CAIRO: Like good sushi, good blogs are essentially raw, fresh and spicy. Bad blogs, on the other hand, like bad sushi, can quickly upset your stomach.
For the few who are unfamiliar with the term “blog, it is a derivative of the earlier term “web log, which means online journal entry and is a phenomenon madepopular in recent years by the oppressed youth of the world.
Blogs are a force to be reckoned with and, despite any reservations one may have, it must be said that blogs are a fruitful addition to the doctrine of free expression.
While freedom of expression is sacred, one takes exception to a few local blogs, not because they have gone too far in terms of boldness (there is no such thing), but in terms of silliness and futility. They are simply ramblings that are best kept in a notebook under a bed, not shared with the world.
I realize there are no rules to which bloggers should adhere and I make no foolish attempt to impose any, but in my humble opinion as a reader, a good blog is one which masterfully expresses a whole set of thoughts and emotions within an independently set theme.
In that respect, the following is a brief critique of selected Egyptian blogs, based on the aforementioned “rules for good and bad blogs.
Manal and Alaa (www.manalaa.net), a poor blog site, is surprisingly recommended by what are arguably much better bloggers. Manal and Alaa is at best, a jolly personal Web site. But as blogs go, it is self-important, self-indulgent and incoherent. It claims to be a voice for Egyptian rebels and to have some affiliation with activist causes but all that can be seen are disguised personal vanity photos.
Gayyash Al ‘Aatifa (gayyash.blogspot.com) is not self-important, but is extremely incoherent. When an occasionally good blog such as this betrays whatever commitment readers have made to it by posting as an entry a morbid close-up photo of a human nose, followed later by two consecutive entries that are essentially two close-ups of a cat’s nose (different angles), then the reader must check this blog no more.
Another bad, supposedly politically driven, Egyptian blog is Al Fares Al Akheer or The Last Knight (alfares2005.blogspot.com). The name says it all. It talks about everything wrong with Egypt’s socio-political psyche but really adds nothing.
On the top of my list of favorites is Baheyya: Egypt Analysis and Whimsy (baheyya.blogspot.com), a weekly dispatch from cyberspace about the innerworkings of Egyptian politics. This beautifully written blog tells you not what you want to know, but rather what you ought to know.
A less serious but no less eloquent blog is African Doctor (africano.blogspot.com). It is, for all intents and purposes, a personal diary of someone with observations and convictions. It is not pretentious and does not struggle to be more important or more humorous than its writer.
Somewhere in between the piercing writings of Baheyya and the more free spirited expressions of African Doctor are Beyond Normal (beyondnormal.blogspot.com) and The Arabist Network (www.arabist.net), two inspiring Egyptian-based blogs to say the least.
It is difficult to decide what constitutes a good diary. It’s a dream that blogosphere can be collectively used to create a viable media channel through which people can make a contribution. In the same way that blogs were self-created and are now self-written, they should be self-governed by the writers and readers so that all blogs are impressive and meaningful and not just a space in which some can vent out their boredom and lack of creativity.