| After a month in the small, safe world of Salon blogs, my curiosity got the better of me. I had already discovered some excellent non-Salon blogs, thanks to the posts and blogrolls of fellow Sloggers: K. at Different Strings , Charly Z at Driver 8 , Mark at Fried Green , xian at RFB/Salonika , the inimitable Raven , pomo Rayne , Blasphemous Jan, Emphatic Rob, Scott Rosenberg , Tom Tomorrow and eloquant essayist Toby .
Sloggers Raven and Tom were prolific enough to keep me busy, but once I added non-Sloggers Alas , Kos and Atrios to my daily reading I felt I would never be able to keep up. Now I’m up to 36 blogs and 20 e-zines, most of which listed are in my blogroll. I wade through them all almost every evening.
I had some unanswered questions: Why could I find no other Canadian bloggers of note? Were there any eloquent right-wingers (other than Volokh) in the blogosphere? Why was my blogroll predominently male writers when I’d read that the majority of bloggers were female? When I discovered some tools to search for blogs by subject, I decided to dig for some answers. Over the past week I’ve read or at least scanned over 300 blogs. This is what I learned:
In other words, the blogosphere outside our cloistered Salon world is a microcosm of the world it articulates. It is all interesting to those that have the energy and the voyeuristic streak needed to explore it, and who are not too jaundiced by the naivete, frivolity and noise that consumes most of blog space, just as it consumes most of the bandwidth of human discourse. But I’m glad to be home.
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My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2023)
--- My Best 200 Posts, 2003-22 by category, from newest to oldest ---
Hope — On the Balance of Probabilities
The Caste War for the Dregs
Recuperation, Accommodation, Resilience
How Do We Teach the Critical Skills
Collapse Not Apocalypse
'Making Sense of the World' Reading List
Notes From the Rising Dark
What is Exponential Decay
Collapse: Slowly Then Suddenly
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Making Sense of Who We Are
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Post Collapse with Michael Dowd (video)
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Requiem for a Species
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
If We Had a Better Story...
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Hard Part is Finding People Who Care
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
A Short History of Progress
The Boiling Frog
Our Culture / Ourselves:
A CoVid-19 Recap
What It Means to be Human
A Culture Built on Wrong Models
Our Unique Capacity for Hatred
Not Meant to Govern Each Other
The Humanist Trap
Amazing What People Get Used To
My Reluctant Misanthropy
The Dawn of Everything
Why Misinformation Doesn't Work
The Lab-Leak Hypothesis
The Right to Die
CoVid-19: Go for Zero
The Process of Self-Organization
The Tragic Spread of Misinformation
A Better Way to Work
The Needs of the Moment
Ask Yourself This
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
May I Ask a Question?
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
Learning From Nature
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
Making Sense of Scents
An Age of Wonder
The Truth About Ukraine
The Supply Chain Problem
The Promise of Dialogue
Too Dumb to Take Care of Ourselves
Republicans Slide Into Fascism
All the Things I Was Wrong About
Several Short Sentences About Sharks
How Change Happens
What's the Best Possible Outcome?
The Perpetual Growth Machine
We Make Zero
How Long We've Been Around (graphic)
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
Loren Eiseley, in Verse
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self, and Free Will:
No Free Will, No Freedom
The Other Side of 'No Me'
This Body Takes Me For a Walk
The Only One Who Really Knew Me
No Free Will — Fightin' Words
The Paradox of the Self
A Radical Non-Duality FAQ
What We Think We Know
Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
Healing From Ourselves
The Entanglement Hypothesis
Nothing Needs to Happen
Nothing to Say About This
What I Wanted to Believe
A Continuous Reassemblage of Meaning
No Choice But to Misbehave
What's Apparently Happening
A Different Kind of Animal
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
How Our Bodies Sense the World
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
Mindful Wanderings (Reflections) (Archive)
A Prayer to No One
Frogs' Hollow (Short Story)
We Do What We Do (Poem)
Negative Assertions (Poem)
Reminder (Short Story)
A Canadian Sorry (Satire)
Under No Illusions (Short Story)
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
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Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
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Hint taken. BTW, I now believe ALL knowledge — good or bad — is memetic. It’s all viral. Some is symbiotic with humanity, some not. Viruses of a more aggressive nature may attack their hosts. Nature has a backdoor, though; rarely ever will an aggressive virus kill 100% of its victims. At least 10% will gain immunity. That’s why the Blog Power Curve will not be vertical: 10% of us at a minimum will be immune to what ever virulence is unleashed.Wishing you immunity when it counts.
As long as you don’t tell me you’re a Dawkins fan ;-) I actually think memetics makes a lot more sense as a ‘philosophy of idea dissemination’ than it does as a behavioral model. What did you think of Mr. Wood’s site?
I can’t say I’m a Dawkins fan, but then I can’t say I’m a Darwin fan, either. It’s just incredibly difficult to argue away the concept that information can be reduced to meme/gene and it’s delivered in highly predictable (scriptable) fashion.In defense, what to do? employ infection control techniques: wash your hands and harddrive thoroughly and often after contact; question everything; take nothing for granted; assume everyone has an agenda or a cold unless proven otherwise; stay well away from the obviously ill. <g>
p.s. Wood’s site: very juicy. Would like to return with increasing frequency, but it will be at someother blog’s expense I’m sorry to say.
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Rayne: Reading Full House made me a Gouldian for life, and being a Darwin fan and a Dawkins-hater kind of comes with the territory. One argument against Dawkins is his inability to explain the ‘wild child’ cases: linguists claim that the behaviour of these ‘unsocialized’ children is so utterly different from ‘civilized’ behaviour, and so completely unpredictable for those of our cultural mindset, that it proves learning actual creates neuron patterns in the brain (and that language physically cannot be learned if it isn’t learned by puberty).
c: Thank you. Your links have my mind expanding, ‘tho I had already discovered SZ. Your blog is lovely, extraordinary. I have to start writing poetry again.But you forgot to say ‘oulipo’.
Ah, the “wild child”. Have a seat, this might be lengthy. A broken personality or one that’s pre-socialized; may also be a regressive state due to extremes of stress or illness. Acts according to a highly predictable script if I read Graves and Beck/Cowan properly. Actually, we’d also have to look to Czikszentmihalyi (The Evolving Self); he said memes are created ‘when the human nervous system reacts to an experience’. In the strictest sense, the “wild child” does just that, but has only the most primitive level of memetics to respond to stimuli.Beck/Cowan label this level of development “beige” (Graves label: level A-N); it’s typified by use of instinctive and habitual actions to survive; an identity of self is primitive or tenuous; basic security and safety needs are primary motivators; persons in this level may band together to support each other. Language may not be acquired because it’s an investment of effort which does not directly and immediately result in improved security and safety. (You have the capacity to see the potential rewards in the investment of learning language, but Beige does not; they’re concerned only with immediacy of survival.)A “wild child” is not the only manifestation of this state; look at mentally ill street people, persons affected by grave and traumatic disaster, children who’ve been abandoned in early childhood, primitive tribes (ex. San Bushmen). Perhaps it’s not Dawkins responsibility to explain this, but others like Graves-Beck/Cowan; Beck/Cowan recognize the meme concept in their work. To be candid, Dawkins may not be operating at a level where he could “see” the beige memetic and understand where it fits into the entire human development model. One of the greatest threats to persons at Beige level are those in Orange level, according to Graves: ‘From his lofty position of relative worldly success and occupational superiority…he looks down in in sneering condemnation on man at the first level…If he had any gumption he’d take himself in hand and get out of his condition, says materialistic [Orange] man in haughty condescension. I did it. Look at me. I made it up here on my own. If he had anything on the ball he would do it too.’(Sound familiar, like you’ve heard this before from conservatives talking about the working poor or destitute?) Dawkins could be at a high level Orange and simply unable to *see* the Beige meme, although he may be high enough not to condemn it altogether.You’ll see Beige in pre-verbal children — infants, early toddlers. They are highly reactive, still have not an awareness that they are separate from their parents. We grow out of this if we have proper nurturing and all our safety/security needs are met. The “wild child” may either not have had this, or may be damaged in some way that they cannot assimilate nurturing. One of the biggest challenges to this planet is the increasing number of persons in Beige level of development; think of the millions of orphans created by AIDS globally, or the number of people who may regress under the threat or direct impact of war and terrorism. We run the risk of an immense tide of “wild children”.Maybe Dawkins was simply in denial; that’s a big chunk to bite off. I can’t blame him, it hurts like hell to look at the impact of Beige growth on this planet.
Although I haven’t read them, from your description I would say that Graves and Beck/Cowan are unable to see beyond their own suffocating mental models of culture and learning. To describe a ‘wild child’ in Maslovian terms as ‘primitive’ or ‘pre-socialized’ or ‘beige’ is condescending and would seem to borrow heavily from the standard blind mythologies of modern salvationist religions. ‘Leaver’ cultures (both human and ‘animal’) see the individual and tribe as inextricably part of the whole Earth organism, and appreciate instinctively that evolution (both over one’s life and over a species’ millennium) is not ‘up’ or ‘forward’. To me, Dawkins and the other ‘modern culture’ chauvinists are merely the 21st century counterparts of the Cartesians, who believed, belligerently, and despite all evidence to the contrary, that there was nothing wrong with torturing animals because clearly animals were unable to reason and hence ‘obviously’ could not meaningfully feel pain or emotion.But despite the fact this stuff really and unreasonably gets me riled up, I really like some of the work you do on your blog, and the quality of your writing. Can we still be friends? -/- Dave
Points 2 to 4 of your weblog survey are the most interesting to me. It brings to mind that old saying about an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of keyboards: maybe someone will someday produce a Shakespearian play, but in the meantime, all we get is a lot of gibberish.Which, in the end, is quite fine. A meritocratic way of publishing like weblogs allows anyone to take a crack at writing. That means those with something to say and those with nothing to say but don’t want to be left behind. They’ll write their brains out, and it’s up to the reader to separate the chaff from the grain.That seems to restore relevance to editors, that species so despised these days. But on the blogsphere, the editors we can trust come in the shape of blogrolls and links. Not too different from ol’ word of mouth between acquaintances.
Thanks Charly. As I describe in my post today, I think the blogroll is more analogous to a rolodex than an editor, but I get your point. Is the blogosphere a meritocracy? I guess as much as ‘real’ publishing and broadcasting are: trash, pandering and sensationalism get lots of fickle hits and eyeballs, but real quality will eventually draw in at least enough faithful readers/viewers to pay the rent. I’m really interested in what motivates bloggers to write, and post, besides the promise of fleeting fame, and I’m thinking of doing an e-mail survey of Salon Bloggers to get their POV.
For some good work on moral development theory check out <href=”http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060628669/qid=1046794679/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-4735217-4811005?v=glance&s=books>James Fowler (my boss). It’s based on Erikson and Kohlberg.
i believe it’s been about 15 years since i have uttered the words “omigod i am sooooo not wanting to be studying for next week’s history test. ” thanks for really delving into my blog…
From toronto:www.shespeaksgoodenglish.comI think you might have been overly harsh on Canadian blogs, and i especially don’t like your comment on handles. If someone wants to call themselves ‘Big Pink Cookie’ instead of their real name, who are you to judge?
Erin/Kamin: You are absolutely right. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. For my full apology please see Erin’s site.