As a blogger, I know there’s still a bias out there — that blogs are full of lousy editorial material and provide a suboptimal intellectual experience. The source of the bias usually becomes clear — a belief that if what you write is not in print, it must be substandard.
An article in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education shows how deeply this bias runs and how unaware of it even those supposedly attuned to new communication technologies can be. The story is about an initiative called PressForward, a new publishing platform meant to showcase the best online work from blogs and comments and the “gray literature.” Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is backing the venture with $862,000, and a variety of scholars, journalists, and publishers are advising on the project.
This paragraph is what revealed that an underlying print bias continues:
Asked how PressForward will work, Mr. Cohen sketched out a pyramid-like structure that could fish content from the torrent of automatically retrieved items and bump the most notable works into more prominent slots, with community members able to curate the material and suggest revisions. Blog posts that rise to a certain level could get promoted on a home page and tweeted out to the publication’s followers. The dozen or so best posts from the past few months could get bundled into a quarterly review published online and possibly even in print.
<sarcasm>Even in print?! You mean, like a phone book or a throwaway airport magazine? My thinking is going to be trapped by dirty marks on shredded trees* and distributed to a few hundred people after they’ve already been published on a platform that reaches 30% of the world’s population. What an honor!</sarcasm>
It gets back to the “Is Print An Elite Medium? Or a Medium for Elitists?” question.
Even with nearly a million dollars of support, a mission to feature the best online content, and a prestigious group of advisors, the ultimate reward remains . . . print.
* The phrase “dirty marks on shredded trees” was indelibly etched into my consciousness by Bill Hill, formerly of Microsoft, and the only Microsoft employee I’ve ever seen in a kilt.