Thus, maybe it *would* be a good time for the blog-reviewers themselves to set some standards. And no, there really isnâ€™t anything wrong with that, because what that allows is progress based on common vocabulary. Thatâ€™s a hallmark of any important issue/discussion.
By setting this kind of standard, I think that you can free yourself from feeling any guilt, or worry, about writing whatever you want. Just call it what it is. Itâ€™s actually kind of a simple solution. A lot simpler than trying to re-define what a review is, which is a pretty slippery slope. One I donâ€™t think needs to be taken.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Robert’s argument, the ideas he suggest and the repercussions it could/would have on the blogosphere. I’ll admit that the argument is well founded; our entire civilization is founded on the idea of having a sustainable set of standards by which humans should live. It’s called a government; but as we all know, a government (no matter what country you live in), while generally a good thing, is hardly perfect.
What Robert’s suggesting could bring some order to the blogosphere, of course, but I can’t help but feel that it would also leech out much of the life and vivaciousness, two of the major factors that make blogs such an organic and exciting medium as compared to other forms of mass media. There’s been much todo about bloggers developing or ‘finding’ their voice, something that sets them apart from others and makes their blog worth picking out from the mass and subscribing to. Any set of standards, no matter how positive they may be in another light, would stilt the bloggers ability to add their own flavour to the blog.
I know that Robert is suggesting something less drastic than this Â- something akin to defining what constitutes a review vs. a reflection on the novel – but I feel that it’s a rather slippery slope, one that could lead to very dangerous things for the blogosphere.
Robert also showed up at Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, to further expound on the idea, and that’s where I think things start to get a little hairy and, frankly, somewhat offensive to those of us who blog.
While the notion that since this is the internet you can do whatever you want and call anything you want to a review might be true on a certain level, that doesn’t mean it will bring the kind of respect some reviewers might desire. Rather, that attitude sets up a glass ceiling of professionalism beyond which you won’t be able to climb.
Standards would allow readers to know what they’re getting into, what to expect from reviews, interviews, articles, et al.. I suppose some people would consider this a good thing, a safe standard by which we could all play. I’d call it communism at best, despotism at worst. I have to wonder, who would set the standards? Only the prolific blogs like Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, OF Blog of the Fallen, Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, Mysterious Outposts, etc…? Where does that leave some of the smaller, less popular blogs? What about new bloggers, do they need to subscribe to these new standards which they had absolutely nothing to do with creating?
As I mentioned earlier, what ensures that the blogosphere thrives is that, yes, ‘this is the internet you can do whatever you want ‘. I think what’s missing from this argument is that it completely disregards the idea of quality and pushing boundaries. When has anything ever moved forward without those who are willing to break new ground, to step outside of the conventions and explore new territory? Why force a ‘Definition by Committee’ upon a blogger? And all of a sudden I lose any claim of professionalism because of a tag attached to an article I write regardless of the quality of the piece?
Robert is approaching the subject as an author, which is fair, and I expect that other authors may share similar concerns and ideas with him. To them, then, I ask how they would feel if a group of publishers and authors gathered together and decided what could/should be considered a novel, what requisites were required to be labeled as such. I recently read an article about several high profile authors (Neil Gaiman, being one of them) raising a huff because publishers wanted to start labelling novels with band to denote the correct age to be reading the novel.
Hell, one of my favourite reviews anyone’s ever written is Gabe Chouinard’s review of Savage Messiah by Robert Newcomb… and he didn’t even read the bloody thing. Read it HERE and tell me it isn’t a damn worthwhile review, and miles better in quality than many reviews by people who have finished the novel properly. Quality certainly can’t be branded.
Perhaps what I most subscribe to is that the blogosphere functions best as an anarchy, a dog eat dog world where only the best, the fittest survive. I like to think that A Dribble of Ink thrives and continues to grow because of the quality of the content I provide, not because I subscribe to some pre-determined definition of professionalism. Many people, for instance, agreed that my review was completely valid; an equal amount seemed to feel like it was slightly out of line. Who then, is right? Whose definition of professionalism do we agree upon? Should a blog not succeed based upon its content and not how the blogger chooses to define that content?
The anarchistic nature of blogs in general is what makes them so appealing to me. If someone doesn’t like a blog, they don’t have to visit it. If someone doesn’t like my reviews, but loves my interviews, then they can choose what to read, leaving the rest in the dust. In the end, though I think Robert has a valid argument, I just can’t help but feel that it would hurt the blogosphere more than it would help.
Give me my freedom, and I’ll show you what I can do.