23 March 2008

How to Ruin Your Group Blog

... in two easy steps!

Step 1: Allow a single contributer to dominate the blog.

Step 2: Allow that single contributer to post irrational, factually-challenged posts.

That's pretty much what's happening at Xark!. Xark's visits have dropped significantly, as can be seen by their sitemeter chart.

Xark Visits

Xark lists 13 authors in the About section of the blog. When I visited the main page today, I found that 24 of 25 posts, covering a period from 7-23 March, belonged to a single author. I don't know why the other authors have stopped contributing to Xark, but it's hurting the blog.

When Xark was conceived, Dan Conover described in excruciating detail the goals of the blog and what constituted "xarking" in a manifesto and FAQ. Instead of what was conceived, Xark has become a reflection of a single person's political and social orthodoxy ... which would be fine with me as a reader if Xark was a single author blog intended as the cathartic release for a single author.

I trace Xark's downward trend, for me anyway, to a remixed WWII poster. The original poster, called Don't let that shadow touch them. Buy war bonds. by Lawrence Beall Smith in 1942, can be found online at the Northwestern University and New Hampshire State Libraries. This poster was used at Xark, without attribution for the original artist or a citation/link to the original source, for a different purpose. Essentially, if you lack artistic talent but have a burning desire to compare fellow Americans to Nazis, you find a WWII poster with a Nazi symbol and change the words. "Remixing art" has also been a profitable tactic for such towering luminaries as Shepard Fairey and Micah Wright.

What motivated me to finally write this post is seeing Steve Wilson and Jane Akre used to provide "context on the M.O. of Rupert Murdock's corporate news philosophy" and a paranoid plea to counter the Fox-Ailes-Rove conspiracy.

Steve Wilson and Jane Akre have a webpage you can visit, although it hasn't been updated since 2005. Their chief critic has been John Sugg whose most recent articles are The Strange Case of Steve Wilson: How a fraudulent crusader snookered the left-and is threatening the First Amendment (2006) and WTVT wins final round in fight with reporters (2007). After years of Wilson and Akre "milking" the controversy, the science has not borne out their reporting, but you can still find rBST/rBGH FUD alive and well on the Internet.

Of course, none of this "context" is available at Xark.

The other irony is a link to Into the Buzzsaw, which is a recounting of "18 Tales" "mostly by serious journalists excommunicated from the media establishment for tackling subjects like the CIA's role in drug smuggling, lies perpetuated by the investigators of TWA flight 800, POWs rotting in Vietnam, a Korean war massacre, the disenfranchisement of black voters in Bush's election, bovine growth hormone's dangers and a host of other unpopular issues." These tales implicate "CBS News, CNN, The AP, The BBC and The San Jose Mercury News." What was the point of providing the Wilson-Akre/Buzzsaw link? Oh yes, the Murdoch-Ailes-Rove-Fox News conspiracy.

As of today, I'm no longer a visitor or reader of Xark!, either.

Wilson, Akre's FCC challenge dismissed

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