policy. It was no surprise me that eventually just writing about policy wasn’t going to be good enough, so when he hung out his Policy Best shingle it was a logical step. As many others have remarked, many of us from very different points of view have found common ground with Charlie. Unlikely as it might seem, Charlie and I too have become friends, and yes, it involved wine, quite a lot of it.

While listening to GriftDrift last Friday, it was hard to not reflect on my early days of Blogging. He called it the Wild West, but I prefer to think of us as Pirates or Privateers, you know who you are- paid to publish some drivel of a press release.

Prior to 2002-2003 in order to be politically active you had to put pants on and actually leave your house. Once outside your choices of activities weren’t stellar.  You could attend a Meet-up (not to be confused with a “Do-Up”) or you might go to a local political party or candidates HQ to volunteer or for a truly terrifying experience attend a county parties monthly breakfast or business meeting.

Shudder.

It was a lot easier to ditch the pants, sit in your basement and hang out on the inter webs even if 90% of the folks you encountered were nuts. You didn’t even need to disclose your real name, in fact “astroturfing” was barely invented yet. I had multiple “personalities”, one of them was a commenter at Peach Pundit, for years. Frankly we were all shocked when someone actually did use their real name, then it still had to be verified.

It seems like just yesterday *cough* 12 years ago* cough* I was banging away in a Kerry message board, oh yes kids, that was the primitive early days of digital political organizing. It was very much a “us verses them” world. Liberal Blogs were created to battle Conservative ones, precious and expensive bandwidth was filled with unequal parts vitriol and fact free zones, few opinions were altered, mostly just spelling and punctuation suffered. Guilty.

Twelve years ago people still read newspapers, watched network teevee.  Those business had news directors, political directors and employed people called “Reporters”who led investigative teams, checked actual facts, many of them had professional “ethics” and a called themselves “Journalists”. Some of the more high minded of us Bloggers dared to call ourselves “Citizen Journalists” however mostly we were dismissed as just those cranky “Bloggers”.

But then that changed, around 2006 maybe? In a very short span, investigative journalists were let go, papers shrank, tv became even more vacuous than ever, radio more shrill. Shockingly it seemed blogs were a place thought leaders might be found, facts were shared, people were exchanging ideas, rocks were being kicked over and exposing a lot of muck, and we weren’t shy about putting it out on the internet. Plus it was like Free.

The better writers, or people with inside knowledge were plucked from the comments section and asked to post on the “Front Page”, and yes it was an honor. Some good was probably done. But, it didn’t take long before the headaches started.

We got calls from elected officials  because someone said something mean about them on a “Blog” and they wanted us to fix it, bless them. Many cared about their blog traffic stats, a few kept a counter at the bottom just to brag about how many visits they got, bless them. We got called all sorts of names at meetings, even if we weren’t the ones writing, bless. Emails would fly at 10 pm on Thursday from folks who needed us to pimp their weekend event, bless. Spin off blogs with points of view of a singular nature would be launched, then abandoned, we were usually sorry to see them go. If one of us linked to or cross posted to a “rival” blog all hell would break loose, dang if those angry calls wouldn’t freeze your flip phone up for hours.

When you went to lunch, the comments would stack up and you had to journey back to a desktop to read them. Practically stone age I tell ya. But it was exciting to see a thread explode, you could learn a lot about people. I did. Blogs dealt with their trolls differently, rules (such as they were) might include being “peer reviewed” as in, everyone bitched about you long enough to get sent to a time out or banned. Or I could make up five different logins and argue my point of view until I got blocked by the head of the pant-less. Or get threatened with a a lawsuit. Ah the good old days.

Then came the ultimate digital overlord: Zuckerberg and his little cottage project Facebook.

All of a sudden, we had to have pictures and a “real name”,  disclose our relationship status, “like” things, tell everyone our locations and what we were eating. Social media overwhelmed and sucked the joy out of our weird little cloistered world. People no longer read anything longer than 140 characters, our political opinions met your parents, kids and grand parents, many blogs became husks of what they once were.

The most inane or incorrect political ephemera was shared on FB like herpes. Any expectation that you could attend an event to learn something was dismissed because it didn’t have it’s own hashtag or wasn’t “trending”. Eventually the only people coming to the blog were through FB and our commenters became only the folks who weren’t on Facebook. I’d grudgingly throw up a Open Thread just for one commenter. When he died, literally died, I stopped doing it.

The Open Threads were replaced by everyone’s FB News Feed.  On occasion people would “share” a post, but usually because the title was catchy or mean and they’d almost never actually read the whole thing. The era of “clickbait” was born and is still with us. Some people on FB today have dozens of private lists just so that some of their “fake ass friends” can’t see what they are liking, sharing or commenting on. The only thing FB was ever useful for in politics was to organize where Happy Hour would be. Seriously to this day, thats all its still good for.

I liked it better when I just had a fake name, or two.

To this end I raise my glass to the folks at Georgia Pol. You’ve inspired me to reconsider the medium I’d become indifferent to. Maybe there is a place to have discussions about policy and press for solutions with a dedicated group of  people who, while not at all alike have ideas and information that could be useful.

I can’t decide which one of my identities I will be commenting with, but yeah I’ll be checking it out.

*With apologies to Lin Manuel-Miranda

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3 Responses to Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?*

  1. Daniel says:

    After a quick scan of the BfD friendly list of Georgia blogs I felt like pouring a few out for all the homies no longer with us.

    I quickly gathered up my wits and my virtuous booze – but, there is no doubt of the veracity of your tale o’ the blogosphere. That said, I’d *love* to see BfD rise again.

  2. ire says:

    Good post. I think its obvious I’ve long stopped coming here regularly (which I think is near universal) for many reasons.

    But I do think, and PP/other sites have proved this, that there is still a need and desire for longer thought out posts. And while GAPol is quite balanced, there’s value to BfD creating a niche and doing what it did well in 04-09.

    So, anyway, I guess what I’m saying is: time for a reunion tour?

    • Juliana says:

      IRE, you know me-I’ll come to the opening of a paper bag if you invite me!

      Last night as I was writing this, I reflected on how many people who used to write here have left, not died, but who left politics, left the state, left activism. Others are employed places where blogging under their real names would be a serious issue.

      Perhaps a reboot is called for.
      It’s worth the conversation.
      If nothing else I want to break up with politics on FB