Dissent Of The Day II

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

I appreciate your dedication to the incredible developments in Egypt. It's truly a wonderful thing when people demand their own government and (hopefully) obtain it through the least violent means possible.

However, one of the main reasons I love your blog is for its variety in coverage; I can visit your blog once an hour and receive interesting tidbits on all sorts of topics, stimulate my mind, then get back to work. But ever since this revolution business started in Egypt (and prior to that, Tunisia), you're covering almost nothing else. I'm glad for some coverage, but really wish the minute-by-minute blow-by-blow would be stopped, so we can get some other interesting news and commentary in. I know you're doing some coverage of other items, but your Egypt coverage is very ... intense.

Judging from the in-tray, this is a minority view. There have been countless e-mails thanking us for keeping the focus on Egypt. We are trying to strike the right balance - to not miss anything from Egypt while keeping an eye on other issues. But Egypt, like Iran before it, will continue to dominate for the immediate future.

The news media has a herd mentality. The MSM is often criticized for neglecting important stories until they break. But when a story makes it to the middle of the news hole, the media can dig up a huge amount of good information. And it's not just the MSM; most of the bloggers I track are writing about little besides Egypt. Even if we wanted to, it would be difficult to maintain our normal variety.

These moments in the news cycle are fleeting opportunities not to be missed; events like this force most of us to pay heed to topics, ideas, and experts we'd likely otherwise overlook. Some subjects make it into the media spotlight repeatedly (see: Palin, Sarah), but Egypt hasn't been the center of attention for years. Obsessively tracking developments now not only provides current information on an event with potentially large effects on international peace, it lets us debate one of the most fundamental questions in politics - how and why a country transitions, or fails to transition, from one form of government to another and what that means.

A reader e-mail from over the weekend provides another perspective:

I recently found employment after a 6 month dry spell. While I'm happy to be working again, I find my reading time significantly reduced. The result is a Saturday reading binge where I catch up on the 1500+ posts I missed during the week. Using my RSS reader has given me the significant ability to read the posts sorted by oldest date first.

I have had the chance, through your blog, to follow the events in Egypt in real time but several days (hours now, I'm almost caught up) delayed. Rather than figure out the current situation and go backward, I can experience what you and others have experienced as the events unfolded. I think this kind of understanding is essential to having a detailed picture and avoiding the 20/20 vision hindsight often provides. 

I don't know how many of your readers use RSS in its many forms but I highly recommend it. It was originally a convenient way to put my reading in one place. Now I see another advantage: RSS can provide a short term historical narrative presented in the real-time thoughts and links of bloggers.