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The Bloggerville Community from My Front Porch
01/26/2003

I haven't done much personalized posting of late, and I've got a number of new readers, so I thought I'd offer some perspective, cathartic to me, on how I feel I fit into the Internet opinion world.

If Bloggerville were a tourist town, with the Libertarian Amusement Park on one end, the Conservative Country Club on the other, and St. Blog's Parish somewhere in the middle, I'd be the guy who lives at the intersection of roads leading to all three, with a swing set, a putting green, and a modest shrine on my front yard. (We locals don't talk much about them folks from the lib'ral side a' town, although they do make their presence known, and we do suspect that they congregate in private, secret meetings.) I'm sympathetic, on points, to people of all three of these groupings, but I'm hardly ever included when a gang goes out on the town together, unless invited by a buddy or brought along for one evening when a particular analysis of mine hits a resonant note at the karaoke machine of opinions. I suppose such withdrawn perspective is valuable, on the whole, but it does, sometimes, get lonely.

Members of the in-crowd at the Libertarian Amusement Park often, on contentious issues, convey the impression that they are such fervent supporters of individual rights so that they'll have the right to exclude others from the biggest ride in the park — The Great American Debate Machine — locking out those with conflicting beliefs about what, exactly, is an individual right. Oh, everybody is welcome beyond the gates (a good thing, too, because it takes up a sizable portion of the town's real estate), but the moment a visitor suggests that the ride take a different turn, he's liable to be shouted down. (And in such a way that small children ought quickly to be shuffled out of earshot.)

The Conservative Country Club, on the other hand, is a bit more candidly insular. There, a visitor will find fewer opportunities to comment, and, although it varies by party, it often seems that relative outsiders are strongly encouraged to arrange for tee-times of their own. Moreover, it is the rare guest who is invited to add his own pitted idea to a conversation mid-eighteen. That said, membership is free and open, the company in the Email Bar is affable, and the entire club is a virtual wellspring of sound advice and strong ideas. Of course, a self-made blogger must get used to the high odds that, at some point, a fellow member will make reference to a Harvard classmate or a relative or a close friend in such a way as to engender the sense that invitation to the monthly formal dinner is not solely contingent upon the merit of one's game.

St. Blog's Parish is quite different in that the group officially gathers only once a week and on special occasions. Still, one will see fellow congregants around town, and most of them will listen politely to any comments that might be offered. As befits those gathered for religious reasons, most of the discussion involves the theological implications of the other goings-on around town and how faith ought to inform one's activities at the park or stroke technique at the club. Still, while the vast majority of members of St. Blog's are extremely friendly, open, and interested in fostering a sense of community, on occasion, a statement or a look upon bumping into certain members at the club or in the park will contribute to a suspicion that an inner cadre exists, induction into which is only to be gained outside of Bloggerville, in Print Media Township or in Radioburgh.

Despite the continued human fallibility of those who spend some time within its borders, Bloggerville is a new community, in which imposed relationships and social walls are not yet concretely established. For that reason, we who merely live there may maintain some hope that our activities will carry opportunity and friendship over to the world away from the computer.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 02:46 PM EST