Monday, February 21, 2005

Building a straw blogger 

In an otherwise sympathetic profile of blogdom, William Powers of the "National Journal" observes that "we're having a Dutch tulip moment with the bloggers. This, too, shall pass." Powers is of course referring to the infamous 17th century speculative bubble that has since become a byword for irrational overvaluation, something that Powers feels is being done to blogs. After identifying the blogosphere's strengths
("Bloggers are a fantastic addition to the media club, but I don't see them taking it over. So far they've proven adept at several tasks: 1) bird-dogging factual errors and other crimes that the mainstreamers are ignoring; 2) speaking in a chatty, irreverent voice that's refreshing after decades of stilted establishment formality; and 3) having fun -- a skill the mainstreamers lost long ago.")
and weaknesses
("What independent bloggers don't have is the resources or, in most cases, the skills to do the heavy journalistic lifting that the big American outlets still do better than anyone, and will continue to do for a very long time.")
Powers offers his forecast: "Not so long ago, it seemed a bunch of silicon geniuses were truly reinventing the economy. Farewell, General Motors and Exxon. The future was going to be all about sexy New Economy companies with names like Razorfish. It didn't work out that way. Consumers didn't stop needing the products that the old stalwarts made and sold -- basic stuff like cars, plywood, and breakfast cereal. Similarly, media consumers are not about to abandon their desire for solid, middle-of-the-road news from the old, largely trustworthy, still impressive establishment outlets."

Which is all nice and well and sensible, because no one is actually suggesting that the mainstream media will be replaced by blogs in a foreseeable future - any more than gossip was replaced by newspapers, newspapers by radio, radio by television, and television by the internet. The beautiful thing about progress - particularly technological progress - is that the pie keeps growing and we are all becoming richer; in this case information richer, with more options, greater variety and greater choices. Or as Decision '08 writes in his long post on the impact of blogs, "the true beneficiary of the somewhat contrived Texas Death Match between the upstart blogs and the established media titans is the consumer."

I don't know how blogs will evolve in the future, although with the internet becoming more and more pervasive and accessible I see no reason why the top bloggers will not continue to become increasingly influential like their syndicated columnist and radio and TV host colleagues. Powers is right that at the moment bloggers lack resources available to the mainstream media, but they have one advantage over the rather rigid old media structures: the informal network of other bloggers and readers which can provide instantaneous expertise and feedback, and will increasingly supply amateur correspondents on the ground in every corner of the globe.

One day, maybe, the dinosaurs will become extinct and little mammals will rule the Earth. But for now, however, we're all happy being just one - small - piece of the media kaleidoscope.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?