Aaron Barlow in his post Let Me Put That In Context, on TPM Cafe, observes:
Perhaps one of the side benefits of the blogs will be the re-emergence of the public intellectual. Such people, usually specialists in one field but writing much more generally, once provided a great deal of the context for public debate.
The sort of people he’s talking about are not the ‘experts’ rounded up by television programs for a 15 second grab on matters of current importance. He’s talking about heavyweight intellectuals in various disciplines discoursing on a range of cultural or political or social issues which may not, and often are not, within their specific professional or academic ‘discipline’. People like Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, John Dewey and B.F.Skinner.
He points out that if intellectuals are willing to learn more about communicating in the public sphere, blogs give them an excellent way to develop and hone their skills and build an audience.
I believe he is right and I hope the intellectuals won’t be put off this sort of approach by reading too much about what bloggers and blogging consultants like me tend to tell people about the ideal length of a blog post.
Darren Rowse says (and this fits with the impression I have of ‘what people say’) that “the general opinion seems to be that a page of at least 250 words are probably a reasonable length. Similarly, many advise keeping pages under 1000 words.”
Not much scope there, surely, for an intellectual to stretch her or his wings? I know, brevity is the soul of wit, and all that, but sometimes extra space is needed to tease out an idea or three.
We may need some new guidelines and I suspect they will come best from the intellectuals themselves.