A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Musical Bank Shot: Why the Internet is So Darned Cool

A lot of folks of my generation claim to be bewildered by the Internet, but I love it, having spent a career in earlier forms of publishing and communication and knowing improvement when I see it, and one reason has recently been driven home by a comment that makes me think I've just watched Minnesota Fats or some other great pool player do a bank shot that runs half the table. (Non-native-English speakers: something really cool happened.)

I know a lot of my readers don't regularly read the comments to the posts: this isn't the sort of blog where huge, intense debates go on in the comment threads, and a post that generates 10 comments is pretty good. But sometimes my commenters provide essential information that I didn't have.

And sometimes, the sheer networking of the Internet becomes apparent. Case in point: My Blizzard of '09 post over the weekend, with all the examples of Arab bagpipes (another post for which YouTube can claim a lot of the credit, another cool thing about Web 2.0), included a YouTube video of Moroccan bagpipes in a Moroccan group, a video which I noted was captioned in a language I did not know (but suggested might be Hungarian). In a comment to that post, one I. Warner said:
The Kobza Vajk Group does indeed have Hungarian subtitles - Szentendre is an adorable little town up the Duna (Danube) from Budapest. Being a piper in the US (with a friend in Saudi who reads your blog), I enjoyed all the videos.
Now let's look at the play-by-play here, or what a Muslim hadith scholar would call the isnad, or chain of authorities. I post a jeu d'esprit sort of thing about Arab bagpipes. One video is of a Moroccan bagpiper. I note the captions look maybe Hungarian. An American bagpiper who is familiar with the group knows the "adorable little town" in Hungary where they are based (though if his name is "Warner" he doesn't sound Hungarian). How did an American bagpiper find my blog? Via "a friend in Saudi who reads your blog."

Bank shot. Try that with a dead-tree newspaper.

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