Why everyone at Whitman should read the blogs I read

Russ Caditz-Peck

Imagine a discussion class at Whitman, only your classmates are the smartest people in the world, and you don’t pay a cent. Welcome to the “blogosphere”!

Matt Damon put it well in Good Will Hunting when he mumbled, “Here’s you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f******* education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library.”

Substitute “political blogs” for “the public library” and the late charge for an Internet connection, and Matt Damon at last becomes relevant.

Daily blogs on politics and economics are revolutionizing our national discourse. Nobel Prize winners and internationally renowned intellectuals are using the Internet everyday to debate the ideas that shape our nation. Those of us lucky enough to have the Internet are invited to read and join in.

Reading the daily musings and analyses of some of the world’s smartest people is a crash course in the how the world works. Daily blogs offer a unique medium that encourages condensed, informal discussion. These are not dense and heady treatises, but clear and quick analyses of what’s going on in the world today.

As Whitman students, we have chosen to invest four years and a huge sum of money in a broad, liberal arts education. The experience of the classroom and face-time with professors and peers is invaluable. But exposure to the thinkers and discourse offered by the “blogosphere” is an amazing supplement that all students should know about and take advantage of.

By reading blogs, you will learn what issues and ideas brilliant people think are important today. You will read digestible and often funny posts on why Obama’s stimulus matters, why health care is important and who has the power to change things. You will see how they argue their points, and how they draw their conclusions.

Then you will read another expert who disagrees, often directly quoting the original author, and thus be one step closer to grasping the complexity of our world. If you’re lucky, you’ll see how all that theory you learned in class applies to real-world issues.

Blogs are not a huge time commitment. Replace your morning shower with reading blogs. Just kidding, but I do.

If you have read this far, there may be a chance you actually want to try this blog thing.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs to Google: Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Paul Krugman and Andrew Sullivan. Some awesome group blogs also include “The Plank” at The New Republic and “TAPPED” at The American Prospect. For the most part these authors are liberal, but by no means are they insular in their discussion. Rather, they debate and link to conservative bloggers everyday: challenging the ideas popular at The National  Review Online or the Cato Institute.

But while blogs are useful, opinions can only go so far. The near-infinite amount of info and opinions accessible on the Internet may revolutionize the national discourse and expand your knowledge, but this does not equal social change. Democracy is, or at least should be, naturally antagonistic. While ideas may clash via blogs, real activism should stem from this. Furthermore, blogs cannot offer a substitute for professional journalism in a healthy democracy. For more on these points, see past columns on the nation’s need for newspapers and a strengthened student movement. Until next week, happy blogging!