RiShawn Biddle Doesn’t Know Anything About Blogs

I participated in a panel of bloggers this morning, addressing the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America, Hoosier Chapter) to talk about local blogs with public relations people. Here are my fellow panelists:
RiShawn Biddle, Editorial Writer, The IndyStar, and Expresso blog
Jennifer Wagner, Taking Down Words blog
Gary Welsh, Advance Indiana blog
Matt Tully, political news writer, and IndyStar blog

The Indy Star “bloggers” (I’m sorry, you can’t “blog” inside a newpaper, no matter what bandwagon you’re trying to get on) dominated a lot of the discussion and seemed a bit self-important about their status as “real” writers. That’s nice. I have a journalism degree, too, kids. I thought it was interesting that Matt Tully only has to write three articles a week. I should have stuck with that journalism thing, because that’s pretty slackerish to me. I have to write a lot more than that at my job, and I’m a designer for pete’s sake.

Of the five panelists, I’m the only person who has a technical background and did all the set up for my own blog. I’ve met Gary Welsh before and read his writing every day, and I read Jennifer Wagner’s blog every day also. Both of them cover political issues and are fascinating to read — they know way more about politics than I do and I learn a hell of a lot about what’s going on locally from both of them.

When it comes to RiShawn Biddle, I think the “doesn’t know anything about blogs” is pretty fair of me. What tells me this is the list of “big national bloggers” he threw out — who he thinks the major league players are. His was a pretty comical list — he mentioned “Instapundit” three times, and someone from a news site twice. I know that Instapundit falls into the top list of unique links, but that’s not the only measure of “big.” I factor “awareness of new media trends” and “tech saavy” into the the mix, which means they not only have a large audience currently, but will adjust with the changes when the “blogosphere” morphs into something quite a bit different, which it’s currently poised to do. He also threw out Movable Type as the hot new blog technology for savvy bloggers. I have this site on Movable Type, but it’s about 3 years out of date as the hot technology. I’m looking at coding my own content management software in Django right now.

Here are some actual “A-List” national bloggers according to me, but with some backup from Technorati:
Boing Boing
Jason Santa Maria
Signal vs. Noise
Creating Passionate Users
Daily Kos

Also, I don’t know if Rishawn knows a lot about education. Not that I do either, but his example of educational shortcomings was pretty off. He mentioned that in his blog he covered an issue about the fact that the standard “passing level” for the driving test is higher than the standard “passing level” for the ISTEP — and how wrong that seems to him. This is a really dumb example about education for a couple of reasons — one being that you’re comparing apples to oranges. For one thing, the driving test is way more important, so the standards for it should be higher — it keeps people from killing me with their cars. And for another, the driving test is an accurate measure of people’s rote memorization of the driving rules they’ll be applying on the road. But the ISTEP isn’t in any way an accurate measure of what students have learned in school. Students learn way more than the ISTEP really measures, and part of the reason they’re “failing” the ISTEP is because it isn’t asking the right questions. ISTEP is a poor yardstick with which to measure education, so it doesn’t matter that the “passing level” is low. Comparing a test we need that helps keep us safe with a test that is irrelevant and needs to be thrown away is silly.

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