Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Raising A Glass to My Fellow Bloggers

For you folks joining us for the first time here in the burghosphere, allow me to extend a warm welcome to you. Thanks to countless mentions of a number of Pittsburgh blogs in the mainstream press, our little corner of the internet is seeing a new wave of visitors peeking their heads in to see what all of the fuss is about. You probably haven't come to the People's Republic directly. Instead, it's likely that you began your journey at one of the other excellent blogs which, quite justifiably, got most of the attention in the current news cycle. But if you followed a link from there to here, then I welcome you all the same.

I invite you to read my posts, take from them what you like, reject the things that you think are worthless, and to -- most importantly of all -- leave your comments about what I have to say. The popular notion out there seems to be that we bloggers are accountable to no one; that we we say whatever we want, spread whatever lies we choose, and have no regards for the truth.

If you spend some time reading (and writing) the comments here and on other blogs, you will discover that this notion is not entirely correct. We bloggers are in fact more directly accountable than you might think. While I freely admit that our personal biases and political world views seep into everything we post, we also know that we can't get away with pushing things too far. When we get things wrong, it will usually take only a few minutes for one of our readers to point out our mistakes. When we stretch the facts beyond their inelastic limits, rest assured that somebody -- maybe even you -- will quickly take us to task for it.

Reading a blog will give you some amount of news and a large amount of (usually) well-reasoned commentary. But reading and, again, writing comments about the posts will give you a great deal more. My blog, like many others, allows readers to post their comments anonymously. At first blush, this may seem like a recipe for disaster. But at least within the local burghosphere, it actually provides for a fantastic benefit. We get comments, often anonymously, from people whom you would not normally hear from. People who are knowledgeable about the topic at hand, but who would usually be too shy to tell you about it. People who have experiences to share, but who simply don't have the the time to craft a print-worthy letter to the editor. And perhaps most importantly, people who really know things about local government, but who normally could not speak up about what's happening on Grant Street without fear of reprisal by their political masters.

Sometimes, the comments are way off base, and can be just as biased and inaccurate as anything else that might appear on the internet. But the other commenters, such as yourself, will quickly take care of that by pointing out these errors and setting the record straight.

And so, I salute the local bloggers who, along with their readers, have made a difference to our political discourse. Two special tributes go to the blogs 2 Political Junkies, which was one of the first political blogs on the local scene, and remains as sharp as ever, and The Burgh Report, which does an outstanding job drilling down into the depths of what is going on in Pittsburgh. The authors and commenters at both of these blogs are particularly excellent, but they are only one corner of the burghosphere. Together, we have built a local blogging community that is providing a vital and very important service to the people of this city. I invite you to click away at the blogroll along the right side of your screen. You will find that you agree with some of them of the authors and disagree with others, but I promise that you will learn something from them all.

And finally, I want to close this post with a special recommendation for what may be the funniest thing that I have read on a blog in the past few months. The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat has written a simply hysterical "Open Letter to Jim Motznik" that had me literally in tears late last night. Here's just a sample of what appears there, which makes the point at just how important commenting can be far better and more humorously than I ever could:

We noticed that you have not enabled comments on your blog as of yet, probably, one would suppose, in hopes of staving off the vicious commentary that would surely ensue. You may have thought that this would have solved the problem, but, in reality, you've just moved the discussion to other more seedy venues, of which you have no control. Eventually someone will come up with a parody blog "Jim Motznik Speaks Up" or "Jim Motznik Eats Puppies" or "Jizz Shitsprick Comes Out" or something like that. It won't be pretty for you, but the parody blog will have 10x the content and quality, and probably show a continual loop of the video of you running from the television cameras, and will thus draw more readers than your blog.

And then one day, some old, blue haired constituent will ask you at bingo "So why did you change your name to Jizz Shitsprick?"
Thanks for stopping by, folks. Hope to see you again soon, especially in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Hear. Hear. Here. Here! Hear!

Maria said...

Speaking of the ADB blog, I loved the high school chatter post there too.

Also, one must add that YOUR blog has quickly become a MUST READ!