Saturday, January 27, 2007

The enemy of thought

Today, I received an e-mail (not sure how they got my address) from Barnes and Noble announcing the new B&N free online book club. It's a place "where readers and writers meet!"

The bait worked. And with one little push of a button, I was there. The writer-included discussion that I was interested in wasn't up and running yet (unless you count 37 "introductory" messages), so I decided to visit a month-old discussion of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

A short scan through the first thread convinced me that this book club was not for me. People weren't listening to each other. For the most part, they were just writing gobbledy-gook. At one point, someone replied to the discussion of chapters 1-6 with a message that can be summed up in his first three words: "I hate weddings."

I'm sure there's good stuff in there too. (The moderator seemed to be doing a decent job of responding with helpful information.) But I'm not willing to wade through 44 posts to see it. I'll stick with my neighborhood book club, thank you very much. (I promise to come next month, Kat!)

All of this leads me to a question: are online forums of real value? If so, when? And how? I recently read an article that stated that blogs were the enemy of thought, that no useful discussion can be had on them because of their format and limitations. In a way, I'm testing that idea by even asking these questions here. So what do you think?

3 Comments:

Blogger John said...

In my vast experience...yeah, right...I have found most people talk past each other when posting online. Online posts are best limited to informative updates, whether personal or corporate. When things get beyond simple responses readers have to wade through gobbledy-gook (and is that how you spell it?).

Sun Jan 28, 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Spring said...

What did you think about the article? Online forums are created for discussion, so I think that there's question as to whether they are fulfilling their basic purpose. But blogs can either be informative or discussion-oriented (in my opinion, the best do both).

There's a huge difference between saying that blogs are limited and calling them the enemy of thought. I just don't see the rational behind the former.

I can understand how Myspace can be the enemy of thought. But blogs in general?

Mon Jan 29, 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

And my two cents worth...

I disagree with the premise that blogs were created for discussion. They are chiefly created to give the author a public.

There's a material difference. Celebrities seek fame, but not necessarily criticism.

True, most blogs contain very little discussion. But I think blogs still promote thought by encouraging people to engage with the issues.

Personally, I find that I don't really know what I think about something until I write about it.

Tue Feb 06, 09:49:00 AM  

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