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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More Blogging on Blogging 

Over the last 3 days, I've read a number of articles in the commercial media on the 'phenomenal' influence of blogs this year. I've gotten the strong sense that, when people in commercial media say "blog", they're actually saying, "An Unexpected Goldmine of Ideas and Developments Delivered Directly from the Hoi Polloi", rather than the more tactful definitions for "blog" that they routinely provide their technophobic readers.

After reading several commercial media references to the blogosphere's "echo chamber effect" (which is a popular topic among bloggers as well, e.g., Kevin Werbach, David Weinberger, Joi Ito), I went searching for perspectives contrary to mine. Using Technorati's blog-search engine, I used the keywords tsunami and catastrophe to see what others are thinking about The Big Story. In this eye-opening random tour, I read:
  • an assertion that an effort to rescue tsunami-dazed dolphins demonstrates the Wildlife Friends of Thailand's poor priorities*

  • a lament from various right-wingers that the US should not provide aid to any country that harbors people wearing t-shirts bearing Osama Bin Laden's image*

  • a comment from an Australian in SE Asia who mentions in an aside that everyone in the region noticed how much longer it took American forces to arrive *

  • complaints that westerners need a "a blond haired, blue eyed kid to bring home the death of tens of thousands of brown babies"*

I also found a tiny bit of what might be evidence of the "self-healing" aspect of blogs (as mentioned in commercial media articles) from updated posts like Corey Koberg's, warning that all the scary images bandied about on blogs, including his before someone set him straight, may not actually be images from The Super Tsunami.

All in all, I'm not sure what to think now, except that, while I love the Unexpected Goldmine of Ideas and Developments Delivered Directly from the Hoi Polloi, I still want to read the commercial media – as long as they're not seduced by the immediacy of blogs, but strive to deliver well-sleuthed and professionally edited journalism.

While I was writing the entry above, I was reminded of an article I'd read in the Smithsonian magazine during my wait for a doctor yesterday. I couldn't remember which issue I was reading, but, thanks to a quick and helpful response from Carolyn McGhee of Smithsonian Reader Services, I've found the article on their thorough website. See "All the News That's Fit to Sing" from the October 2004 issue for an interesting history of journalism and the early reliance on rumors and gossip – seems bloggers have established a new globalized "Tree of Cracow".


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