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Thread: Good-bye Abu Muqawama?

  1. #1
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Good-bye Abu Muqawama?

    Apparent flash of light from Abu -M here,

    My friend and boss Nate Fick, meanwhile, accurately described me last week as being someone who enjoys taking a more deliberate approach and digging deep down into an issue before offering comment. Blogging forces me into more or less split-second reactions to complicated policy events before I have had the opportunity to research and weigh opposing views. In addition, the AD/HD nature of this medium -- as well as its format -- has harmed both my research abilities as well as my ability to write in the long form. Blogging, like any medium, is one you get better at with practice. As I have become a better blogger, my long-form writing skills have atrophied.
    Really?
    Any CNAS guys post here?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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  2. #2
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Blogging cannot force the blogger to do anything.
    It's his editorial decision to write about current affairs or not.

    He changed his decision, that's all.

    Current events are overestimated anyway. You do usually not get a good picture of events until months later. Many "breaking stories" are simply a waste of time, for their content is wrong or misleading due to insufficient time for research and analysis.


    I also disagree on the atrophy of long form skill due to short blogging in general.
    It may have happened to him, but do we seriously lose long form writing skills by writing in short form? Think of letters, e-mails, press releases, forum texts, blog comments - do all this short form writing hurt your long form writing skill? I don't think so. The opposite may even be the case; you train yourself to get to the point.
    The only thing that suffers is the comprehensiveness of long form writing. You may train yourself to get to the point in long articles without casting light on an issue from ten different angles.

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    I think the real problem is that when you blog about one narrow topic then you run out of material quickly. I only read the blog over the past few months. During that time, I noticed that it was the same topic everyday - really no new information - and the comments generally were the same handful of people carrying on with the same arguments, regardless of what the thread was about.

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    I've always very much enjoyed Andrew's blog. However, since it moved to CNAS there's been a noticeable shift in the trolls:thoughtful discussion ratio towards the former. I understand well how that makes the blogging far less enjoyable and productive for the blogger (not to mention the reader--I had pretty much stopped commenting there).

    I'll continue to look forward to whatever Ex writes (including, if you're reading this, that thesis--hint, hint).
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    I've never been a huge fan of blogging for the reasons that he identifies, as well as what I consider to be the somewhat sterile nature of the medium. And I would also agree that focusing on a specific type of writing (especially in a medium where content isn't always the point) does hurt your ability to create longer, more complex pieces (more because you retrain or recondition your thought process to compose short, supposedly pithy blog bits). You may be able to get to the point quickly, but is it the correct point? Have you missed something while rushing to that pithy post?

    Not everyone writes or composes in the same way. If he feels that blogging is hurting his ability to perform complex analysis, then stepping away from it is the right thing for him to do. The noise to signal ratio in blogging is far too high, and it's easy to see where that would get distracting.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    I was just intrigued by the assertion that blogging
    "Blogging forces me into more or less split-second reactions to complicated policy events before I have had the opportunity to research and weigh opposing views."
    So writing about something while not understanding it, risks saying stupid things? Wow. Who'd have known.

    ....and besides this just isn't true. There is no requirement to comment. Clear writing is a product of clear thinking. You either understand what you are looking at or you don't . If not, stay silent, until you do.

    I just cannot see how "blogging" creates the problems Abu-M seems to be suffering from.
    Being a poster here on SWJ/C maybe a bit different but it has changed my military thought life completely! Love it!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I just cannot see how "blogging" creates the problems Abu-M seems to be suffering from.
    Being a poster here on SWJ/C maybe a bit different but it has changed my military thought life completely! Love it!
    I think it probably has something to do with his writing process. His assertion that he feels compelled to provide "split-second reactions" speaks strongly to that. Plus the dynamic of blog posting is different from the SWC interaction process. To me blogs are more like editorial writing (more of a one-way discussion framed around a simplified or rambling point) while message boards are more akin to discussions with a better feedback loop. They develop and shift over time, while blogs seem (at least to me) more static and snapshot oriented.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post

    I just cannot see how "blogging" creates the problems Abu-M seems to be suffering from.
    Yea, hasn't bothered me any.....

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    Default I thought this .....

    from Steve
    Plus the dynamic of blog posting is different from the SWC interaction process. To me blogs are more like editorial writing (more of a one-way discussion framed around a simplified or rambling point) while message boards are more akin to discussions with a better feedback loop. They develop and shift over time, while blogs seem (at least to me) more static and snapshot oriented.
    an hour after Steve posted this - and before I got down to his post.

    Very true and amen.

    Mike

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    Well said Wilf!

    To be honest, I've followed AM for a long time and grew to be very critical of his writing which often displayed a dangerous ignorance of Afghanistan. It was particularly troubling considering his move from analyst to policy advocate. It's one thing to lack depth-of-knowledge as a simple blogger, it's quite another when in a position to influence policy.

    I'm really happy with his announced changes. More thoughtful, research-oriented commentary is a much better choice for him, in my opinion.

  11. #11
    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    I felt the blog really went downhill after moving to CNAS. It was obvious that it was no longer a primary focus anymore. Charlie left, and Londonstani just recently returned, who has had some interesting posts.

    The comments did go from a useful banter to the same guys flaming each other in predictable ways.

    Still, sad to see it go.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

  12. #12
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I was just intrigued by the assertion that blogging

    So writing about something while not understanding it, risks saying stupid things? Wow. Who'd have known.
    It's not even only about the knowledge on the subject and the time between event and comment.
    I found that it's also useful to have several days if not weeks between writing and publishing. Some of my blog texts were deleted weeks after being written without ever having been published. Others get a major improvement days or weeks after I wrote the text.

    Quality takes time - that rule has exceptions, but they're rare.


    The reason may have been their area of interest, of course.
    21 links to other blogs are on my blog, about 80 are bookmarked in my browser. AM not - I had it bookmarked a year ago or two, but found it quite uninteresting and deleted the bookmark.

  13. #13
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    So why does Abu-M not join in here? If you want to "up your game", here is a good place to start. Can someone send him a ping?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Just wanted to point out that his blog is not closing, just changing - and for the better IMO.

    Wilf, that's a good idea. The council is THE place to be!

  15. #15
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Wilf, that's a good idea. The council is THE place to be!
    Well you'd think, but good and cool as we are, we are pretty short on the high-profile "foot-note" folks. Sure we have Gian Gentile, Tom Odom, Rob, and Cav, but I haven't seen Steve Metz for a while for example, and the names frequently mentioned in the "COIN" debate seem to want to stay clear - otherwise they'd be here.

    SWC is exceptionally well policed and monitored and the level of behaviour is excellent, so nothing to fear there.

    We are also blessed with a whole raft of basically world-class but lesser known thinkers, too numerous to mention and I think they keep this place very honest indeed, and they are usually are not very deferential to folks here unless they can hold their own.
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 11-26-2009 at 02:41 PM. Reason: Can spell Cowl
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  16. #16
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The reason may have been their area of interest, of course.
    21 links to other blogs are on my blog, about 80 are bookmarked in my browser. AM not - I had it bookmarked a year ago or two, but found it quite uninteresting and deleted the bookmark.
    Now that should have been in different order:
    21...uninteresting...
    then
    The reason...

    This kind of thing happens when you mis-use copy & paste to work on a few lines...

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    Default Conformity and non-conformity

    Some thoughts generated by Wilf's last post.

    SWC has its "rules" of conformity, which primarily deal with the behavior of the messenger, and presentation of the message; as Wilf correctly notes:

    SWC is exceptionally well policed and monitored and the level of behaviour is excellent, so nothing to fear there.
    But, as to the message (and the concomitant rule: attack the message, not the messenger), SWC places a premium on a type of non-conformity. The term "argument" seems generally too strong a word; although arguments do occur. Generally, the norm seems to be a "discussion" or "discourse" with intent to arrive at the "right" solution or solutions (since we are an unruly bunch of cats, not quite as laid back as the French cat Henri ).

    That runs together with a premium on independent thinking, which because of the wide spectrum of topics requires attention not only to what you want to say, but to what others have said already. So, a certain amount of "disputation" constitutes SWC conformity, as Wilf points out:

    We are also blessed with a whole raft of basically world-class but lesser known thinkers, too numerous to mention and I think they keep this place very honest indeed, and they are usually are not very deferential to folks here unless they can hold their own.
    Why don't major think-tankers post here ? I dunno. Perhaps, it is because think-tanks tend to be somewhat bureaucratic institutions (each with its own culture), where "disputation" may be considered non-conformity or even counter-formity.

    Since Andrew Exum is a native of East Tennessee, he should fit right in here.

    As of writing this, SWC has Threads: 7,358, Posts: 85,462, Members: 3,852. Most members are readers and occasional posters (or simply fall away; sometimes after their pet theory has been shelled or ignored). Some posting stats (compiled just before I started this post):

    No of posts and posters (26 Nov 2009):

    50 or more - 164
    100 or more - 101
    250 or more - 60
    500 or more - 38
    1000 or more - 22
    2000 or more - 9

    So, to Wilf a virtual Turkey Schwarma platter; and to all a Happy Thanksgiving and ensuing holiday and holydays season - especially to those we have sent to foreign lands or who are enroute.

    Best to all (and we have snow on the ground - just a little bit)

    Mike

  18. #18
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Let me drop a smart ass line on top of all that was mentioned before:

    The golden rule about blog post quantity is one blog text per worthy idea/insight/story.

    Blog posts should not be related to the calendar in any way.

  19. #19
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Control vs. Discussion

    Mike,

    I think you might be close as to why some bloggers don't necessarily hang with us here at the Council, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be another reason as well: control. On their blogs they have total control, and there really isn't any discussion in the sense that we have here. They can turn off (or ignore) comments, which don't even necessarily show up on the main post unless you click on a link. Here they can't do that.

    We have had one or two blogging types show up here, and they seemed rather uncomfortable (at least to me) that their ideas were questioned or even discussed in a non-agreeing way. It's hard to get your canned message out when you can't control the message past the initial post.

    My take on blogs (and I have to admit in the interest of full disclosure that I don't really care for them) is that they are vehicles for canned messages, opinions, or information and often not vehicles for discussion. There are of course some notable exceptions (just like there are a raft of crappy message boards out there), but it seems to me that some of the more interesting blogs take on the "question and answer" or "discussion" mode of message boards.

    Just my $.01. It would be $.02 but I'm not footnoteable.....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  20. #20
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    We have had one or two blogging types show up here, and they seemed rather uncomfortable (at least to me) that their ideas were questioned or even discussed in a non-agreeing way.
    Much more!

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