Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Danger of Blogging... Part 2: CDI Factor

The Danger (and Adventure) of Blogging... Part 2: Chicks Dig It

Blogging. Chicks Dig It. (maybe).

It is clear that chicks do it, and that some might make okay money at it (maybe just the sexbloggers and a few of the right-wing blog hotties). However, in j-blogging and more well-reasoned blogging circles, the winner of the Knight Batten Award only got $10,000, and Jessica Cutler is reduced to begging on her blog: "Please, I need money for slutty clothes and drugs! - DONATE" and admits to being "a published author that jumps out of cakes for money". Former Wonkette writer Ana Marie Cox complained vociferously about the ungenerous pay she recieved, a $18,000/year base salary.

Yet blogs have long had a reputation for undue influence in politics (see the 2004 NY Times article, Fear and Laptops on the Campaign Trail), and there is something inherently sexy about political power. Political bloggers like Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Minnesota's own Michael Brodkorb are famous (or infamous) in part for their paid political consulting work.

Non-politico blogging scandals?

Farnaz Fassihi was a reporter whose private e-mails about her experience as a reporter in Iraq widely republished on blogs. She also kept a journal of her own, now in a blog format: Baghdad Diary.

A key piece of this scandal is the idea that her e-mail was a form of journalism, not private communication, and a breach of contract of sorts between her and her employer. Additionally the privately held opinions might have been contaminating her journalism, or that the intimate communication of her experience expressed a kind of truth that was absent from the careful considered and edited reportage coming out of Iraq The following exerpts are from an essay by Jay Rosen:

Tim Rutten, media writer at the Los Angeles Times, thinks the backdrop to the wayward e-mail is the war against Big Media...

“At the core of the relentless partisan assault on the American news media’s tradition that good journalism can and should be unbiased, is a campaign to obliterate the distinction between the public and the private,” Rutten writes. “The notion here is that because journalists, like other human beings, have thoughts and opinions about the world around them, those sentiments must ultimately contaminate their journalism.”

It is also a question of intimacy and illicit thrill (More Jay Rosen):

It’s a remarkable thing, this statement, remarkable too that it was termed supportive of Fassihi by David Folkenflik in the Baltimore Sun. First, there’s nothing “private” about her descriptions. “Fact for fact,” said the Houston Chronicle, “Fassihi’s e-mail offers little that can’t be found in published accounts.”

What has made it dart from Web site to Web site is the contrast of unvarnished personal expression with Fassihi’s status as reporter for an establishment newspaper. What has made the piece resonate is that its voice was not meant for the public.

I disagree with the drift of this, suggesting an illicit thrill. What makes the piece resonate (for some of us) is the simple question: why can’t this be the journalism, this testifying e-mail? Why can’t reporters on the ground occasionally speak to the “public” like this one occasionally spoke to her friends?

So, that's the segway to Iraq.

In Robert Young Pelton's new book he follows a cadre of Blackwater Security employees, who like many Iraq contractors, are probably hopped up on methamphetamines and steroids, watching a good deal of internet porn while off duty, and thusly have become obsessed about the putative effects their macho gear (body armor and guns slung in holsters, or with exotic looking accoutrements) have on the women the meet at the airport to drive into the Green Zone. It is this effect of their weaponry (now prohibited in the airport proper) which they ascribe a CDI Factor to. CDI - Chicks Dig It. As if they've got rhinestones on their sniper scopes, and sachets of potpourri embedded in their Type III body armor vests' ballistic plate pouches. CDI has actually become more of a derogatory term for the kind of equipment the flashy contractors buy, but the serious operator may not actually need to do the job. The job, of course, is killing people, but I happen to believe that "the pen is mightier than the sword".

One the new gateway page to Robert Young Pelton's Black Flag Cafe bulletin board (where he posts as "RYP" the folloing quotes appear, randomly, in a text box below a bullet hole graphic:

RYP says Believe it or not, the number one travelers to war zones are businessmen (sorry, girls)…

RYP says I spend most of my time in places where people are fighting wars. It's not something I recommend -- it's just what I do.


RYP says You should never carry or use a gun in a war zone.

RYP is obviously of a like mind.

Many of my blogger peers rag on the Republican bloggers we know, when these keyboard-bound steroid cream swilling 101sters start talking up the war in Iraq, and their own corresponding patriotism. We jest that we might drive them to the nearest recruiting station, and help them enlist themselves and more usefully harness their passion.

But the DoD is already harvesting it, in the blogosphere, through cultivating relationships with volunteer bloggers, and PsyOps contractors like the Lincoln Group. The DoD is also spending a lot of money trying to glean intelligence from blogs.

So, do chick dig it? Is blogging one of those risky behaviours that incite sexual women's interest in potential male partners, based on the handicap principle or because it is so 'Alpha' and provocative that it demonstrates physical or psychological fitness, genes that would recombine with their own to create more sucessful offspring?

Ladies, let me know :) You might find me later tonight at the Gubernatorial debate, and try to thrust your tongue in my ear...

Whether or not they do, if someone with authority proclaims they do, more men might just be manipulated into exercising free speech online, blogosphere style. David Deida, at least, tells men that women appreciate them for their beliefs, for their essence of freedom. A freedom is truly a value of the leftist blogo-hemisphere vs. the autocracy-cheering, yes-men of the right.

Anyway, in the previous post in this series, I mention the New York Times Piece on blogging risks that was due today. It was a bit of disapoointment, actually. There are very simple risks that some bloggers must consider, outside of issues of journalistic integrity, pissing of the government and becoming the kind of "cyber dissident" that earns a free one way ticket to Gitmo from Uncle Sam, and deals with the more prosaic concerns of stealing time from work, confidentiality agreements, and assumptions of anonymity. It is located here: Blogging the Hand that Feeds You - Subscription required..


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