Följande är ett
utkast, en idèskiss, ett sätt att få syn på en del tankar jag har i
huvudet just nu. Jag våre djupt tacksam om de (få antagligen) av er som
orkar läsa den skulle ta er tid att kommentera. Var brutal :-). Jag är
There is the old adage that those that can not do, teach, and that may very
well be so.
I have two
main areas of teaching; Information
Retrieval - how to (digitally) collect information – and Digital Publishing – how
to express yourself in a way or ways that will make others interested enough to
want to read, hear or see (often all three on a web site).
And I enjoy it immensely. The interaction with the students, the possibilities that arise in the examination of texts, sounds, visions and ideas. The impulse to critical thought and examination. But there is one thing I hate – the actual act of writing. I hate to write. It is as painful as having teeth pulled. Every word is a wisdom toot that has to be probed, poked and finally pulled, all without anaesthetics.
Why are words so terrifying. What is there in the word solidified, the word
made flesh that makes the act of writing so intensely difficult for so many of
of course many reasons, but one of the most powerful is the pre-eminence of the
written word in our educational systems. Not language, not communication but
the written word, the visible word, the published word, the word made flesh.
And this solidified word often makes the difference between a career and a
non-career, [certainly in the academic world]. Written journalism has primacy
over aural or visual journalism. Primacy
in respect, not popularity.
schools and universities there are teachers who have taught for countless years
and taught excellently. They have been the catalyst, often more than so, for a
large number of excellent journalists and writers, but their feats are seldom
recognised. A bad teacher who is published will almost always be promoted ahead
of a great teacher who is not. There are of course good reasons for this, but that does not alter the fact.
me to blogging and the vexed question of why the Swedish left does not blog.
as a majority of journalists are “leftist” and as the Social Democratic Party
has been in power for more or less fifty years, they have no need to blog to
get their message out
being collective-based has meant that individuals are less important than
movements and therefore less likely to express individual opinion.
these answers are deeply flawed, but I am beginning to think that the question
itself is wrongly posed.
question should not be “why does the Swedish left not blog?” because in fact
There are a
large number of left-leaning bloggers in Sweden
them are big names as yet (there are no major left-wing political figures
blogging with the exception of Margot Walström
- who blogs from the perspective of an
- though there is some movement
in that area) and there has not been a leftist blogger who has broken into
mainstream media. That will come in time.
seems to be a pretty even gender
division among bloggers.
question should perhaps be why the working class do not blog.
This is not
a Swedish phenomenon. As far as I can see, this is a feature of the developed
world (there is a huge explosion of blogging in the developing world,
particularly in Arabic
[general term] (1, 2) but I lack the language and
cultural skills to make a judgement on that).
In the US
USthere are lots of leftist bloggers. Almost all white, middle-class and educated (I have not done an extensive empirical study; this is my gut feeling after several years of following the blogosphere and having discussions with bloggers from all over the planet).
There are very
few black or Hispanic bloggers.
problem is not Swedish and not gender based. It is, I believe, a class problem.
The middle and upper classes live in, and control, a society that
privileges literacy and tends to demean orality.
Writing and reading are primarily solitary activities.
Orality tends to be more communal and externalizing. Oral communication
unites people in groups. The trade union
and socialist movements have traditionally been orality based.
It has been through meetings and study circles, often involving reading
but almost never involving writing, that the left has built the basis for the
development of strategies and tactics.
This is why the term “arbetarlitteratur”
[working class literature] was coined – because it is not the norm, just as
kvinnolitteratur [women’s literature – the term has no entry in the Swedish wikipedia – someone should start an entry
there] historically connotates a separate and lower status.
To put it another way: Oral cultures rap, literacy-based ones blog.
can we do about this? How can the new “new media” give voice to groups traditionally
excluded from our written-word based culture?
possibility is Podcasting.
It is now extremely inexpensive to make radio programs. All that is needed is a
basic MP3-player with recording possibilities (which most have), a computer
(accessable at a cyber café), a sound editing program – there are really good
ones like Audacity
available for free in both PC and Mac versions and some server space. The
server space costs a little (say at most $50) but hardly a significant
allow for a community-based local (in fact global as Podcasting disables geographic
boundaries) radio, distributable as MP3 files through peer-to-peer networks.
This is an
interesting point to take into consideration when attempts to outlaw the
technology are mooted by powerful groups with vested interests. The stifling of
alternative speech which would be the result of a banning of distribution
technologies is of hugely greater importance than the (unquestionable) losses
of revenue to entertainment companies. And while it may seem paranoid to assume
a hidden agenda I would be surprised if there were not at least some
politicians who see this as “added value”.
it has cost the distributor of digital material more for each extra downloader.
The more popular your material becomes, the heavier the load on the server.
Most service providers charge additional fees if your output exceeds a certain
level (an ironic inversion of the traditional market mechanism of increased
demand leading to increased profit margins for the producer).
technology to the rescue.
programs as bittorrent
files means that the more popular your material is the quicker and cheaper it
gets spread. And it also means that as more and more cell phones become
bittorrent and MP3 enabled (as is happening) then people can get their
subscribed podcasts directly to their phones.
Creative thinking in the field of digital distribution, using filesharing
[oh horrible thought :-)], bittorrenting, podcasting to cellphones,
hybrid forms like texting etc, can lead to an exponential increase in the ability of activist (and other) groups to
communicate and organise.
to the theme of orality there are a huge number of seminars, lectures, meetings
and discussions on a regular basis within the broad left. Trade union and other
activists do not have a tradition of documenting anything other than decisions
taken. These consciousness raising and often information rich discussions
disappear, literally into thin air. These grass-roots intellectuals (what Gramsci
intellectuals”) could have an important roll to play in strengthening the
theoretical and activist foundations of an emerging new left, in tempering,
challenging, and developing the traditional dogmas of the Left – both Marxist,
syndicalist, anarchist and reformist.
be recorded using the cheep MP3-players available, then uploaded to a website
that podcasts them. This would give a corporality, permanency and
“spreadability” to the spoken word as an organisational tool.
lectures, seminars etc could then be
uploaded to a central clearing-house where users could subscribe to categories
of information (lectures, meetings, speeches debates etc) , geography (Umeå, Göteborg Berlin Nairobi
Nairobi, Porte Alegre etc), language or party/organisation.
This would then grow as a hugely valuable archive of discussions in and development of hte left in the 21:st century.