Mon Jul 21st, 2008 at 10:57:41 PM EST
German online writer have found a problem: themselves. In comparison to their US collegues, they lack power and importance, for having a say in the public discussion. Most are unpolitical, self-opinated, self-centered, and unprofessional.
That's the start of an article today on spiegel.
The diary consists of a rush translation of some exerpts, as I think the individual bloggers that do exist are not too important, and I add some of my thoughts.
As the general theme of the article conincedes with my personal experience, in the comment section I would as well like to ask about the experience with political blogs in your country.
Whatever one writes about blogger, afterwards they'll beat you up, because one has understood nothing or spoken with the wrong people. Its a bit like nearing a sect, which is in permanent internal battle.
Lust for insulting others seems to be the basic prerequisite for blogging par excellence. Just read how they pummel each other.
It follows a list of quite ugly insults from some fairly well known blogger/journalists towards each other.
Then a journalist is cited to say, blogs are completely overestimated, but they would challenge the hegemony of traditional media. [This is so far nonsense in Germany, and will be in the forseeable future for reasons to discuss]
After some ranting this elaborated more:
US-Blogger Glenn Reynolds announced in his book "An Army of Davids": "The power, once in the hands of few professionals concentrated, is distributed in to the hands of amateurs"; and Habermas catches sight of the "roots of an egalitarian public of authors and readers".
But a realistic resumee is: In Germany the hands of the amateurs are pretty empty. Blogs are a niche. Sometimes funny, sometimes interesting. Very often dealing mostly with themselves, but without great importance.
While the scene in the US has meanwhile well paid stars, who interfere in the election battle and as real Davids challenge the traditional media, remains Germany blog development country. Here reign only beta-blogger instead of alpha animals.
This is as well a question of demand. "In Germany the lust for argument is underdeveloped.", thinks Niggemeuer, a media journalist and co-blogger of Bildblog [...] "It reigns the love for the compromise." The polemic and subjective manner of blogs fits badly into the homey picture.
Only one in 5 Germans ever reads blogs. In the US and Japan one in three says so. In South Korea and the Netherlands even 40%. Exact numbers a rare, however.
Political blogs in Germany are practically non-existent. When US-Journalist Sean Sinico during the election battle 2005 researched in the German blogosphere, his judgement was devasting. "Baby steps" he said. Not much has changed - believe people in the scene themselves.
"Which known German blogger, who attended this congress, said something about the credit crisis? minimum wage? Deeper economic analysis? Book reviews? Where are the eloquent textes, where the achievement which could reach and influence public debates?" a blogger ranted.
The text goes on with some description of the glorious US scene. Then quotes a US blogger:
"Americans love to talk about themselves. The less they know, the more they want to discuss" says Layne [a US blogger(!)] a tradition from the radio talkshows with their audience discussions. Now this is continuated in the net. In many blogs issues are just teased, and soon there are lots of comments. "Loud, stupid vociferation" says Layne.
But the online strength is owed as well to the weakness of established media, with its partisan reporting.
The text lists some examples from the US, before switching back to Germany:
One of the few political blogs are the "Nachdenkseiten".[...]
The platform, which Lieb runs with Albrecht Mueller, another SPD veteran, looks like from stoneage compared with his US collegues.
The quite fairly traffic of 25,000 visitors a day has the site, which is in the end not more than a forum for disappointed social democrats. Day after day ranting about the short-comings of neoliberalism, about reforms which are allegdly all false - as surprising as the political editorial of the FAZ [the conservative newspaper in Germany].
As well the Nachdenkseiten live from searching through the MSM for mistakes and shortfall. Hard kicking is allowed, if not wished for: "What the ZDF shows on demography, has the demagogic content of "Schwarzer Kanal" [something from before my time] and the propaganda of Goebbels." [the ZDF has made a pretty cool virtual documentation of the year 2050, in which however the increased life expectancy has led to a quite dramatic impoverishment of the elderly]
That shall be arguable gutsy, but just shows another problem of many blogs: David has no stone in his sling. Therefore he uses dirt.
This seems to me to be typical in a sense. Lieb is a former spokesman for the NRW governor Rau. Mueller member of parliament. I know of another site of former federal secretary, who rants regularly in the internet. So retired politicians is one source of bloggers.
Herdentrieb of Zeit.de has as well a former important person Dieter Wermuth, but even in his, very eloquent, interesting blog, most of the posts, which come all 3-4 days don't get 100 comments - and there is no real filter, so every comment is really posted.
Then there is another blog mentioned, 'politically incorrect', which is described as an anti-islam blog.
Beside such dirty stuff, reliability is named as a problem. However, the article ends with something positive:
That the Germans have not become a nation of "Blog-Warten" [means maintainer of a blog, but Blockwart is block warden or more usually WONK], is no reason for malice. More for self-mockery. So weak the Germans are as bloggers, so good are they as Bildungshuber. The German Wikipedia is the second biggest in the world. The Germans are not a folk of people's tribunes, but one of know-it-alls.
I think beside the higher need for harmony in Germany than in the US, another reason that blogs have a hard time to be political powerful is the structure of politics itself.
At dkos poeple are talking about individual politicians. Here most decisions are collective party decisions.
There are primaries and caucuses, here are party delegates and the decision of the party head.
There are fundamental decisions about war, torture or economic stabilisation policy. Here are alliance compromises, and [sorry for the chauvinistic word] housewife fiscal policy.
A grand coalition would be the end of democracy in the conflict orientated US. Here it is still bad, but has acceptance as an option.
I recently saw a comic, a man sitting in front of a TV watchin parliamentary debates from the 80s, "Somehow heartwarming this commitment of the politicians, despite they can't change anything anymore. By now I find somehow even the actual debates heartwarming"
News is as well different. Here on ET people claim the MSM would have this or that idea of financial capitalism, stock market or whatsoever. In Germany I can say covering financial stuff is no mainstream thing. Why should normal people bother what the stock market is doing?
For these reasons I think there won't be a big political or polit-economical blog scene in the near future in Germany.