I thought it fitting for our last class blog to discuss… the blog.
I came across this article in The Atlantic that compiles columns that appeared over ten years ago in mainstream newspapers trying to explain blogs when they first started being introduced.
Much of the commentary focuses on the elaborate interlinking of blogs – as written in a New York Times article in 2000, “Web logs (blogs) are elaborately cross-linked, with Web loggers (bloggers) reading and commenting upon one another’s sites, creating a kind of fragmented conversation.” A network is born.
A piece from the LA Times (2002) notes, “the most popular bloggers build a sense of community by linking to each other and writing in a voice that cartwheels off the page, as a distinct alternative to what they see as the distant, establishment voice of newspaper journalists and others.” Even at the start the importance of the network was noted and the resulting rise of a global public sphere and networked public voice.
In The New York Times (2002) it was described as “an online news commentary written, usually, by an ordinary citizen, thick with links to articles and other blogs.” And, in The Wall Street Journal (2002) “thousands of independent information entrepreneurs are informing, arguing, adding information…. Blogs may one day become clearinghouses for civil support and information when other lines, under new pressure, break down.” The author Peggy Noonan recognized the power that blogging was giving the average citizen in giving them a voice – being able to share the news that they found most relevant, add their opinion, and become as such a sort of news editor for their followers, dramatically altering the news media landscape.
Sure, in the beginning blogs seemed to be viewed merely as personal diaries published online and most of the writers weren’t concerned, however there were a few that questioned what the implications of blogs would be for the future of news media.
(Sounds kind of familiar to early criticism of Twitter as an “epic waste of time” and then debate on, “The First Twitter Revolution?“)
Throughout our course we have often talked about the changing environment for communication and what that means. We have particularly focused, and especially in our last review session, on the diffusion of power as new means of communication provide more means for people to have more access to information and form new, powerful actors.
Going back to review the emergence of the “blog”, something that is so commonplace now in our gathering of information, reminds us of the shift we have gone through – in making news more accessible, empowering citizens either independently or as part of a network of non-state actors, subsequently shifting power away from nation-states and their media as the only sources of information. Power becomes diffuse because the source of information is diffuse. Now, the question is how these actors are going to function together or maybe, what we’ll come up with next.