Alex Massie Alex Massie

If politics were more like the internet… that would be a good thing

If it weren’t such fun despising Derek Draper one might have to pity the poor man. James has already highlighted one part of his latest post, but here’s another noteworthy, if sadly delusional, passage:

Maybe this affair will encourage the whole blogosphere, right and left, to commit to a new start, where offensiveness and personal attacks are avoided and debate is elevated not dragged down into the gutter? Maybe this can be a turning point at which we all redouble our efforts to tap into the internet´s positive potential rather than allowing its more peurile aspects to come to the fore? But that won´t happen without many many more people getting involved and taking blogging out of its ghetto.

This, I think, is the funniest piece of “concern trolling” I’ve seen in many a while. If there’s anything in Mr Draper’s existence which suggests that he is in fashion qualified to lead such a movement for “Blogospheric Renewal” then I’ve missed it. More to the point, he seems to fail to appreciate that the essential quality of online discourse is that it is, as it should be, impossible to control.

That means that the price for “civic engagement” (whatever that means) or elevated” debate is the existence of fora in which the Green Ink Brigade can have their say. That is, for all the good things online there’s also room for the “Bush=Hitler” mob and the “Obama wasn’t born an American citizen” crazies. For that matter, the ability of politicians to “control” the “narrative” is undermined by the internet just as surely as the web has compromised newspapers’ authority as the sole sources of information. There’s a price for that, but on balance it’s a good, not terrifying, development. Or rather, this terrifying, cacophonous aspect of the internet is a feature, not a bug.

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