Bloggo #1: I debate, therefore I am!

Why starting such a blog?

For many reasons that can be summed up in the following statement: I debate, therefore I am! And as I am, I’d like it to be with my own domain name!

Indeed, I love debating and exchanging ideas with people holding a different, if not a completely opposite world view. Thus, the Web is therefore a heaven for me….or, at least, it should be! Since I’ve been active on it, that is, since 1996, I’ve often had the feeling as if I was rather stuck in the hell of verbal fist fight and dialogs of the deaf. More specifically, I noticed that, for the last 10 years or so, the flag of « political incorrectness » is regularly being raised high and far, most of the time as a way to counter in advance any opposition to statements that are generally merely erroneous.

Some people even make a profession of it, bursting onto the scene shouting from the rooftops that what they are about to say will obviously shock everyone there, because it is « politically incorrect ». Usually, this booming announcement comes with pretty boring laments about « conformism » and « orthodoxy » which are supposedly dominating all the media and public debates. This almost systematically ends up nipping in the bud any possibility of contradictory, but courteous and constructive, dialogs, the conversation degenerating instead into verbal riots. Of course, these self-proclaimed sworn opponents to « conformism » then accuse their opponents of trying to silence them after having caused a brawl!

It thus appears that the massive diffusion of new information and communication technologies allowing for a wider public expression hasn’t really created a real space for debate. Instead, too many people conflate debate with controversy and think of it as a box ring, where all there is to do is verbally knock-out their opponent. Thus, they get on it with the sole aim to defend their right to have their own opinion, no matter how ludicrous it might appear to the opposing camp, not to exchange arguments about a specific topics. Well, debates is indeed an intellectual martial art, but not wholesale personal slaughter. It is about confronting contradictory ideas in order to see which ones last longer under a rational and collective examination, not killing them on the onset.

On this blog, I hope to contribute in spreading the culture of debate, by trying to make it a sort of cross-road between my contacts on various social network and other blogs or websites of all kinds. I don’t have the intention of systematically launching new debates, but rather to participate in preexisting ones by offering cross-cutting perspectives and analyses. My posts will be of variable lengths, depending on the type of text and subject, but I’ll try to develop a style of writing as light as possible, while attempting to combine the demands from academic writing and journalistic format.

I believe that one of the means to promote this debate culture is, as a first step, to try to understand why we have so much difficulties debating without escalating in personal attacks. I thus intend to analyze the way this notion of « political (in)correctness » is used in controversies covering a certain number of political and social topics and for what it can show us of our capacity to accept dissent and contradiction.

I also would like to address a neighboring topic, which is the wildly appeal to science in controversies over subject that are, at least partially, concerning scientific issues. Indeed, I have noticed that calling up the scientific authority is a bit too much used to silence the opposing party.

Besides, I also wish to carry on an activity I had started on my other blog, hosted by WordPress: debunking attempt at disinformation and re-information, which I consider to be two sides of the same coin, propaganda. Indeed, the spreading of unfounded rumors and false or strongly biased information and prejudices is another practice that make it extremely difficult to have a constructive debate. Besides, I have decided to transfer some of the posts from that previous blog here. This is why there are already a good deals of posts preceding this one. I’m also going to copy the pages related to my dissertation published previously on WordPress.com.

Finally, since I remain a bespectacled egghead, who has used up her jeans on the university bench for years, I will continue to relay news from the academia and especially from disciplines I have studied over the years, that is, media studies, and more specifically, the evolution of audiovisual entertainment industries.

This blog is therefore a sort of intellectual and social experimental lab. It is a mean for me to dig up my little space on the Web and build my digital home sweet home. It will obviously change as time goes and usages of the Web evolve, along its told and untold rules.

I don’t know what will come out of this new experience, but I look forwards to moving on a bit further into this online maze and to discovering new ideas as well as practices around a corner of the world wide web!

Ariane Beldi

Assise à la fois sur un banc universitaire et sur une chaise de bureau, une position pas toujours très confortable, ma vie peut se résumer à un fil rouge: essayer de faire sens de ce monde, souvent dans un gros éclat de rire (mais parfois aussi dans les larmes) et de partager cette recherche avec les autres. Cela m'a ainsi amené à étudier aussi bien les sciences que les sciences sociales, notamment les sciences de l'information, des médias et de la communication, tout en accumulant de l'expérience dans le domaine de l'édition-rédaction Web et des relations publiques. Adorant discuter et débattres avec toutes personnes prêtes à échanger des points de vue contradictoires, j'ai découvert quelques recettes importantes pour ne pas m'emmêler complètement les baguettes: garder une certaine distance critique, éviter les excès dans les jugements et surtout, surtout, s'astreindre à essayer de découvrir le petit truc absurde ou illogique qui peut donner lieu à une bonne blague! Je reconnais que je ne suis pas toujours très douée pour cet exercice, mais je m'entraîne dur….parfois au grand dame de mon entourage direct qui n'hésite pas à me proposer de faire des petites pauses! Je les prend d'ailleurs volontiers, parce qu'essayer d'être drôle peut être aussi éreintant que de réaliser une thèse de doctorat (oui, j'en ai fait une, incidemment, en science de l'information et de la communication). Mais, c'est aussi cela qui m'a permis d'y survivre! Après être sortie du labyrinthe académique, me voici plongée à nouveau dans celui de la recherche d'un travail! Heureusement que je m'appelle Ariane!

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