” I’m a big believer in the importance of debate, but I think I might slightly alter the terminology and talk about “conversation” (a distinction Craig Westover pointed out to me once). Conversations can be debates. But they can also be open minded exploration of other points of view.
I intentionally visit blogs by those I know I’ll disagree with regularly. I also visit blogs by people I know will bring up interesting topics I wouldn’t normally think about, or question things I might take for granted. Sometimes I debate; sometimes I converse; sometimes I ask questions; etc.
As I see it, blogs are especially suited for this kind of conversation, whereas the old media was designed more for pronouncement. Take the conversation out of blogs and they’re little more than electronic magazines. Nothing wrong with that per se. But blogs offer something different, and I like that.
That brings us to the echo chamber. I know echo chambers. I used to read and post at Free Republic all the time. FR was a rightwing Kos before there was a Kos.
Echo chamber experiences start out very nice. You get warm fuzzies by getting to be on the majority side of almost all debates. But after a while that gets very dull. Then it gets stifling. A culture starts to develop where you have your own little politically correct code, and your own little PC narcs. Inevitably some opinions become forbidden to be expressed, no matter how large a part of the real world those opinions might be. This makes those within the echo chamber increasingly at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding and persuading those who don’t live in the same echo chamber. They literally create cultural barriers to outsiders, with their own jargon, standards, and values.
So put me down as someone in favor of the “blog as conversation,” versus “blog as echo chamber” model.” -Doug
Couldn’t have said it better myself.