This site will still be available for archives, and in the beginning, I’ll probably link back frequently to posts here.
Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category
A good post on ‘How to Disagree‘ from Paul Graham. Given the recent meme about response etiquette, it seems to have come at an opportune time. I’m also pleased to note that he reinforces my argument about expertise in his section on Ad Hominems:
Saying that an author lacks the authority to write about a topic is a variant of ad hominem—and a particularly useless sort, because good ideas often come from outsiders. The question is whether the author is correct or not. If his lack of authority caused him to make mistakes, point those out. And if it didn’t, it’s not a problem.
Shameless plugging aside, the piece is worth the read. It has advice that I’ll try to keep in mind as I argue with Sean on the List, in my del.icio.us tags, and in response posts I make here. His heirarchy of disagreement also highlights the reason why I don’t tend to comment on posts, no matter how much I might disagree with them: it’s hard.
The most convincing form of disagreement is refutation. It’s also the rarest, because it’s the most work. Indeed, the disagreement hierarchy forms a kind of pyramid, in the sense that the higher you go the fewer instances you find.
To refute someone you probably have to quote them. You have to find a “smoking gun,” a passage in whatever you disagree with that you feel is mistaken, and then explain why it’s mistaken. If you can’t find an actual quote to disagree with, you may be arguing with a straw man.
I like actually responding to the merits of a piece, usually at some length, which take quite a bit of preparation. As a result, more often than not, I break a cardinal rule of blogging: just post already! Of course, that’s why I’m also excited about this piece.
>I’ve now made my way into the blogsphere. In the course of a Facebook debate about older men, gender roles and Karl Rove with the charming, funny, and always interesting Robert Stacy McCain, I linked my post about intellectuals. Stacy did me the kindness of taking me seriously, and replied via his blog. Of course, this linking back and forth is starting to resemble a fun-house mirror room, but if that’s what it takes….
>One of the problems I often face with blogging (well, more often with blogging, but this is a general writing issue) is that I will read something and be incredibly inspired and so think that I am ready to write, only to realize that the idea hasn’t yet gelled and the words won’t come.
This is different from writer’s block (when I know exactly what I want to say and the words still won’t come) but it is similar enough that if I’m tired or stressed, I’ll confuse the two and go into a panic (I have writer’s block, I’m worthless!).
In reality, I just have to start writing down everything I think is important and then constantly edit it. Sometimes, the process more resembles normal editing; perhaps a vigourous winter pruning before the spring blooms, but nothing major. At other times, it’s more like hacking my way through a bramble patch: lots of hard work, no guarantee of satisfaction, and everything ends up a bloody, sticky mess.
I feel like I’m doing the latter with a couple of ideas I have for the EI. I wrote a first draft introduction to this blog in February, and now 3 weeks later, I’m still nowhere close to shaping it properly. The same is true for several other planned entries.
Luckily, I’ve at least finally realized that it’s not writer’s block, and so have stopped fighting and turned to other projects instead. As a result, I’ve now written several entries for the EI, We Are Publius, Blogworthy, and The List.
So I’m working on it. Blogging, as much as I enjoy it, is not always the best way for me to approach an idea, although it is so convenient for the presentation afterwards. This is a tension I’ll probably always feel.
But, live, and learn, and write.