Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Universe of RGV Blogs

Recently, I ticked off a blog reader known to some as Little Buddy. I'm not a lawyer and, worse still, I'm a blogger. So, I have leeway to screw around with my writing. Yes, I wander a bit in expressing my thoughts and may even express several thoughts on a topic without tying them together in a structured form. If you look around, you'll see the same disrespect for form on other blogs. This is because we're bloggers, not writers.

I'm going to give you an idea of how I blog, why, and what I envision should be my place. Then, I'll go over the network of RGV political blogs and what our place is in the grand scheme of things.

Starting with how I blog, let me just tell you that it's not professional. I don't get paid for this, at least not monetarily. I get paid with the satisfaction that I created original content for the Internet. You guys are out there reading and you need something to read. I write. Another "how I blog" is that I write in a conversational style. There is no form in a conversation; you just go with flow. I know how to write in standard form:

Intro. List topics.

Topic 1. Supporting evidence/arguments. Conclude
topic.

Topic 2. Supporting evidence/arguments. Conclude topic.

...

Conclude. Summarize arguments and state conclusion.

Where's the fun in that? This is blogging, not a research paper or legal brief. It's just me talking to you. Each blogger has his or her "voice". When I comment on somebody's blog, there is no careful consideration and analysis. I just bang out comments based on my train of thought at the time. That is how I blog.

You may wonder, why the hell does this fool blog? That's easy. There are three reasons why I blog: historical content, entertainment, and to clear the noggin. When historians, I'm married to one, try to figure how life was at a certain time, they look for what they call "primary sources". These can be letters, journals, notes, or other personal writings that discuss challenges or the experience of the times. To a Historian, it's interesting to learn how people thought and why they thought it. The second reason, entertainment, is a two-way deal. It gives me something to do and some of my readers find the stuff I write interesting. Finally, I have a serious problem. I think a great deal whether I like or not. I mentioned in another post that I also keep a written journal. The reason I do these things is because it somehow clears my mind of all the noise. I think I might have adult attention deficit disorder, but I'll stick to beer and writing as my treatments.

So, what is my vision for my blog? Come on, it's a blog! A blog doesn't do anything, I do. Those of you who have met me (I've met some of my readers) know that I'm pretty quiet and easygoing. I don't try to change your mind, it's not my purpose. I'm here to tell you what I think and why. There is no grand vision for this blog. It already is what I want it to be. It will change as I do. In short, no vision.

So what do I think about the Rio Grande Valley blogging universe? Different people have different reasons for blogging. The Rep blogs because it allows him to show voters what it is that he's doing for his district. Read his blog, you can't say that he isn't doing anything. Earn My Vote blogs in order to expose those who have abused their public's trust and the people who help them. Some blogs are like mine, people expressing their opinions. Other blogs are unabashed propaganda machines. We all have disparate reasons for blogging. Even the more iritating bloggers have a place. It's a community of sorts despite the fact that we may not all like or respect each other. The one thing that ties us together is that our focus is on the events of the Rio Grande Valley.

Amongst all the RGV blogs, we attract a core of readers who return day after day or week after week to see what's new. We also attract readers from without the RGV who are looking to find out the state of affairs here. Of course, there are reporters who are looking to find the "pulse" of what's going on down here. Finally, there are people looking for specific information about the Valley that may not be available in standard media outlets like The Monitor. When they run a search, our blogs come out in the results. So, all of the RGV blogs are effectively the "face" of the Rio Grande Valley on the Internet. The Internet, of course, is a ubiquitous part of life in general, but not a big part of people's lives in the RGV. This is a bit ironic, but it connects to another point later on. So, I guess what I want to say is that we do have a significant presence on the Internet, but it's not exactly what we might think it is.

The key question then becomes, what difference do our blogs make? Are we fooling ourselves that we are making a difference? The answer is a wishy washy yes and no. We are making a difference in a way that is totally different from what I imagine most of the bloggers intend. The sad truth is that most of the residents of the Rio Grande Valley don't know of or care about our blogs. For all the expose's and bringing out of facts, it really only affects those people who are political junkies. This includes other bloggers, candidates, campaign workers, candidate supporters, political watchers, and journalists. The rest of the population could care less. This does not mean that our blogs are without value. For one, there is the historical value. With all the cross-linking, our posts leave a historical trail and record of the events in the Rio Grande Valley. In the same way that you can go to the library and look through microfiche to read old papers, you can go through blog archives to find out what was going on at a certain time and what opinions were and the consensus was. Although we bloggers speak for ourselves, we represent different parts of the community and provide a rounded historical record of the politically inclined.

So does this mean that RGV bloggers are insignificant except for historical purposes? No, of course not. RGV blogging is still in its infancy. For now, it's overrepresented in Edinburg. There is still McAllen, Harlingen, Brownsville, and other places throughout the RGV that can use a blogger. The value that our current bloggers offer is that we report stuff that the newspapers are afraid to report. We may even get the scoop on some things on occasion. Most importantly, knowing that journalists keep tabs on our blogs, it affects news coverage. Furthermore, it affects the decisions of some candidates based on what they read. So, we don't affect voters; but, we do affect campaigns. If there is no election, RGV bloggers still function to keep politicians in line. In my experience, what we write gets around in political circles. So, we don't really get our message out to voters, but we do get the message out to officials. As DeNiro and Earn My Vote say "I'm watching you Focker".
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