Friday, September 12, 2008

Maputo, Yourputo and Biting the Big Salchicha (Part III)

Naturally, many bloggers link with writers they like. One survey of 1,400 blogs showed that 91 percent were linked to like-minded sites, according to Cass Sunstein, author of the book Republic 2.0.

Sunstein, an informal advisor to Barack Obama, is an interesting guy. A dog lover, too. And during Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings, he refused to appear on Greta Van Susteren's CNN program unless he could bring his pet Rhodesian Ridgeback named Perry.

Van Susteren agreed.

In August, I heard Sunstein speak at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference in Chicago. He told a crowd of professors that unprecedented access to information gives us more ways to avoid information we don’t like. So some of us stop reading and studying the views of people who disagree with us. And Sunstein says research shows that our views grow more extreme. The right goes further right and the left goes further left. We wind up screaming at each other. We stop listening, says Sunstein, a prolific author who also wrote the book, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge.

Extremists on the Left treat everyone else like idiots, Sunstein said. Fans of Rush Limbaugh take pride in being “dittoheads.” Conservatives gather around FoxNews.

“What gets lost in these polarized times are traditional civil values like civility, self-criticism and open-mindedness,” Sunstein wrote.

Well, not everyone is open-minded when it comes to Cuba. Not everyone is civil. Not everyone is tolerant. Bloggers compete with each other to see who can deliver the sharpest insults.

But I don’t think anyone has a monopoly on wisdom when it comes to Cuba or anything else.

I started Along the Malecon as an experiment. I have no idea how it will evolve. But for now, my goal is simple: To post original photos and stories from Cuba.

It’s not a breaking news blog, although sometimes I’ll post news.

I'll continue posting photos of everything from carnival girls to the guy with a zillion holes poked in his face to the picture above of a clever woman who figured out that this broken phone in Havana actually worked - as long as you spoke directly into the earpiece.

I'll try to address any comments and questions. Pardon me if I miss some of them (the day job has just got to go). And I'm sure I'll continue to tick off those on the right and the left without even trying.

I'm wrapping up now, so you may now wake up from your comatose state. And thanks for visiting Along the Malecon, especially you out there in Maputo. You know, Maputo, Mozambique, the heart of my fan base.

P.S. Some detractors have also called me an "ass licker." I must say that while I have many charming vices, ass licking is not on the list. Yet.

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