Sunday, October 12, 2008
When I was a little kid one of my sisters had a paperweight on her desk with the word "THINK" on it - something you might expect to see on a paperweight, except, if you looked a little closer at the tall skinny close-together letters, you realized that it didn't spell "THINK" at all - it spelled "THIMK" - with an 'M'. Reminding anyone who bothered to take a closer look, that to truly "THINK" requires some effort.
Recently, if you've been looking closely, you'll notice blogs and blog posts by some of your favorite bloggers have been disappearing from blog rolls and replaced with 'selected' blog posts.
I refer to this is phenomenon as 'cherry picking' - meaning that someone is filtering out what they think you don't want to see, presumably sparing you the effort of clicking your mouse one or two more times or freeing you from reading something potentially off-topic.
I have been assured that this is being done in the name of relevance. Therefore, if a blog post isn't relevant to the casino issue, it will not show up.
But upon even closer inspection, you'll notice that my last blog post, Six Degrees of a Casino is missing - and that post is certainly relevant, don't you thimk? I mean, it even mentions the word 'casino' four times, including in the title, not to mention those hot button words 'Middleboro' and 'investors', and even includes an embeded video titled 'SixDegreesofaCasino'.
Now, I do the odd bit of web programming myself, and so I know that even a computer program designed to sniff out posts about Middleboro casino and filter out non-casino posts would have easily slapped a seal of approval on this one. And yet, despite the fact that this post spurred a discussion that would ultimately garner 32 comments, it somehow didn't pass someone's (or something's) smell test.
So how come Bumpkin's blog about blogs got through the censors? It also mentioned 'casino' four times - but never mentioned 'Middleboro' or 'investors' at all.
Now please don't go blaming Bumpkin, since he insists it's not him doing the cherry picking - it's that darn computer program. Which just brings me back to why my last post didn't show up.
Let me tell you where I'm coming from.
I blog about casinos. Mostly about the Middleboro casino, but I do venture out to the State and National arenas on occassion. I'm one of the original anti-casino bloggers. In fact, it was my idea to add blogs to the CasinoFacts.org web site - a concept I've defended against pro and anti-casino folks alike.
I blog solely about casinos, their impacts and the people who love them. Even when I blog about blogging, the posts are peppered with references to a casino. When I do offer a rare political opinion, it comes down to how I think that it might effect our chance of getting a casino in Middleboro. I've blogged for almost a year and a half. I've blogged when you've been listening and I've blogged when you weren't. It sometimes takes a week or more of work to produce a single blog post. I've rarely produced a blog in under four hours - and that's the writing component only - not the background research, video production, graphics, links, etc.
I am a founding member of CasinoFacts.org, the first member from a surrounding community, sat on the board of directors for a year, and am a current member of the Board of CasinoFreeMass. I've attended last summers selectman's meetings, pre-CRAC meetings, and still attend Regional Task Force meetings. I've gone around to different towns to discuss casinos. You might even say I have my finger on the pulse of the issue since I'm the one who compared Glenn Marshall to a date rapist a month before it was revealed that he was a convicted date rapist and who correctly predicted Mr. Bond would show up at a Mass Highway meeting to see if he could work a casino into it. I've spoken at the Massachusetts State House about casinos. And just last month my videos were played for a national audience at the Stop Predatory Gambling conference.
As for my Six Degrees of a Casino post, I'd spent an awful lot of time doing the research for that, even taking a trek down to the old Middleboro Library, in order to present the facts about an issue that has been discussed almost as long as I've been involved in fighting casinos.
So I guess my question is, if that one post, and even my entire blog isn't 'relevant' to fighting casinos, then what exactly is?
What I'm hoping is, that whatever screening device is being used to cherry pick my blog isn't wearing Bond goggles. I mean, I know there's some people in Middleboro who think we shouldn't be looking too closely at Bond... "we've got to heal the wounds"... "let's move on"... "focus on the investors not the small town guys"...etc.
But this is the thing - the anti-casino movement isn't only about Middleboro. It's never been. From that first meeting of CasinoFacts.org to the Regional Task Force on Casino Impacts, people from the surrounding communities have been involved. And people who live outside of Middleboro, folks who've had no vote and no voice in the matter of a casino, well they still deserve to know about the people who are promoting the casino project that will effect them even if it makes some folks in Middleboro uncomfortable.
So I really hope it's not that.
Bloggers, unlike reporters and columnists, don't make a salary. The payment for our work, for our tenacity, is readership. To know that people are hearing the message, the whole message, and that they're learning more, or thimking perhaps differently about something, and having conversations or taking action they might not otherwise.
Bloggers come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, philosophies, and poltical persuasions. And to me, the fact that we can all still agree on one thing - that we oppose a Middleboro casino - just makes the message stronger.
Blogging is, and has been, one of the most effective tools in the grassroots activists arsenal. Which is why Stop Predatory Gambling lists becoming a blogger as one the four best ways to take action.
My fellow bloggers and I, as well as our families, have paid a price for taking that action. My children have been dragged onto on-line forums and message boards, I've had to report a threat to the police, we've been threatened with lawsuits and liens, have been lied about, misrepresented and bullied. And everything in between. And it's taken a toll - apparently all so a person or some computer program to decide which of our posts is relevant.
Folks, if the motivation for bloggers to continue blogging is the knowledge that our blogs are being read and that they're making a difference, then where's the motivation to continue making the effort, taking the time, and putting ourselves and our familes through hell knowing that some of our hard work is going to end up on the cutting room floor?
Now, perhaps my recent blog post Six Degrees of a Casino was cherry picked into no man's land in error, and that the blog screening program, it's programmer, or possibly even an individual screener never had anything but good intentions. Which might explain why the road to hell is paved with them.
The calendar says it's currently 2008 - and in 2008 most people grasp the concept that a blog is an opinion piece and an on-going journal. News sites, community sites, political sites - blogs are everywhere, and they're not going away. It's time to stop worrying about what people might think and just let them think. People may indeed go to to a web site looking for certain information, but they click on blogs looking for something else, and can manage to do so with the tacit understanding that it neither guarantees relevance or implies endorsement.
The fact that most of my readers oppose a Middleboro casino is obvious proof that they don't need to ask the Wizard for a brain. And I for one trust them to be able to go a web site, click a link which takes them to the front page of my whole entire blog and be able to make their own decisions as to whether a post is relevant to them or not.
Thimk about it.
Posted by Gladys Kravitz at 10:35 AM