Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Blogging: Searching for a better format

Posted by worriedlebanese on 31/05/2010

As many might have realised, I’ve been forcing myself to blog for many months now. And it’s not because I have little to say or don’t have an opinion on any particular subject. I’ve often come across as an opinionated person, and even an arrogant one, for a good reason. And it’s not because I lack the time for it; I struggle with every word when writing, but still:  when there’s a will, there’s a way!

So what’s the problem? Frankly, I’m a bit bored and tired of rambling on the Middle East. I’m weary of hearing my own voice and knowing its inconsequentiality. This “regular” exercice isn’t really meaningful and certainly doesn’t bring anyone (including myself) much. As one of my (recently deceased) professors hinted to me years ago using Blaise Pascal’s terminology, I belong to the second category of people, the half-clever people (demi habiles): I’m blessed with the capacity to “discern” (perceive or recognise matters) but instead of working with that knowledge, I rebel against the order that I recognise as being flawed. Such an attitude is expected of a teen or even a young adult (or a socialist come to think of it), but it becomes ridiculous after a certain age.

A quick glance at my posts should bring anyone  to the following conclusion: they are not informative enough to be journalistic, and they are not precise enough nor methodologically driven to be academic. This is quite normal for a blog, but I was trained as a journalist and I work in academia… so what’s my contribution to the blogosphere?

I believe my posts do give an informed and non conventional view on matters relevant to the Middle East (and more specifically to Lebanon). But once you’ve heard it, how useful is it to keep on hearing it? The more it is repeated, the more it borders on ranting.

I’ve seen bloggers use their blogs for academic purposes, and have followed others who used them for journalistic purposes. I’m not using this blog for any purpose other than blogging. And this type of blogging isn’t what we need in Lebanon. Most articles in our newspapers resemble blog posts. And the views you come across in the academic world are extremely conventional (and frankly detached from reality, at least as I see it). So my challenge is to find a way to make my writing more meaningful.

As the title of this post clearly states it, I’m looking for another format, a new approach that would make my modest contribution meaningful and useful. Here are a couple of ideas I’m rolling around.

  • Create or integrate a collective platform that focuses on the Middle East or Lebanon. Does anyone know of any interesting existing platform? Or is anyone interested in participating in such a platform?
  • Link my blogging to the my involvement in Peace and Diversity education. I have been involved in this field for 4 years now. I have actually followed several platforms on Ning (Mepeace, Ipeace, PalestinianMothers) for 3 years to see what is done, how it’s done, what is missing and what can be done.

Does anyone have ideas on that subject?

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4 Responses to “Blogging: Searching for a better format”

  1. Qifa Nabki said

    You’re too hard on yourself WL.

    I always read your work with great interest.

    • Thanks QN for the kind words. And I’m very flattered that you appreciate what I write and take the time to read it. But I still believe it is not worth all that trouble and has to be improved.
      I’m hoping that you would give me some tips on how this can be done.

  2. j.bamford said

    I came across a pretty interesting article by Drew Conway, a PhD student at New York University, about the importance of blogs in today’s environment and how graduate students (or those in undergrad for that matter) can take advantage of the many tools that blogging has to offer.

    The reason I’m commenting on this post is because blogs have taken on an inherent value in American society. You can’t go far on the internet without stumbling upon a wide variety of blogs, most of which redirect you to other blogs that you had no idea existed. Everything from sports to politics, security to celebratory gossip is discussed, and virtually no issue is left untouched by today’s blogosphere.

    But besides the exponential rise of blogs on the internet today, online forums provide a much needed service in the field of amateur (and professional) journalism. Online forums, whether it be a blog, a message board, a facebook account, or a twitter feed, are extremely beneficial to the average Joe (like myself) who has something worthwhile to say to the public. In fact, before the adoption and growth of blogs on the internet, the ordinary citizen really didn’t have a proper venue to get certain things off his or her chest, besides the brief “letter to the editor” section in local newspapers. But even the “letter to the editor” section had its limits; most concerned citizens get rejected due to space and content constraints, particularly in nationwide publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal.

    So it came as burst of fresh air that some aspiring students in academia are becoming accustomed to forming their own blogs.

    Here’s the brief conversation I had with Drew yesterday:

    Me: Drew, spot on. This post had to be said, because from my own personal viewpoint, I see very few of my peers experimenting with the thousands of forums and message boards that contribute to the online discourse. Granted, I am still relatively young in my college career; I just recently graduated at the undergrad level and am heading to grad school in the fall. But even with this limited journey in academia so far, I’m consistently baffled by the fact that students in the human sciences neglect to take advantage of the internet.

    There is a whole world out there besides the dusty coated books in the library and the up-to-the-date textbooks we are forced to buy on an annual basis. The world of print media is quickly being succumbed by websites and tweets, if it hasn’t been already. Academics like Steve Walt, Marc Lynch, Peter Bergen and the like have all expanded their knowledge base and following through the establishment of their blogs. And for the most part, all three of these individuals have increased their stature in the IR community like never before. In fact, I didn’t hear much about Walt before I ventured onto his blog at ForeignPolicy.com.

    Naturally, you would think that M.A. and PhD students today would follow their example. I started blogging relatively early (my own blog is approaching its one-year anniversary this month), and some of my friends have indeed follow suit. It would just be refreshing to see more ideas out there (especially in the field of political science and IR), thus generating more debate and more networking.

    Drew: I am very pleased to see that you have taken up blogging—particularly in your undergrad. Best of luck, and keep up the great work (just checked out The Docket)!

    And of course, other people contributed to the conversation as well.

    To make the story short: MAKE YOUR OWN BLOG!!

    • Interesting points. I agree with you, blogging can be interesting. But there are many different types of blogging. And I’m not particularly convinced by the blogging I’m doing. I just don’t know where to take it and how to do that. Do you have any ideas about that?

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