Debating Debate

I think Jon Chait’s response to my criticisms of the idea of an in-house critics blog is almost self-refuting. I mean here’s Chait, at his blog at TNR, dialoguing with me at my blog at CAPAF interacting away. And we do it all the time!

But more to the point, I think it reveals old-media non-digital thinking at play. He says the value of having the blogs in-house is “to address a problem of ideological cloistering on the web.” But it only addresses the problem by means of pretending that the portion of the web that occurs on the www.tnr.com domain is actually a magazine. In print what matters is circles of writers whose words come on pieces of paper that are stapled together and put in the mail simultaneously. Online what matters is circles of writers who respect each other’s work enough to link to one another. My “in house” critics are people like Reihan Salam and Glenn Greenwald and Tyler Cowen and Jonathan Chait who I read and link to and vice versa.

At any rate, I don’t want to overly belabor the point here. Michael Kazin and Jim Manzi are both good writers and having them write blog posts for TNR seems like a perfectly reasonable idea. But the conceit is odd and a bit limiting.