Monday, January 02, 2006

The Blogosphere - Echo Chamber Or Incubator?

The blogosphere has expanded beyond the human noosphere. Like all art, it encompasses the real, the surreal and the unreal. This creates some challenges for it's denizens and those who believe themselves apart.

Dilip D'Souza speculates on how the Watergate story might have transpired in the current time, with blogs, google, et al:

We do things differently now. The first thing we did was, we Googled "Watergate", and guess what? It didn't give us anything much. But we're fixing that fast. What we're doing is, we're mentioning "Republican" and "Watergate" and "bugging" on our blogs, and we're telling every other blogger we know to do the same, then we'll all link to each other's blogs like crazy. Pretty soon, when somebody Googles for Watergate, wham! The first hits they'll get will be ours, and they'll know that the Republicans bugged the place.


He misses the likelihood of the source being traced down and exposed as coming from a fax machine in Middletown, Ohio, with a trail back to the Rove King.

In another column that was widely syndicated and panned, Kathleen Parker recently opined that the blogosphere was best ignored. She noted,
Bloggers persist no matter their contributions or quality, though most would have little to occupy their time were the mainstream media to disappear tomorrow. Some bloggers do their own reporting, but most rely on mainstream reporters to do the heavy lifting. Some bloggers also offer superb commentary, but most babble, buzz and blurt like caffeinated adolescents competing for the Ritalin generation's inevitable senior superlative: Most Obsessive-Compulsive


In another trenchant comment, she noted,
Each time I wander into blogdom, I'm reminded of the savage children stranded on an island in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies." Without adult supervision, they organize themselves into rival tribes, learn to hunt and kill, and eventually become murderous barbarians in the absence of a civilizing structure.


Her sense of historicity should tell her that all human endeavors pass through similar phases of organization - beginning with chaos, then self-determined order, followed by centralization and again, dispersion. The blogosphere has proved remarkably adept at allowing numerous models to co-exist, from the rigid media-controlled blogs and *.cn to the anarchy and community of Xanga, MySpace and digg.com

What the blogosphere has indubitably provided is a channel for the reader to be a writer, nowhere more so than in wiki-style writing, like Wikipedia This might not be a good thing for the establishment, and antidisestablishmentarianists like Kathleen, but for most people, this is manna from communication heaven. The Signal to Noise ratio is decidedly skewed, but one posits no more so that other channels like tabloids, fine art, and television.

The real damning slur against the blogosphere is the low levels of originality generally available. Whether it is the political spectrum or Pretty Ricky, there's not much there that cannot be intuited with a little thought. All the same, many fine ideas and world-changing events have incubated in the blogosphere, and the tide is hopefully turning against big media and their conformist communication rhetoric.

One hopes.

Note: I used Dilip's comments in an earlier post.

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