At risk of oversimplification, let's say there are two broad approaches to blogging: you can write for yourself, or you can write for other people. Put another way, one might view blogging as a solipsistic activity, or else as an ongoing dialectic within a community of inquirers.
I mostly write for myself. Putting my thoughts into words can help clarify them, and my archives serve as a wonderful external "memory bank" of past ideas and arguments. Of course, it's certainly nice when other people respond positively, and discussions in comment threads can be both valuable and fun. But I started this with no readers, and no expectations for more, so that certainly isn't my primary purpose.
So, in practice, I'm mostly a blogging solipsist. But I do (perhaps not so secretly) harbour some dialogistic ideals. I write occasional responses to others' posts, offering counterarguments and so forth -- which is at least the first step towards dialogue. And one of the original motivations behind the Kiwi Carnival was to promote reasoned dialogue between blogs and even across party lines. The hope was that bloggers would respond to challenging arguments they found in the carnival. But, sadly, this never eventuated. For example, I've tried to submit carefully reasoned posts on relevant political issues, but they don't get any response. More generally, there's scant evidence to suggest that the NZ political blogosphere in general has any interest in reasoned debate, as opposed to "point and express outrage"-type posts reacting along predictable partisan lines to the latest political scandal.
That's not to say there are no well-reasoned posts out there. There are. But they tend to get lost in the noise. So we don't get the sort of ongoing dialogue that I think could be really valuable. Instead, we merely have isolated bubbles of reflection. Involuntary solipsism, perhaps. Ideally, the Kiwi Carnival would provide 'scaffolding' to encourage reasoned political debate in the NZ blogging community. It could highlight those bubbles of reason, bring them into contact with each other, and stimulate further discussion. That's the ideal, anyway. Of course, it hasn't happened yet. Perhaps it's an unrealistic goal, I'm not sure.
Or perhaps carnivals just don't provide the right sort of structure for this purpose. Maybe we instead need a more specifically targeted form of 'scaffolding'. Say, a page to keep track of particular debates, with links to specific arguments - and counterarguments - under each heading. That way, anyone interested in, say, the S59 "anti-smacking" bill, or the recent blog debates over substantive freedom, etc. etc., could find all the relevant blog posts and arguments from across the blogosphere, at a glance.
Say, I really like this idea! I'm not quite sure how to implement it though. Any suggestions are most welcome. Perhaps some form of 'wiki', so anyone can edit it and add their own arguments to the list, with a minimum of hassle. Though we'd need to protect against vandalism somehow. Any other ideas? (And does anyone else like this one?)