Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Larvatus Prodeo dies

When I posted Sunday Essay - is the internet drowning in it's own excreta?, I did not expect such an immediate illustration of my point. Two days later, Larvatus Prodeo announced that it was ceasing publication. For the benefit of my international readers, Larvatus Prodeo was a a group left of centre blog.

On Catallaxy Files, Sinclair Davidson sniffed:

Another part of the story, I suspect, is the intellectual exhaustion on the left. They just don’t have a story to tell. Snarky comments can fit into twitter but full argument cannot. I think this is very much a retreat from the front-line in the market for ideas. The new(er) social media complement a blogging presence, while the LP crowd are substituting.

What particularly pleases me is that we at the Cat have managed to renew ourselves and survive the retirement of the founder (Jason Soon – for all the newbies). We have a story to tell and authors to write up our arguments.

Lord knows I did not agree with many of the posts on Larvatus Prodeo and especially the group think displayed in comments,  But then, Catallaxy Files displays exactly the same tendency! 

While I was not a "follower" of  Larvatus Prodeo, I did check it often. I did so because I needed an alternative view on my own perceptions.

On Skepticslawyers, skeptic lawyer (Helen Dale) wrote:  

Leaving everything else aside, Mark made the following observation:

"There’s no longer the same need for a hub for political discussion, as lively debate has migrated to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and as the space for opinion and analysis around the shop has widened. The fact that the ‘blogosphere’ in Australia is no longer a term that makes much sense is an indicator of that change."

The reason I’ve quoted this passage is that I think he’s wrong. I think Twitter is a terrible platform for political debate; it encourages the worst sort of sound-bite approach to complex issues; the only use for Twitter seems to be (a) the conspicuous display of wit (which one of my lecturers at Edinburgh, Alexander McCall Smith, does amazingly well) and (b) the embodiment of Cameron’s First Law. There is no middle ground. And if a tweet is ‘heavyweight’ or thought-provoking, it’s because it links to an article somewhere that addresses the issue in greater depth.

Then there’s facebook, which as my friends know is a repository (at least in my case) for cat humour, funny dog pictures (mainly from Dogs for the Disabled) and my endless complaints about HMRC (when I’m finished this tax seat I plan to burn my Tolley’s statutes, all five volumes of them, 3000+ pages each, printed on Bible paper). The idea that facebook is a good place for political debate strikes me as ‘not even wrong’.

To suggest that either Twitter or Facebook contributes to political debate is, frankly, absurd. How can a constant stream of 140 characters messages actually contribute to serious discussion?

Maintenance of a regular blog is bloody hard and especially for the independent like me. So many of my fellow bloggers have just burned out or, worse, become seduced by the immediate charge that Twitter offers. Yet real discourse comes from thought, and thought cannot be expressed in 140 characters.

The Australian bloggosphere will be the worst for LP's passing.

There was a rather piece on Orange Juice & RyvitaThe Larva Rodeo.


Evan said...

I've been on Twitter for more than a year now (multiply by ten to get face to face years?).

I'm feeling there is less and less point. It is getting to be like those networking meeting - everybody selling and nobody buying. In twitters case everybody broadcasting and nobody engaging. If it was ever a place to engage discussion I think it is rapidly becoming not this place. Which is a problem about success leading to failure.

I think the left has been exhausted in some ways. The rights alternative of reiterating pieties that have been shown to be wrong I don't find an attractive alternative. Dear Mr Hayek please show me one instance of a welfare state that has lead to serfdom. It is your followers who are turning once free-er societies into police states.

Jim Belshaw said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to this comment, Evan. I like the point about success leading to failure.

I don't know that I agree with your second para. I have always found the left right divide a little confusing. I certainly don't think that it is the followers of Mr Hayek who are turning once freer-er societies into police states. I would argue, I think, that this tendency is due to a range of things that actually applies across the ideological board.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance to lavatory rodeo. It won't be missed.

Jim Belshaw said...

I will miss it anon, even though it annoyed me!