Philobiblon: The power (and democracy) of the blog

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The power (and democracy) of the blog

From the Guardian:

Bloggers and internet pundits are exerting a "disproportionately large influence" on society, according to a report by a technology research company. Its study suggests that although "active" web users make up only a small proportion of Europe's online population, they are increasingly dominating public conversations and creating business trends.

The article goes on to say that half of European web-users are "passive", not contributing to content at all, while a quarter only respond when prompted. But of course if you turn those figures around the other way, it means one-quarter of web-users are now actively contributing to the media, and thus, the article argues, exercising an influence on society - which compares to the old days or old media, when a tiny fraction of a percentage point were contributing. That's a pretty substantial democratic leap.

A nice companion piece to this: an interview with Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing, with a short list of its "coups".

2 Comments:

Anonymous dware said...

A nice parallel to the report on blogging's muscle comes from yesterday's (April 18) New York Times, in an essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg. I've pasted in a selection; who would have thought that one could associate blogging and Hilaire Belloc? It's a short piece, worth checking out, and not restricted by the silly "Times Select" sigil.
_______________
The Future of Journalism as Told by Hilaire Belloc in 1918
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG

. . .There are whole paragraphs in Belloc's essay where, if you substitute "blogs" for "the Free Press," you will be struck by the parallels. He notes that the journals of the free press seldom pay their way and that they often suffer from the impediment of "imperfect information," simply because it is not in the politicians' interests to speak to them. They tend to preach to the converted. And they are limited by the founder's vision. "It is difficult," Belloc writes, "to see how any of the papers I have named would long survive a loss of their present editorship."

Belloc's point is not to expose the limitations of bloggers — excuse me, the Free Press. It is to show how, imperfect as they are, they can contribute enormously to our ability to learn what's going on. Anyone who spends much time reading political blogs will hear a familiar note — in far greater prose — among Belloc's certainties. He writes, in short, as a blogger of his own time.

4/19/2006 10:53:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Still some way to go.

The next generation tech products now being designed will move the mechanisms of content dissemination on much further, well beyond the blog as we know it.

China can censor surfing. It can censor access to, and the writing of blogs. It can censor the search engine. It won't be able to do a damn thing about what's coming next.

Oh brave new world.

4/19/2006 11:50:00 pm  

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