At present there is a slanderous attack underway over at a certain blog (we won’t link directly to it for obvious reasons, rather, Galrahn has assembled a good summary and parry over here). We call it slanderous because it is an attack, by name, on a current CO in an operational billet was undertaken with a vehemence and purpose that is unclear as to origin and rationale – unless it is just to gain attention; condemnant quod non intellegunt? This, and perhaps more importantly, the ongoing discussion at The Castle re. l’affaire Kaboom () surface a topic worth pondering – i.e., blogging in general and milblogs in particular. We have been asked on more than one occasion why we take the effort (e.g., SWMBO – “and you’re not getting paid for it…?!”) and why in a field wherein potential traps and mines lay aplenty.
So – why take the risk?
It’s about contributing, in a meaningful way, to “the dialogue” and perhaps having an opportunity to effect change – real change – to an issue or condition that one holds near and dear. When the new Maritime Strategy came out last fall, there was a very thoughtful, passionate discussion that took place in the blogsphere with the insight typically accorded to the dead tree press and academia, but with immediacy they lack. Said discussion brought in the Navy’s team lead on the topic who provided an altogether too rare POV from Big Navy in the rationale and development of the MS that further influenced the debate. The how and why this rather extraordinary matter came to be lay in the tone of debate, centered as it was on the principled discussion and disagreement on items within the MS – not unprincipled and unseemly ad hominem attacks on the author or team that drafted the MS. We would like to think that climate is what led to the even more extraordinary blogger’s panel hosted by OSD with the current N3/5, VADM Morgan, who took the opportunity to talk to several milbloggers, of which YHS was but one participant. It was a very good give and take session with all participants, including VADM Morgan, taking away ideas for further pondering.
To be sure, these are new waters Navy, and DOD, are navigating as many of the old paradigms that held for the traditional media do not apply with the new media. The blogsphere is indeed noisy, pushy, raucous and in some areas, decidedly profane. Not unlike The Mall when several protest groups converge on a muggy summer afternoon. That, however, does not mean that one must adopt those same methods, if, that is, one’s intent is to contribute. If one merely intends to throw rocks through (virtual) windows, then there is little to stop that from occurring. And you may get your 15 minutes that way, if it so pleases you. But a few months down the road, when the self-induced cheers in your ears recedes and you survey the dismal status of your domain, ask yourself – did I make a difference? Of course, for the hopelessly deluded/narcissist, there is little hope or chance of rational self-examination. In which case, the self-policing nature of the blogsphere will have taken hold, your virtual reputation well cemented in place.
It is possible to be passionately dispassionate about an idea, a policy – a mission. Over the course of our former journeys on active duty, we had several different fora to practice this concept, be it as a junior branch officer before a reluctant department head, a CO to a skeptical commodore even as an action officer to the most senior leadership in the Service. One can be passionate (indeed, it is a must) without foaming at the mouth or playing the role of self-appointed anarchist.
Our motivation lies in a couple of areas – emphasize our Service’s heritage (and we call it “our” because even in retirement, we still consider ourselves part of the bigger Service) and inform/influence the debate discussion on such critical matters as formulation of national and military strategy – the latter of which was something we carried over from our last decade or so on active duty. Such interest drives the tenor and tone of the postings here, not the desire to drive up the hit count. We hope that has inclined and developed a certain readership and feedback to date (informal and formal) is tending to support that thesis.
Because after all, it is the thought that counts.