The Chapter of Death, or, When that thing you’re writing turns to utter crap

I have a book chapter due in about two weeks time, it’s an expanded version of a paper I presented in Oxford in July last year. I’ve reached the point where I have stopped being convinced of my own thesis – which is pretty damning. The thrust of the original paper went something like this:

– The videogame blogging community is pretty rad

– The community seems to know stuff (it makes interesting blog posts and discussions)

– Therefore the community as an aggregate entity knows stuff (and for some epistemological reasons that’s interesting)

Easy, right? Except that I’ve grown disenchanted with the idea that the community knows stuff, as well as the idea of the community as an aggregate entity. It’s all kind of boring and banal, with all the things and potentials that excited or surprised me about it now seeming dull and mundane.

Okay fine, so I can’t just withdraw the piece from the anthology because I think my piece is stupid, gotta keep the publishing record up after all. So what’s my option? Go with the pat ‘there were no conclusions reached/further research needed’ option?

A journal article I discovered the other day might have a useful “out”, and I’ll excerpt the intro:

“The 2011 revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and neighbouring countries have brought blogging and other social and citizens’ media to the forefront of the public imagination. Major news corporations have interviewed bloggers and drawn heavily on Twitter and Facebook. Social media have been celebrated as creating or, at the very least, fuelling the revolutionary movements. On the other hand, ‘pre-revolutionary’ scholarship on blogs and other forms of online journalism, citizens’ media and user-generated content argued that they were unsuccessful because they did not appear on the radar of commercial media and/or have not themselves become big media, accessed by a large number of readers/users. For some observers this means that journalism 2.0 has not lived up to its promise (Rebillard and Touboul, 2010).

These two apparently opposing arguments draw on the same logic: media are considered political if, and only if, they have a major impact on political decision-makers and the public sphere. …The danger for media analysis is that we then forget about the political import of mundane, quotidian everyday practices: they no longer fit within the notion of politics.”

They then go on to position the German news-blogosphere (a considerably larger one than the CVG blogosophere) as political via Oliver Marchart’s who “has elaborated an extended definition of minimal politics, the minimal criteria required for an action to be considered political.” So that could be an out: do something with Marchart’s 6 criteria for minimal politics and say the CVG blogosphere meets the criteria (probably like: sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t).

The bits I have that do feel strong are about community formation, and how the CVGBlogosophere emerged and how to talk about community when it’s a techno-human community… but why would a chapter primarily about that end up in a book about videogames (and more to the point: in a section on identity and gameplay?? Unless I want to get all Clifford Geertz up in this piece and treat blogging as a “game” – also a. la Chris Bateman, but I have some problems with that book…)

So I don’t know.  I think I’ve about reached my limit for the day, and it’s time for some relaxing Starcraft instead.