Sally Ho, Oh Sullivan!

Andy Sullivan is sorta-kinda-maybe leaving the blogosphere, at least for awhile. I don't generally agree with the guy (particularly when he called me part of some imaginary liberal fifth column), but he's one hell of a writer and I've always liked his blog. Plus, when he agreed with you, you could just quote him and appear eloquent by association, which was a nice service.

His reasons for leaving are good ones, by the way, you should read them and keep them in mind as you trawl through your daily blog list. This is a medium that overtly discourages consideration, editing and the slow evolution of thought in favor of overheated missives charting an instant reaction. That's got its good points, but it also leads to a lot of mistakes and a fair amount of intellectual mediocrity. I know, for instance, that my ability to read outside works is terribly hampered by the need to stay current on enough blogs, articles and news to feed this site. That's good in keeping me hyper-informed, but it bars me from achieving a deep, nuanced understanding of issues. It's also why the best blogs, in my opinion, are written by folks with a preexisting expertise, a job that encourages thoughtfulness and further learning, and the ability to post on a relaxed schedule and only when inspiration hits. Good examples there are Mark Schmitt, Steve Clemons, the peeps at Crooked Timber, and Lessig. Some, like Yglesias, Plumer and Drum, seem able to bring expertise into high posting schedules, possibly through the general level of information absorbed while working in a political magazine (which wouldn't account for the Orange County-based Calpundit, so I have no idea). Even the wordsmiths need time and slower posting schedules, with Digby and Wolcott offering only semi-daily sprinklings of rhetorical excellence.

My point? I need one of those? Don't assume that our informing potential is very deep. There's no doubt that obsessive consumption will give you a knowledge base a mile wide, but you'd be better off settling for 19 blocks of shallow waters and spending the extra time in the data downloads that only multi-hundred page books can offer. Read us -- please! -- but, like Andrew notes, take some time once in a while to go farther than this medium can take you.

Update: So long as I'm kicking blogs in the shins, read Ed Kilgore's post on comments. He's righter than we generally like to believe. One thing I'm really enjoying about the new site is the comments -- you all are a bunch of smart, reasoned, well-informed peeps and I regularly learn as much reading your responses as I do researching (ha!) the post. Once comment boards get too huge, the seem to become unwieldy, troll-infested, or vituperative (and yes, I know there are counterexamples). On Pandagon, a good rule of thumb was any post with more than 30 comments had devolved into a flame war. On the other hand, they also keep people coming back and help form a communities. It's a tradeoff, and often a good one, but as Ed rightly notes, we shouldn't pretend it doesn't exist.

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