Saturday, September 22, 2007

THE DREAM IS OVER. Hog on Ice starts out yelling about the taser kid Andrew Meyers, and ends up yelling about how conservative bloggers can't get any play:
This is why the right-wing Blogosphere is dead and moldering but Markos Zuniga, who can barely write his name, is a multimillionaire. Compared to Zuniga, Malkin and Reynolds are obscure, marginalized, and pretty much impotent, and Pajamas Media...well, don't get me started.

We owned the Blogosphere a few years back, and we made stupid decisions and pissed it away. We went from omnipotent to irrelevant. And we have a national election coming up, we can't begin to match the left's Internet fundraising and informational horsepower, and we're doing absolutely nothing about it. We're not going to change any time soon, either. The scarier things get, the more every successful conservative obsesses on protecting his little rice ball. No one is forming new alliances or making any serious effort to consolidate conservative media power. And for damn sure, we are not going to have any Andrew Meyers.
Back in 2003, when Megan McArdle was talking about the wingersphere Mr. Ice mourns as a "very advanced, processing brain," it may be that hundreds, even thousands of bloggers took it seriously, and thought they were part of something larger than themselves, which would in turn make them large. It was to be the sort of utopia that conservatives -- whom I'm told are not big on collectivism -- can allow themselves to imagine: one in which individuals can avail a limited barrier to entry and make contributions that will both feed the borg and expose their own talents, thereby lifting them to glory or at least economic self-sufficiency. It was, in other words, punk rock for nerds.

Well, McArdle is now credentialed by The Atlantic. Hers would seem to be a typical careerist path; the odds on her success were never slim, but blogging gave her a nice promotional boost. Mr. Ice himself is an author, a harder row to hoe in any case. His blog no doubt helps him move his product. For a happy capitalist, that should be enough -- well, never enough, but sufficient to the cause.

Yet the great dream lingers -- in Mr. Ice's case, as ashes in the mouth, but for many others, younger or just less easily discouraged, it is tastier and stimulates the appetite. The sheeple who don't even know who Scott Thomas Beauchamp is will be shaken from their false consciousness by an invincible juggernaut of Citizen Journalists holding aloft the banner of Truth, and there'll be kegs enough for everyone at the afterparty.

Fond hope! Alas, reality is more strictly tiered than that. The ubiquity of the internet feeds into the conservative idea of unlimited opportunity, but when it comes to real dollars and influence, there are never more than a few spots open, and these usually go to graduates of "good" schools who have worked a time-honored career path. The addition of a blog credential to the CV helps, no doubt, and there may be a few affirmative-action hires of pure bloggers, but the great upheaval in which some of the brethren believe is not to be. To the extent that they are useful to wielders of real power, the Citizen Journalists will be quoted, stroked, and used as a force-multiplier for disinformation campaigns in need of some extra muscle, but when the hurly-burly's done they'll be put back in their box.

Writing's tough enough, and making a living at it even tougher; trying to topple power structures or build new utopias on top of that seems like a waste of time better spent cleaning up a sentence.

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