Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Is blogging really an information revolution? Is it about to drive the mainstream news media into oblivion? Or is it just another crock of virtual gold - a meretricious equivalent of all those noisy internet start-ups that were going to build a brave "new economy" a few years ago?

Trevor Butterworth talks to some of the biggest names in blogging and hears some surprising answers. Read the full story at www.ft.com/blogging


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the article

Fri Feb 17, 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger joseph mailander said...

Beyond the fact that talking to the most overmarketed bloggers is not quite the same as talking to the "top" ones---beyond that---are you out of your effing mind? Never mind the added irony that I encountered your article from a blog link...I never read FT unless someone links to it...

As a guy who straddles blogging and print, I have to say that blogging has only promoted me exponentially. Should, say, the NYT or CNN quote me, it's as a blogger---in 25 years of scribbling, I never once got such notice as a freelancer.

Beyond that, if you're thinking of blogging as business unto itself, you're already ten leagues behind. We have seven writers and a dozen of contributors at Martini Republic---not one of them receives a dime---yet literally hundreds of print and broadcast journalists and political operatives of every stripe read their every word, daily.

A blog is not optimal as a standalone business entity. It is optimal as connective tissue between institutions, businesses, governments, professors, students, nomads---and as such, it's important to all who aspire to stay in touch. Where else can you get the FT, the NYT, the WashPo all under the same roof? You really miss the point of it all: it's all about interactivity, and shortcuts to getting to what you want to read.

You need a factchecker yourself...you really blew this one.

Fri Feb 17, 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my piece Joseph -and yes, there is a certain irony in me replying toyou for a piece arguing against the significance ofblogging on the FT Mag's debut blog. Here are some of my immediate thoughts on what youwrote. I'm guessing you saw the link to this pieceposted on Romenesko. But Jim has been doing this since1998. And the Internet was aggregating virtual contentlong before the so-called blogging revolution. Journalists were also communicating with each other onlist servs or through e-mail news letters long before"blogging" became a descriptive term too: Look at ShopTalk or the Columbia Journalism New Media list, towhich I've been a subscriber since 1998.I don't doubt for a moment that "blogging has promoted[you] exponentially;" it has promoted me too; butwe're journalists. We're not John Smiths/Jane Doesblogging truth to power from a virtual wilderness.And that's a point that I think comes across in thepiece - blogging is being absorbed by traditionalmedia. It adds a twist to what was already going on -but really, not THAT much more.Best -Trevor

Fri Feb 17, 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Jon Garfunkel said...

Brilliant. It's much in the spirit of The New Gatekeepers series -- not a blog, not a literary masterpiece, but a series of observations I made about the people driving the revolution, their values, and why the blogosphere is the way it is. Hope it's of interest to you and your readers.

The sequel pieces are due out this Monday.

Fri Feb 17, 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Tutatis said...

Trevor, the article is superb. It explains things wonderfully but I guess that it has to do with the fact that I basically agree with most of what you say.
The only problem I se is that the article jumps from the US (a world of its own in blogland) to Iran, Syria, China. What about the rest, the countries in the middle?
I think one of the most amazing things came some months ago when Frenchman Loic Lemeur (he blogs in English and French) ran a podcast interview with French presidential wannabe Nikolas Sarkozy on his blog. But Lemeur is not blogger doing journalism. He is an IT entrepreneur who blogs, period.
In Argentina we don't have US-style hype around blogs. There are only two out standing bloggers with media kind topics, and both are journalists.
One of them is the editor of Argentina's main current affairs magazine but he blogs outside the magazine. He gives a good a could summary of why he believes journalists should blog. According to him it’s an excellent way to showcase yourself, it helps contact and meet other journalists and it gives you certain rhythm of work. Your blog, he argues, works as a good notebook (the blog is at blocdeperiodista.com, it's in Spanish).
The other leading journo blog, www.eblog.com.ar, blogs about things he cannot, for different reasons (space, topics, etc) run through his different jobs and he basically ends up doing what the bloc suggests: has a journalist's notebook. And I think that these to guys' trends aim at what blogging+journalism mounts up to: places for journalists to form a space of their own, feed their own vanity and keep their engines going.
The only thing in which I believe blogging rocks the big media's boat is in that it keeps an eye on the media by highlighting flaws and stressing weak points, a fact that may help the media be a bit better.

Fri Feb 17, 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger Snarksmithy said...

An enviable piece, and I thought it was rather clever of you to poll on whether Marx and Orwell would have resorted to blogging had they been given the chance... I'd say no on both counts. The interminable mouse clicking would have gone over at the British Museum about as well as the 12-hour distraction from reading would have done in Marx's historical consciousness. And Orwell too much relied on a first-hand engagement with events, and a reasoned impressionism of them, which for bloggers runs the gamut from what their adorable puppy spat up this morning to how badly the NY Times fucked up this hour. Who are the exceptions here? Michael Totten and maybe a handful of others who become field-investigative or correspondent bloggers?

I'd say that the Internet in itself, as an on-demand resource for writers, has changed the still very entrenched trade of print (or even digital) journalism immeasurably, especially with services like Lexis-Nexis and the Amazon book search engine (making plagiarism even more easy to detect and the savor of media scandal that much sweeter.) But I think the Blog Revolution Test is simple enough: Can you recall ANY memorable insight or phrase or original argument about regime change in Iraq (which really was the most important debate when this technology was still in short pants) that had its provenance on any permalinked and immediately archived post? Actually, all right, I do remember one: Kos saying that the industrial contractors in Falluja, whose corpses were notoriously mutilated and put on public display, were "mercernaries... fuck them." Truly have the Insta-Paines of the 21st century arrived...

Even Sullivan's best stuff continues to be his "professional" punditry, where he has more room to stretch out and develop his thoughts. (OK, damn it, another blog blurb, if only because it was reprinted in George Packer's Assassins' Gate: After the fall of Baghdad, in response to signs brandished by Iraqis thanking the US, Sully wrote, "You're welcome." Now, would anything that self-righteous or cringe-worthy, as Packer rightly represented it in his book, have made it past a kind editor at the Times Online, or Time magazine -- or even past Sully's own deadline-harried reconsideration?)

Blogs work best in the labor of the negative; as swarm criticism that forces the 800 pound gorillas of the mainstream media to better behave themselves, or at least to watch their steps more closely. But even in this you still have another variation on the theme of the "democrat's pornography" -- to borrow Ian McEwan's definition for daytime television.

The first draft of history is still somehow nobler than the scribbled, easily misplaced notes of it.

Fri Feb 17, 11:01:00 PM  
Anonymous ultan said...

Excellent article, young Butterworth. About time someone countered the like of "We, The Media" (D. Gillmor). Why these people didn't work off their angst in College magazines, with their tried, undergraduate polemics beate me. There's already a huge amount of narcissism, self-absorption, and frankly, utterly dismal writing in the world, without bloggers. The trend just adds to the misery. Perhaps, with the advent of 24-Hour drinking we'll see a decline as bloggers return to their traditional forum: the barstool.

Sat Feb 18, 01:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Tom Roper said...

Just reading the article. There's more to blogs than the news/politics-based ones though.
And how about an OPML file of the blogs you cite?

Sat Feb 18, 01:36:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Thanks for your kind words Tutatis - and good points.
If I had but space enough and time to do justice to blogging in Greece, or Israel or Indonesia or Chile (perhaps some FT readers will offer up some apt observation on what's going on elsewhere?).

It's interesting that Argentina's bloggerati come from journalism - and I think it points to the irony that blogging may well be more useful to media professionals than to would-be citizen journalists.

And one of the potential uses for blogging is as a means of explaining to readers how journalists do what they do - and why they did what they did with respect to specific articles.

I have no idea what the pop-cultural view of a journalist is in Argentina, but I can tell you that Hollywood sees him or her - pace All the President's Men - as a scoundrel, a leech on decent society.

Media accountability, at least here in the U.S.
typically means the media apologizing for incidents which give this Hollywood version of journalism more than a ring of truth. Now, I think it would be would be much more useful for the public and the press to see accountability as starting with the basics - what happened between the reporter waking up one morning and the story rolling off the presses - and why.

One important cavil I have with the "blog as a reporter's notebook" is the lack of coherence and reflection that such spontaneous blogging can have. I remember looking at some war correspondents' blogs during the second invasion of Iraq and thinking, hmmh, no thanks, I'll wait for the finished article - you know, when all these random details make sense and are written in more engaging prose...

Best -


Sat Feb 18, 01:54:00 AM  
Anonymous niall little said...

Great article Trevor. Very, very enjoyable. Anyone who askes me "What is a blog?" in future shall receive a printout.

Sat Feb 18, 02:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Vincent said...

Blogs are nothing more than a great way of keeping a website up to date. Perhaps the word blog should be dropped, in exchange for "easily updated website that encourages lazy webmasters like me to add new pages for google each day".
Blog are just websites.. so unless websites are about to crash, blogs will be kicking for a while yet.

Sat Feb 18, 04:24:00 AM  
Blogger philip letts said...

I wrote a piece today at www.techboard.blogspot.com that responds to your article on blogging.

I think what you have written is important because it takes a lot of the hype and mystery out of blogging. And raises it's profile.

But I think the real blogging revolution is not about replacing mainstream media, but in it's first phase is about augmenting and challenging corporate media.

And I believe the 2nd phase of the blogging revolution will be about allowing anyone and their dog anywhere in the world to share in the wealth of the Internet.

Whether it is just about sharing themselves or whether it will prove to be that blogging technology will one day allow any of us to launch almost any kind of web business with no tehcnical skills whatsoever and no VC money. This could prove to be the real revolution.

Sat Feb 18, 04:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Francois Brutsch said...

A few interesting things, but all in all I fear your article is missing the point, as I say on my blog (in French). You conveniently narrow the focus on blogs vs. big media where the real question is how media and public debate have to change because of innovations like blogging. And there are others: RSS, podcasting... Funny that old Rupert Murdoch gets it and you don't.

I wonder why your didn't interview or quote the authority on the subject, Jeff Jarvis?

Sat Feb 18, 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger EnglishLawyer said...

As someone says above the point of blogs is rather missed.

First they are a massively powerful tool in world freedom of speech (see China etc).

Secondly they are an internal psychological tool which makes a lot of people feel better.

Thirdly they can in some cases generate attention, spread views and increase business (but not often through paid advertising on the blog - no one really expects that). Thus I practise intellectual property law and there's an IP law blog in the UK (not mine) which just like the paid legal writing I do generates legal work and enhances business reputations.

I was commissioned to write an employee blogging policy for a publishing client's book/product recently which was fun. Such power. I was of course paid....

Most blogs are really dull but one can avoid those with relative ease.

Sat Feb 18, 06:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Neil Baker said...


Enjoyed your article, particularly the idea of opinion as the new pornogrpahy. But I think that at heart it is flawed - your thesis rests on a false dichotomy.

I agree that we should question whether blogging is "about to drive the mainstream news media into oblivion?" I'd say no, it isn't. But the only alternative to this that you allow is that it's "just another crock of virtual gold - a meretricious equivalent of all those noisy internet start-ups". Which I'd disagree with - there's much more to bloggin than that.

Yes, there are many, many blogs that are based on parasitic sniping, personal opinion or navel gazing. But there are other blogs that engage in genuine reporting and use blogging technology to tell stories in new and interesting ways (e.g. http://www.livesinfocus.org/).

I think the current state of blogging is analagous to broadcast radio in the early 20th century. The technology exists and is being pioneered by - largely - unpaid enthusiasts. At some point, there will have to be a convergence between how people want to use the technology and a business model to support that use. For radio, it was on air advertsing and public funding. For blogs? I'd be a billionaire if I knew!


Sat Feb 18, 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Francois - thanks for your comment, or rather challenge. And it is a valid challenge, but I fear one that would easily command a few thousand words. Here's a few starting points:

As we know from the dawn of democracy, "democrats" had to be dragged, coerced or fined to get them into the
(Athenian) Agora. The point was once again made, in reference to American democracy, by the sociologist and press historian Michael Schudson (The Good
Citizen: A History of American Civic Life): the U.S.
public is essentially monitorial in the way it "participates" in American politics. It'll pay attention if something nasty is hitting the fan, but then it'll go back to its own business. So the mere fact that blogging opens up new channels of public discourse means very little.

One exercise which I engaged in while writing this article was to ask non-media professionals whether they read blogs. The sample was small, but the the participants were all rising stars within their fields. And the answer wasn't simply "no" - it was often accompanied by "i'm not really sure what a blog is" - or "I couldn't give a hoot about what someone thinks about the war in Iraq. This is not useful or necessary information. I don't even have time for useful or necessary information."

A tiny percentage of Americans are using blogging as a way to interact with elites. In other words, blogging has produced claques. ( I suspect the elites are paying attention because blogging has been so overhyped in the U.S. media, but nevermind. Are these claques agitating for some major social cause like the civil rights movement? I don't think so. I doubt future historians will point to the role the blogoshpere played in the "struggle" for gay marriage.

No, bloggers - unlike the often insufferably sanctimonius U.S. media - are not, in the main, standing up for the dispossessed in America - the working and welfared poor. Yes, blogging has given more muscle to an already powerful conservative media criticism machine - but what has that achieved? The bloggers who debunked the Killian memos were not experts at documentation - proportional spacing, one of their arguments for why the memos had been produced on a computer and not a typewriter, were, in fact, available on typewriters. The former Republican attorney general, Richard Thornburgh leading the internal CBS investigation into the scandal wasn't able to conclude whether the memos were fake or authentic.

And we shall see whether the progressive activism that has been channeled through the likes of the Daily Kos into a "netroots" movement ultimately serves the Democratic Party or scuppers its chances in the next election.

Finally, I put it to you Francois, that the "collective intelligence" of the blogosphere, the channels for democratic participation are but a virtual Maginot line against a State employing blogging to further its own ends. The rhetorical tropes that diminish the idea of an independent press obligated to preserving democracy are powerful masks for less-than-democratic political ends...

The presiding spirit of the blogosphere could just as easily be Joseph Goebbels as Tom Paine.



Sat Feb 18, 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Jon - your message was short, but I urge you to post again with a more expansive comment on "The New Gatekeepers." I think this is particularly relevant issue - especially for Francois below (!)

One of the ways the American press differs from the British press - at least according to the Alsop brothers - is the special democratic obligation that the First Amendment places upon the media. In other words, the press has a rational obligation to preserve the kind of society in which a free press is possible.

I think (I'm at a coffee shop and don't have access to my library) it was in a book "philosophy and journalism" that the author, a philosopher, marvelled at how journalists argued passionately about ethics without any sense that such arguments had taken place in the history of ideas - or that people had written em up... in books! Still, at least there is sense of purpose and "good" in debates on journalism. The idea that the blogosphere is a market where good ideas will win out over bad ideas is a tad optimistic.

Hugh Hewitt begins his defence of the blogging by citing theories of netcentric warfare as a sort of virtual blitzkrieg. What is to prevent a state from adapting that under the guise of "indpendent" citizen bloggers holding the corrupt mainstream media to account?

Just a thought...

So distill some of your series for us Jon!

Best - Trevor

Sat Feb 18, 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Camden Lady said...

Interesting article, but one which really only considers the political / journalistic part of the blogosphere, and doesn't acknowledge that blogging is largely the product of thousands of people who just want somewhere to say something. The top 50 are interesting, but not really the heart of it. The real fascination is to be found in the ambulance driver from East London, or the creative pictures of cats

My blog, although small and only read by a few, is at least not going to end up as tomorrow's chip paper. Posts get picked up by Googlers, and found days or weeks later, so I'm hardly yoked to news cycles as you must be.

And as for non-media professionals not reading blogs, how many tech professionals were there in that sample?

Sat Feb 18, 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Thanks for your post.

It will be VERY interesting to see what Kos and the whole "netroots" movement will achieve in the 2006 election.

The thing is, most serious studies of the American electorate show voters to be a lot less extreme than the soapboxers would have us and them believe. The netroots movement could crash and burn and take the Democratic party with it if it pushes too far to the left.

Comments like those Kos made about the contractors in Falluja suggest that he's well on his way to being the Abbie Hoffman of the blogosphere...


Sat Feb 18, 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Francois Brutsch said...

Trevor, was your reply to my comment a parody of French intellectualism? Being Swiss I am as dismissive of it as the next British or American... ;-)

But I asked one direct question: what about Jeff Jarvis?

Sat Feb 18, 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger joseph mailander said...

If you're trying to weigh blogs by any measure of influence, say political influence, our own opinion is that they can potentially move at present between 2-5% of any vote in any election. But we've seen that their place in the "media cycle" (a term that we really didn't use much before blogging) wields potentially wider influence, because local news affiliates especially will report in the evening what's hot in the blogosphere in the morning.

We saw this first in California in the Davis recall election---a blog would report something, the media would respond through the rest of the day. Republicans learned the trick well, so did some Democrats in 2004--but the Kerry campaign did not, and paid its price in an election that was far closer than people seem to remember it being.

In other spheres, other media are leading the charge to reap the benefit of influence from bloggers. Most large publishers know that good blog buzz sells a wider range of books more dependably than the nation's wheezy, diminishing book reviews do. Hollywood increasing invites bloggers to screenings---in particular, George Clooney is good at this, and look at the kind of year he has had.

As for profitability, it's not disturbing, and figures are meaningless at this point. It took cable tv about twenty years after availability to saturate media sufficiently before achieving profitability. It will take blogging a shorter time.

Newspapers in particular are threatened by blogging, and their relationship to bloggers is telling. My own local paper, the LATimes, has had lots of bad blogging experiences, and predictably its circulation has nosedived in recent years.

Already, we're seeing blogs do increasingly sophisticated things both journalistically and especially with regards to cultural criticism. My own guess is that in the future blogs will be very large, composed of even hundreds of people, but the skillset demanded will be very different than of old media: the most desired ability will be the ability to build communities. In old media, the corporate frame is responsible for the sense of authority---in blogging, the authority will reside far closer to individuals, and individuals who most inspire both interactivity and connectivity will be the most read.

Sorry to go on so long, but, hey, it's just a blog comment---unlike print, there's no restriction of space; the only restriction is the reader's patience, and the reader is always very generous if learning something---which is why people come back in increasing numbers to the blogs at which they can do so.

Sat Feb 18, 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Salutations Mr. O'Broin!

(whom, I should add, I co-edited Trinity News with back in the good old bad old days when the Mac plus and Pagemaker version one were "revolutionary," and whom I haven't seen in years).

Given the time difference, I assume you are drifting barstool-wards in Dublin right about now?



Sat Feb 18, 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Vino said...

Hi Trevor,
Yes, a fun article. Though like Dan Gross in Slate yesterday, you do focus on the top 100 blogs.
What's arguably more exciting is the "magic middle" of niche blogs that often offer expertise and/or enthusiasm.
Glad blogs are making it in the mainstream media--help inform those 62%! Cheers,

Sat Feb 18, 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

"A parody of French intellectualism?" LOL - Francois, I was hoping you'd taken it as a parody of German intellectualism. Still, so "sensible" a Brit as Cyril Connolly worried about the idea of the BBC being a state-owned enterprise - something Hilton Kramer, of all people, praised for being acute and a propos in the New York Times some years ago.

Jeff Jarvis. Why? I interviewed many people whose comments never made into the piece including Jay Rosen and Nick Lemann. I solicited many more people, including Hugh Hewitt, who is perhaps the most ardent proponent of blogging as an alternative to regular journalism. At some point, one has to stop and write.
I'm sure Jarvis' comments would have been interesting, but I'm more sure Richard Rorty's or Gywneth Paltrow's would have been more interesting still...

Best - T

Sat Feb 18, 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Hi Joseph,

Unfortunately, the fact that we can't rely on some of the blogging public's good manners to run an unmoderated forum means that the time lag between Washington DC and London has produced a certain discontinuous quality to my responses (I'm sure Francois will accuse me of being Foucauldian for that comment!).

Clooney - yes, very smart guy and it's really touching that someone who inhabits a world renowned for fakery would take so much effort to honor his journalist father. I have to say though, Good Night and Good Luck got much traction from free screenings for journalists in NYC and DC - and a splendid reception and panel discussion hosted by the Radio and Television Directors Association, where Clooney pressed the flesh of everyone in the room (including my own).

Let's just say, he knows a thing or two about power.

Anyway, you do make a valid point - the blogosphere (or whatever) does represent something extraordinary:
a mania for the written word. It's a vast article of the day club of clubs (altho' there's something vaguely tragic about the fact that we're discussing news stories rather than books).

Remember - way back in 1998 - when the written word was being written off? When a new heiroglypics of video inscribed on the net was going to relegate words into oblivion? Remember Newsweek in 2000 announcing that books, as we know them, were finished?

I think the mainstream media can capitalize
(literally) on this phenomenon.

But I also think there are other more ominous trends.
I attended a panel discussion the other week in New York where Michael Wolff, Mark Whitiker and other major players in big media were discussing their future. At the same time, I was being briefed on what the telecommunications industry would like to do with the web. The real discussion is not whether blogging is the next big thing, or medium-sized thing, but whether Google and other content aggregators are going to have to cough up for all those links - and whether the days of a free Internet are drawing to a close...

Best -


Sat Feb 18, 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

It'd be interesting to hear what the blogs you mentioned, and the ones you didn't, have to say about this. But in my experience, by the time Monday rolls around, all the FT Weekend stuff goes behind the subscription veil. Shame that. I think from a purely marketing perspective that FT should give a few days grace to the weekend features so it doesn't disappear forever.

For whatever you sat about blogging, your article on a blog or a blog post about your article will remain at a Google users fingertips for ages. But unfortunately, your article will disappear off the map, only to be found by the most intrepid FT explorers.

And as for, "blogging is the closest literary culture has come to instant obsolescence." I can't agree as many of my friends have gotten impressive writing gigs, screenplays commissioned and book deals from their blogs. No, not the type of book/blog deals that require one have sex with powerful Washington types or tell-all there is to tell.

I'm talking about just damn good writers who have found a venue to shine in and succeed in with passion and hard work. Blogs that got them notice where working in print, or live or in television didn''t. Blogs that gave them a chance at being more risky. But as these stories are less sexy, you may not hear them -- until one day you learn that one of your favorite authors started as a blogger.

I have years of experience working live, in print, in television, in film, and online. Blogging isn't the death of print, but only snobbery would deem it as intrinsically any less worthy.

It's a venue for writers. A few good writers are able to support themselves via blogging, a few have proved themselves through blogging, a few have been discovered through blogging, and more print authors than you know are invigorating their careers through blogging.

Anywho, I have now written way too much. And if bloggers are doomed to suffer from disposability, surely this comment will make it's way into the incinerator of history even faster. Which is just dandy with me and prob for the best.

Still, thanks for writing about one of my favorite hobby-horses.

Sat Feb 18, 03:37:00 PM  
Anonymous renaissance chambara said...

Blogging is another example of technology making the cost of production of an item cheaper. Blogging is part of a long line of technologies including factory robots, camcorders, laser printers and Whilst the FT.com spent tens of millions of pounds in setting up its online presence, blogging has lowered the economic barriers to entry considerably.

What blogging also does is give lots of poor to mediocre writers a voice. Whether they will be heard depends on the efforts of Yahoo! and Google to index their pages in their search engine and then spit out their posts as a result to appropriate search terms.
Relatively rare successes like Gawker Media has joined other new media entrants like The Smoking Gun and The Drudge Report. Ultimately these media outlets still rely on the skill and the journalistic ability of their contributors.

Sat Feb 18, 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

Oh yeah, and what is that behind you in the photo? Is that a fire extinguisher? A bottle of merlot with a feathery Native American Headress? An industrial-sized whippets dispenser?

Seriously dying to know.

Sat Feb 18, 06:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another interesting development that endangers the mainstream media is the rise of news aggregators like News Bump which is more interesting than many big media outlets.

Sat Feb 18, 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Harbinger said...

The FT's piece had the kind of thoughtfulness, elegance, research and careful editing which one seldom gets on blogs, signalling how much we still need well-run newspapers to signal to us what it is important, what isn't and to convey it in a way that is readable and enlightening. But it then sent us to this blog, which allowed us to engage in immediate and rich public debate around the issue with each other and with the author.
That say's it all, argues The Harbinger(www.big.co.za/wordpress/?cat=1) blog.

Sun Feb 19, 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Douglass Turner said...

Thanks for an excellent piece Trevor.

One of the most immediate problems blogging has is that it is simply not a viable standalone business. Period.

This makes the fabric of the blogosphere extremely fragile and transient. This goes directly to the trust we are willing to place in a given blog.


Sun Feb 19, 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Well, I must say, I only wish I could read such
messages every morning! If I haven't said it already
(on this forum), blogs are very useful tools for
journalists to communicate with their audience: the
empyrean "we answer to no-one" attitude in American
journalism has been self-destructive; as an editor and
a journalist, you should be thrilled that your readers
care so much as to write a letter or post a response -
even if that response can cut close to the bone. It's
about customer relations.

It's been interesting to see reaction to this article
around the blogosphere: among the detractors, I have
to say, I found an enormous degree of inaccuracy in
simply describing the basics of this story. I was
described as a former writer for the Guardian (?!)
Someone over at Free Republic also googled me and
decided I was a Northern Ireland socialist; it simply
baffles me how they managed to conjure that up.

I think this underscores the structural limitations of
blogging - if you do it "properly" it's too quick to
be useful as a vehicle for criticism. And if you take
the time to be thoughtful, then you might as well be a
website (and have some means to support your virtual

Best - Trevor

Sun Feb 19, 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Hi Susie,

The red object behind me in the picture is a fire
extinguisher. The place is Termon House, which makes
an appearance in my previous story for the FT, which
was on the semicolon.

A friend at another publication e-mailed me when this
story came out offering to photoshop the extinguisher
out, but I said no: it will only fuel an international
media firestorm. Within days, blogs will be saying
that Trevor Butterworth is an illusion - a front for
old media ex-Sparticists bent on destroying the

On one of your other points, I'm thrilled to hear of
people getting real work out of blogging - but aren't
these folks (see how Americanized I am) already
writers? As of now, there are 28.1 million blogs - and
the numbers of such successes are little more than
statistical noise, I'm afraid. The odds on living the
American Dream Inc are much higher!

(And really, people were putting their work on the web
and launching their careers before the coming of
blogger et al.)

Best - T

Sun Feb 19, 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger bruno cardoso reis said...

Dear Trevor

Good piece. And brave of you to self-contradict a bit and set up a blog. It is always a good sign when people criticise you because you did not write about more stuff. I understand your focus, but I still think it is worth point out that blogs can be about a lot more than just politics.

The idea of the blogosphere replacing traditional media is probably delusional, I agree. Looking at the history of media that has seldom happened. We still have printed books alongside radio, TV, films. Modernity has meant more and more information in different media. When replacement has taken place it is usually because of an obvious added value in providing basically the same thing: as in manuscript books being replaced by printed ones or talkies replacing «silent» films. Printed media and blogs of course have writing in common. But traditional media companies are already online and they provide the means to do proof-reading, interview key players, do in-depth reporting that are beyond the pale for most if not all bloggers, who mostly depend on the traditional media to have something to chew on. Will people really stop reading printed newspapers and printed magazines? Possible if unlikely. Will blogs get more money? As you point out if they do they will tend to become more professional and morph into something not unlike an online magazine or perhaps even a printed one. Blogs are great at complementing traditional media with instant debate and analysis. But complementing is the opposite of replacing.

Taking up your challenge for foreign bloggers to give their take on their home turf, I would say that the picture of the blogsphere in Portugal is actually quite similar in some crucial ways to the one you describe. There is a strong trend for the explosion in the number of blogs actually leading to a few monopolising most readers and acting as gatekeepers. The crucial moment came when traditional media stars started blogs. Some new names have emerged, but a few have then move on to the mainstream media, even if keeping some activity as bloggers. Most successful bloggers are some kind of professional writers – academics, writers and critics, or journalists. There is no money, or very little, because the market is very small. Even if the challenge by the blogsphere to the traditional monopoly of the press has ruffled some feathers, the notion that it is a serious threat to mainstream media is not taken seriously.

Sun Feb 19, 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Anonymous - I think you raise an important point (but why be so shy?). And here's my prediction: the old media are going to go after the news aggregators – and there's going to be virtual blood on the wall. Listening to major media players at a Knight Bagehot panel discussion, I came away feeling that the dinosaurs were beginning to rumble.

And understand where I'm coming from: I've spent the best part of my 8-year journalism career producing online, alternative media. So I'm not some fuddy-duddy technophobe.

The other development that everyone should be paying attention to is whether the big telecommunications companies are going to start charging us for the online experience - in every shape and form. Let me quote from an article by Jeff Chester in the Feb 1 issue of the Nation:

"Senior phone executives have publicly discussed plans to begin imposing a new scheme for the delivery of Internet content, especially from major Internet content companies. As Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of AT&T, told Business Week in November, ‘Why should they be allowed to use my pipes? The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo! Or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!’”

There may be no asteroids - as Ana Marie Cox said in the article - coming to wipe out the old media dinosaur, but there just might be some nasty evolutionary surprises ahead for blogging and the

Best - T

Sun Feb 19, 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Hi Doug,

I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. As I note in my reply to “Anonymous”, who brought up the threat of news aggregators, virtual living may be in for some evolutionary shocks.

As for the issue of blogonomics - it seems to me that the blog enterprises that are breaking even or beginning to thrive have done so by becoming more like regular media companies.

Some critics have blogged me to task for ignoring the free-speech, independent virtues of blogging, and for being too preoccupied with what Madison Avenue things, which are fair points. And perhaps I might be more sympathetic if I had a trust-fund or a tenured position to subsidize writing and punditry as a full-time hobby.

Best - T

Sun Feb 19, 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger t.s. said...

A few thoughts (OK, more than a few):


Got to run. Back later.

Sun Feb 19, 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Bruno - I have little to add to the point that anything so institutionalized as the Fourth Estate will experience periods of atrophy and rebellion. Blogging is – at least in the US - a revolution built on the "internet revolution."

But too many bloggers are so focused on the idea that they are participating in a new revolutionary moment to realize that plus ca change...

Thanks for the information on blogging in Portugal...

Best - Trevor

Sun Feb 19, 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...


I read your comments last night and the revised post this morning. Why not copy and paste it on this forum?

The thing you have to remember when you say that the article is a "stale" rehash is that most people are much less familiar with blogging than you are – but they are aware of the hype surrounding it. And this is especially so given that I'm focused on the situation in the US and the FT has an international audience.

I think I've addressed a lot of your points on this forum. As for the contention that "while noting that new blogs start every minute, Butterworth is uninterested in what these bloggers are doing. His preoccupation is those few blogs most like newspapers in their ability to claim a substantial

I would say precisely. If no-one is reading what you are writing, the fact that you are blogging your thoughts may be culturally interesting, but it is of marginal cultural significance.

In 1998, I helped create a website - newswatch.org - which produced near real-time criticism of the press. I've no doubt it would have worked better as a blog. But by the final financial gasp (and this was a nonprofit project of the Center for Media and Public Affairs), I was worn out by writing criticism almost every day for almost two years. The brain was exhausted - and for what? Most of that material became almost instantly unreadable.

I find it odd that so many people, who are otherwise ill-disposed towards our disposable culture, who would slam television for triviality, would rush to embrace a medium that works against seriousness.

When you take the public intellectual heft of a tradition in the US that gave us the Partisan Review and Commentary, the New York Review of books and the
Public Interest, Dissent, and later, Suck and Feed, The Baffler, even McSweenys - citizen journalism is devolutionary.

Writing driven by serious reporting and thought requires effort. And as Sam Johnson said, "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure."

Thanks for reading tho!



Sun Feb 19, 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Hey Trevor - Great piece! I first heard of blogs in the dark ages of 2002 or 2003, and I not only failed to apprehend the concept, I also believed the poor messenger was having a breakdown and suggested SSRIs. That was some crazy talk. Now I have some understanding of them, due to the passage of time (how long is four years of blog time in human time?), the fact that my ex-aunt is a blogger (check out talkleft.com), and - of course, of course - your terrific article. Love the bit on Marx and Orwell - gravitasty! Nothing new under the sun. Although I feel odd writing about this in the same type of space in which one usually posts an e-vite reply (mine are always short and terse and non-clever on principle - is there a relationship between those who are effusive on evites and those who have a predilection to blog?), I have a question: what do you think of the relationship between blogs and memoirs? How can you spot an inchoate blogger among us?Sincerely, Rachel from NYC

Sun Feb 19, 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was an article two-plus years ago on Orwell-as-first-blogger in Salon...


Sun Feb 19, 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your article, it seems to me, is driven by a journalist's fear of what blogs will become.

I don't read newspapers, because I heard, as I grew up, that one was for the left, and one for the right, and everything is written by someone with an opinion one way or another. In buying one newpaper, I get the news through the lense of that leaning. Embeded reporters, can't be neutral either, they are limited to telling you what are they allowed to tell you, if nothing else, driven by their own safety. And, bad news and scandal drive newspaper sales, distorting the view again.

In contrast I can read 250 blog feeds a day. 200 of those people might be talking about one thing - hurricane Katrina for example. 200 different opinions, not just one, 200 independent opinions not driven by fear, 200 unpaid opinions not driven by sales. 200 opinions that allow me to make up my mind. This is my unbiased source of information.

And when the other 62% of the population catch up, people will make money out of blogs if they want to - people already are, both directly by advertising, and indirectly by raising their profile and producing books, public speaking and other sales from their websites.

It is far too soon to say that personal blogs are irrelevant, either in a cultural or financial sense.

As for the blogosphere doesn't exist? Just look at how many people link to each others blogs, comment, drive discussion and debate. That's what the blogosphere is all about.

Sun Feb 19, 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Susie said...

Made me look! Thanks for the behind the pic info -- very funny stuff. And speaking of "made me look" the semi-colon article was fab too... which I found and read by Googling and finding a nasty, ephemeral blog with the text. Shhh!

But seriously, as for the people who I know who got work thourgh blogging, most were not writers, not paid writers, at least. I'd provide examples, but then I'd just look like a spammer.

And yes, statistically the number of blogs vs. the number who get work is tiny. But how many are looking for the blog to get them work?

But I do firmly believe that with talent, the grass cracks through the sidewalk. Blogs just give the non-technically adept a fertile medium. Then with a bit of light ( exposure) they can grow.

Last thought: wouldn't it be nice if your online byline was hyperlinked to all your previous FT articles, even if it was only a paragraph before the dreaded registration barrier?

That's it! I'm outta here. I think your crazy FT blogspot experiment is a success; the commenters are particularly eloquent.
Note to self: So what am I doing here?

I can only hope that it will make you a tad more sunny towards the whole blogging thang. I'll certainly look out for your byline when reading the FT on the subway. Cheers, S

Sun Feb 19, 06:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Brian Gilley said...

I must admit and interesting piece. I'm sure you'll get lots of links and traffic from blogs discussing it :)

Initially, my thoughts to your FT article and comments here keep looping back to just a few valid points not really mentioned at all. One has to do with your first followup (second post reply on this page) to Joseph where you said,

"And that's a point that I think comes across in thepiece - blogging is being absorbed by traditionalmedia. It adds a twist to what was already going on -but really, not THAT much more."

My reply to this statment is, what happens when bloggers are continually beating traditional writers to the punch with many top news stories? By this I mean bloggers intrinsically tied to certain niche industries where they receive and report news and information faster than traditional media sources. I can recall hundreds of examples over the past 6 months or so where the blogger beat any newspaper to the story.

Where does this leave newspapers and journalists with the FT, SF Cronicle, NYT, etc? IMHO, it means these newspapers will continually get left overs, a trend already occurring at a phennomenal rate (and not discussed here).

I can name countless articles and topics broken by mere bloggers that were never picked up on quickly enough by newspapers.

I find it ironic and extremely hilarious at the same time that sites like Blogburst.com (oh, there will be many more) which are going to be syndicating blogs to major newspapers like the SF Cronicle, Houston Cronicle, Washington Post, and more.

A small quote from them states,

"BlogBurst is the first and only service that combines people and technology for the purpose of presenting blog content on major online properties. We have a growing roster of top-tier publishers ready to tap into the rich, diverse content that the blogosphere offers."

Newspapers are and will be wanting a piece of what bloggers are writing about. If they don't, they'll lose market share and readership. It's that simple.

They will tie into the best and most timely, niche-focused blogs. There's no doubt about it.

Let's face it, blogs have only been around for several years. newspapers have been around for decades. I really do think that this short funeral you've portraid for blogs is a little premature.

When consolidation and progressive blogs are formed, manicured, and have ample and targeted followings, newspapers will understand their potentials. Honestly, I'm surprised more newspapers are not buying up these types of blogs already.

Again, good article and great topic!

Brian G

PS - you only stratched the surface with a brief comment about Technorati.com. I think this is an important subject unto itself since newspapers are not nearly grasping the major outlets for distribution as bloggers are doing everyday. To me, this is something newspapers can learn from.

Sun Feb 19, 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Jon Garfunkel said...

Trevor-- thanks for recognizing my comment. I tend to keep my comments short since I've already written much on the topic, and some readers have come on over to take a glance. But basically I agree with your premise, conveyed in the article and here, that most of the blogging analysis is warped. There's been this sense from bloggers like the head of the Media Bloggers Association that Ana Marie Cox betrayed them. And then see how your words get warped by the Online Journalism Review.

Though it does speak volumes that FT's website software has NO WAY of enabling discussions for stories, or for sending you email. It's kind of sad-- a lack of vision on the part of the newspaper software vendors, or their buyers? So you start using Goolge Blogger software, but you'll find out that it won't end up working well in the end because Blogger was never designed correctly in the first place. Google has no incentive to add something useful like threaded discussion to it.

Sun Feb 19, 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Kees Metselaar said...

Enjoyed the story.
You do not mention photo blogs.
I just use a blog as a simple web site, cv, showcase.

Sun Feb 19, 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger t.s. said...

Jack Balkin has a post that touches on many of the subjects discussed above here:


Sun Feb 19, 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous George Hebben said...

Mr Butterworth:
what a great name!
Came to your essay on Arts and Letters Daily, the greatest Website of them all.
Absolutely spot on!
Thank you

Sun Feb 19, 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Tolle, Blogge said...

All the talk of a blogging "revolution" reminds me of some of the excitement over one of the other internet revolutions to democratize knowledge, Usenet. Note, for example, all the optimism in the "sociological implications" of Wikipedia's entry on Usenet.

Sun Feb 19, 09:42:00 PM  
Anonymous pieman said...

I like the idea of a newspaper linking features to a blog to dicsuss ideas and wotnot stemming from the article. Is this blog a one off, or will more FT features have an accompanying blog space ? Was it your idea? Do you have a personal blog and if you do, why didn't you link to that instead?

Sun Feb 19, 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Dear pieman

This was an FT Magazine idea and it’s a one-off. We thought it appropriate to discuss blogging on a blog and Trevor knows what he’s talking about. There are no plans for blogs to discuss other articles.

There are, however, blogs and discussions all the time on ft.com, mostly behind the subscription firewall. We’ve got to make a living here.

Graham Watts, editor, FT Magazine

Mon Feb 20, 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Mon Feb 20, 02:32:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Dear Jon

I’ll leave Trevor to get back to you again if he wishes. But, as far as the FT’s website is concerned, as I explained to pieman above, there are discussions for stories and email exchanges, but not on every story and almost always behind the subscription firewall. We could have had this discussion on ft.com, but we thought we’d leave the mother ship for this little exercise.


Mon Feb 20, 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger K said...

I enjoyed the article, although you might want to get a French speaking subeditor:

‘c’est magnifique, mais c’est ne pas la guerre.”??

Mon Feb 20, 03:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

Would Orwell would have been a hopeless blogger? Possibly. But I think he would have approved of the medium itself - not least as a way of keeping a diary of political events and how they are reported - with the added bonus of being able to share this with others and see how others have viewed them.

Mon Feb 20, 03:34:00 AM  
Blogger johnflood said...

Oh poor Butterworth! I think you struggled to keep up the word count in your article. Your piece was delightfully petulant (teenage scribblers comes to mind), but nevertheless has done something to raise bloggers' profiles.

As I say in my blog at Random Academic Thoughts (RATs) blogging is a liberating activity, but you still need to check your facts, eg, Posner blogs all the time.

Mon Feb 20, 04:23:00 AM  
Anonymous An entrepreneur, corp exec, business owner, mentor to startups, father, brother and husband + more! said...

I read trevors article with great interest in the printed FT. Id be interested in his views of how blogs relate to the many networks and communities like www.soflow.com and other connections being created through http://del.icio.us. Also in contrast or comparison to the generation emerging with http://en.wikipedia.org

For me its about my webstyle now integrating both my workstyle and my lifestyle in a more complete interesting and useful way. Kind of living up to the web2.0 promise.

Mon Feb 20, 05:14:00 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

As I believe that some other comments have pointed out, there's more to blogging than politics and gossip. To be sure, those are the highest-profile activities, but those are the high-profile spots of a traditional newspaper as well.

What this view doesn't include, though, are the sites written by people from inside various professions. I've learned a great deal about what it's like to be a physics professor from Chad Orzel's "Uncertain Principles" blog, and people can (I hope) learn about what it's like to do research in a drug company from my own "In the Pipeline".

Blogging has given me and many others a chance to talk about what we know and what we do, and to reach an audience that otherwise we never could have found.

Mon Feb 20, 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Hi Andrew - sorry for the time delay in responding to your post. Possibly Orwell would have been a blogger - but, as a leading conservative consultant pointed out to me while I was writing this article - the partisan nature of blogging (we only read people who say what we want to hear) might have made writing Homage to Catalonia difficult. And of course, there would be the hulking shadow of Connolly threatening to break his fingers or make him eat foie gras if he dared blog his health away...

Best - T

Mon Feb 20, 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Thanks Mr Flood for your concern - but I'm not as poor as I might be if I spent my time blogging LOL! (It's a holiday here in the U.S. - btw).

Actually, I had enough material to easily coast to 10,000 words on this article. So many people had so many interesting things to say about blogging - and not all of them negative!!!

As for Judge Posner - whose "non superficial" (New York Times Book Review editors' words) meditation on the state of the media was one of the most superficial and dull pieces of media criticism I've read in eight years writing about the media - I did note that he had a blog.

Actually Posner is an interesting case: I REALLY think he would benefit from writing less and polishing more - although his grand unifying theory of economic determinism is a framework which enables him to process the problem du jour into without words much intellectual effort.

Thanks for reading!

Best - T

Mon Feb 20, 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Hi Kees - sorry for the discontinuous nature of my replies - but yes, I think the photo blogs are interesting.

Best - T

Mon Feb 20, 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Once area you haven't covered so much is the niche side of blogging; not one blogger talking to the whole mainstream market, but several bloggers talking to a smaller community but not excluding people outside the community. Mommyblogging and the like give a voice to a community that extends beyond the community; I've been in many journalist forums over the years but they've been closed forums. There's a definite value in that - to the community in the closed group - but there's discussion that goes on that could be more public. We're in a fragmented 500 channel world; niche publishing and aggregation is going to play a big part. The economics of it are less compelling - but publishing in the widest sense has never been only about money. Blogging exemplifies the Long Tail.

Mon Feb 20, 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger johnflood said...

I agree with what you say about Judge Posner! And mea culpa on my misreading...But it does look as though the majority of commentators are pro-blogging.

BTW I like your website. Very nicely done!

Mon Feb 20, 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Brian - good morning. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Here we go, you write:

"what happens when bloggers are continually beating traditional writers to the punch with many top news stories? By this I mean bloggers intrinsically tied to certain niche industries where they receive and report news and information faster than traditional media sources. I can recall hundreds of examples over the past 6 months or so where the blogger beat any newspaper to the story."

I don't mean to be churlish, but where's your empirical data? Look at it this way: If I go to the Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters feeds, or the Press Association or Agence France press or the NYT news service, or any number of big, small, but absolutely traditional media news services, I will be overwhelmed with breaking news that has, in the main, been reported, written and edited by professionals every hour of the day.

So even if you can point to hundreds of examples of blog-borne original news over the past six months the ratio to noise is woeful: There are 28.2 million blogs. And how many of these stories were broken by media professionals blogging? And how is that radically different from what was happening on the Internet pre-blogging?

One of the ways I "use" the blogosphere is in tracking science stories, for example, the ongoing scare over Teflon. In the U.S., the media has done a woeful job of reporting this issue in a scientifically responsible way. The volume of basic error - driven by a failure to do basic reporting - truly stunned me. But if the media coverage was dumb, the blogosphere reaction was, overall, dumber. Imagine a grab bag of hastily digested media stories filtered through scientific illiteracy. As a veteran of the Internet revolution, I remember the constant charge that the Internet was a dumb pipe - well, with blogging, the pipe got a lot bigger.

The more information becomes useless, the more people in power will migrate to media that provide them with the information that enables them to reflect and act. The single most important article on the whole Teflon scare appeared in the New York Law Journal - an analysis of how the EPA had shifted the goalposts on regulation to fine DuPont and what this meant for industry. This was hardcore stuff - but well-written.

Did the blogosphere spot that? No - too busy blogging or reading other blogs!

There were some brilliant blogging responses to Bobby Kennedy's outrageously irresponsible charge of a link between the MMR vaccine and Autism in Salon and Rolling Stone - but they hardly got any attention. Instead the Huffington Post blew this dangerous nonsense across the blogosphere, where it was repeated without any critical reflection.

The future is expert media. And experts who employ blogs as an ADJUNCT to their serious work MIGHT have some traction. The masses will have no media at all - or the opium of blogging's banalsphere!

Best - Trevor

Mon Feb 20, 09:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

"We only read people who say what we want to hear"

Eh? Surely there is nothing to stop me reading any blog I like - irrespective of whether I agree with them or not. And though some may simply seek corroboration of their own views, others will take account of a wide diversity of opinion in order to draw their own conclusions.

Or is that being naive?

As to the partisan nature of blogging, Orwell himself was highly partisan - the beauty (or sneakiness) of his style was to present a point of view as though it were plain common sense - and something that only a fool or politically motivated party liner would disagree with. Yet often he was simply stating things with no real justification whatsover (don't get me wrong, I like Orwell, but you can't gloss over his technique...)

And did he not contribute frequently to the Partisan Review? ;-)

Mon Feb 20, 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

In a reply to pieman earlier, I said most of ft.com’s discussions and blogs are behind the subscription barrier. Sorry, not true. They’re all free.

Graham Watts

Mon Feb 20, 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last you have told it like it is. Why read blogs at all. Far too many, far too little time. if I wanted to read some person's unbridled opinions, I would go for the op-ed in a newspaper.

Mon Feb 20, 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Hi Andrew -thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. You ask

"Surely there is nothing to stop me reading any blog I like - irrespective
of whether I agree with them or not. And though some may simply seek
corroboration of their own views, others will take account of a wide
diversity of opinion in order to draw their own conclusions.

Or is that being naive?"

In theory, if the blogosphere functioned as a virtual agora, one would be
exposed to multiple opinions; in practice, however, I think there is little
crossover. We are reaping the partisan whirlwind of the self-esteem
movement, which in America, seems to mean that people want to hear their
opinions confirmed rather than challenged.

When I was researching this piece, I all but stalked journalist and blogger Andrew Sullivan for comment. At a party in Washington, a friend asked me about my progress in tracking down Sullivan. There was a blank look from the other people I happened to be talking to - all mid-level policy wonks and
think-tankers. No-one knew who Andrew Sullivan was. So I said, "the
blogger." Still blank looks. Then I tried a more basic approach,
explaining what blogging was. I was interrupted, oh sure they knew what
blogs were, but they only read liberal/left ones.

It would have been one thing to not read Andrew Sullivan's blog (now under
the aegis of Time magazine), but to have never heard of one of the leaders of the blogging revolution? It's a bit like going to Tunbridge
Wells and finding that no-one had ever heard of the Guardian (ok - I know,
that's a risible analogy!)

Maybe that's just anecdotal evidence. But many commentators have noted that the B'sphere has produced more extreme political discourse for the niche extremes on the right and left. And neither side wants to snuggle up to the other around the virtual campfire wondering "what's it all really about
anyway?" !

Best - Trevor

Mon Feb 20, 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Kirby Warnock said...

Blogging is a combination of a daily newspaper and a TV station: Someone has to be there running it 24X7, and if you don't put out a good enough "show" you won't earn the Nielsen ratings.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Mon Feb 20, 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Eamonn Fitzgerald said...

Trevor, great timing! I mean New York mag has "The Blog Establishment" as its cover story and God knows who else is hammering the meme. (Oh, let's not forget Paul Reynolds at the BBC with "Bloggers: an army of irregulars"). Then the FT rounds it off by going all dismal. A big week for the MSM, then, but a big one for blogging, too.

BTW, if you feel entitled to ask bloggers how much they earn, bloggers should feel entitled to ask how much the FT paid you for the article.

Mon Feb 20, 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott Adams of Dilbert said it best:

People who are trying to decide whether to create a blog or not go through a
thought process much like this:

1. The world sure needs more of ME.
2. Maybe I’ll shout more often so that people nearby can experience the joy of knowing my thoughts.
3. No, wait, shouting looks too crazy.
4. I know – I’ll write down my daily thoughts and badger people to read them.
5. If only there was a description for this process that doesn’t involve the
words egomaniac or unnecessary.
6. What? It’s called a blog? I’m there!

The blogger’s philosophy goes something like this:

Everything that I think about is more fascinating than the crap in your head.

Mon Feb 20, 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jon Garfunkel said...

Graham-- thank you for taking the time to answer my question. It's something for you to think about, though. If you have a decent follow-up discussion system, then this would be such a time to show it off. Otherwise, great work keep track of all the comments. Jon

Mon Feb 20, 07:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Smith said...

Thanks for the reply Trevor.

You say: "We are reaping the partisan whirlwind of the self-esteem movement, which in America, seems to mean that people want to hear their
opinions confirmed rather than challenged."

Indeed. Seeking evidence to disprove one's viewpoint rather than constantly looking for things to back up what you want to believe is not as common as I'd like.

Then again, niche extremes on the right and left are unlikely to move from their positions, blogosphere or otherwise. At least the medium should afford an opportunity for others to challenge these views - perhaps we all need to some self confidence training to post one's views on a public blog ;-)

But not knowing who Andrew Sullivan is - depressing.

Tue Feb 21, 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger Bookfraud said...

The blogging "revolution" really is just a platform for bloviating folk (like myself) to rant and rave about life's many annoyances -- I'd bet that 90 percent or more of all blogs are online diaries ("Today, somebody pushed me as I got on a bus!" or "The kids are driving me crazy.")

These blogs have, at most a few hundred devoted readers, and that readership is usually predicated upon the physical appearance of the blogger or the lasciviousness of the content -- "Confessions of an Librarian ex-Stripper" or "My Sex Fantasies at the Office."

In other words, the 27.2 million or so blogs are not political rants or such, and have no pretentions of displacing . The dailykos and gawker and such can rarely move the public debate, because they truly do not engage in it -- as you noted, they are attracting readers who want their own views confirmed. And you read Andrew Sullivan and like folk, and it becomes obvious that they're writing for other bloggers -- other observers who want to be playas.

I don't see this replacing any media in which there's actual reporting involved.

Tue Feb 21, 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I don't know that any serious bloggers really believe blogging will replace traditional media. They do believe blogging helps keep some dishonest and biased journalists honest, however, or at least, finally, provide an alternative.

You say "The former Republican attorney general, Richard Thornburgh leading the internal CBS investigation into the scandal wasn't able to conclude whether the memos were fake or authentic," but I suspect you didn't read the appendix, which indicated they were, indeed, forgeries. That there are people in the media still under the impression that they could be legitimate documents says a lot about why blogs will continue to flourish. And while 62 percent of people may have no clue what a blog is, that doesn't mean the blogs have no influence on them. It would be interesting to do a six degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of study to see how often their friends and relations are passing on information that originally came from blogs.

Your anecdote about Andrew Sullivan is interesting, but it makes a point I believe you missed-Your acquaintances at that party only read left blogs, and only know of blogs from the left *because they are leftists.* Do you suppose that there are bloggers from the right who are in similar state of ignorance about who Kos is? I don't think so. I've read several smaller lefty blogs who complain of this tunnel vision on their own side- they point out that on the right side of the blogosphere, linking is freewheeling, generous, and the big bloggers actively encourage and promote the smaller blogs, whereas the big bloggers on the left are exclusive, stingy, and even rude to the smaller bloggers. One explanation of such discrepancies may be read here:

Lastly- as businesses, in the small homeschooling niche I've seen several blogs used successfully to promote small businesses and self-publishing ventures.

Tue Feb 21, 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Gray said...

As a psychologist I have to say that I am absolutely fascinated by the blogging phenomenon. I mean what does it say about us as a society that millions of us (myself included) are so drawn to a medium that in large part, as you pointed out, is little more a venue for voicing our opinions and for others to read them? 27 million? Incredible. All of your points in your article are valid. However, at the most fundamental level, it is the social and the emotional needs of *people* that have propelled this phenomenon into being. Those are also the needs that I believe are likely likely to keep the blogging momentum building unimpeded for some time to come.

Tue Feb 21, 08:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Jason Boog said...

Dear Trevor,

I loved the last half of "Time for the Last Post," it was a nice step beyond the "Look at the Crazy Blogosphere" molehill of features. I agree that the next big problem for media is figuring out how to survive in a world built around these impossible news cycles.

I was wondering what the Financial Time editorial staff thought about the lively discussion that this blog created. Do you think the "Last Post" article might generate more blog-style interaction with Financial Times readers?

Jason Boog

Tue Feb 21, 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

I enjoyed reading your article at lunch. I agree in its present form blogging is not going to replace the established media. However many see this only as "Web version 2.0". This movement has only just started and could take quite some time. But there are many possibilities. I think the question is what will the younger generation do with this technology, what will it mean to them. Society takes time to change and organisations like newspapers have time to adapt to new technology.

The ability to write is a skill. Blogs, for instance, have been used to write books; show me a writer that does not draft and review. If you had some of these comments before writing would you have written your article the same?

Blogs are what you make them to be, as is the world.

I don't get the relevance of Orwell or Marx. It’s not like a blog is a destructive noisy environment, or where you ironically illustrating the point of overblowing your article :-) . It’s a little bit like commenting on whether Marx would use a fountain-pen or a bic-biro given the choice--- people are products of their environment.

The blog is the medium.

If it's anything to go by I buy much less books than I did five years ago--- most information that I dip into is online, with annotation.

What is the norm for creating information heirarchies? If we're talking about turning data into knowledge then isn't this individual anyway. If I read an article I'd make my own judgements. Blogging is more like trading ideas. Creation often arises from mistake, mishearing etc...

Tue Feb 21, 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous ricardo said...

The article is well written and quite informative. But I think it asks an unfair question to some degree. How about the following: will the "blogosphere" be around in ten years? Surely the answer is yes, we just don't know the form.

If the point is that it will exist alongside mainstream media, hurray. That doesn't lessen its potential contributions. A couple points:

1. The blogosphere is in its infancy. By construction the world of blogging is immature. To compare it to a mature business is unreasonable, particularly if you don't offer some vision as to what blogs could become.

2. This is a dynamic problem. Today's world of blogs is not a binding constraint on the future - unless the gov't messes it up. With consumer feedback will come improvements. All that one needs to do for now is recognize the potential - that isn't difficult.

3. The transition to an equilibrium of a new business includes a lot of chaos. The world of blogs is about as close to a free market as we can get - low barriers to entry etc. It is not surprising that in the infancy the quality of the output is mixed.

4. I would encourage people to focus on one new issue and see what they learn from blogs. I was shocked by the wealth of intelligent discourse on the latest cartoon controversy, led mostly by academics.

5. The main challenge with blogs versus main media is that you become the editor/producer. The user is charged with the difficult task of organizing a lot of information. So long as you are intellectually curious, that's a good thing.

Tue Feb 21, 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Omaniblog said...

What a good article! I loved seeing it on the front page of the Magazine. I loved seeing 6 pages devoted to the issue. I enjoyed all your references and referees, especially Marx and Orwell.
But your key point: what was it? I think it goes like this:

Blogging is expanding exponentially. This means that there is no way the majority of blogs can be quality writing. Bloggers dash off their thoughts too quickly to make good sense with excellent style. So there will be little left over for future generations of readers.

Bloggers love themselves. They write to please themselves and they don't see their own weaknesses.

Blogging is like a vast table on which there is too much food laid out. If you try to eat it, you will be more likely to suffer indigestion than enjoy your meal.

On top of that there is no decent money to be made from blogging. Only the tiny few will make a living from it.

Print journalists, indeed other employed media journalists, are serious writers who work hard at their craft. It is in their structures that we will have to look for quality.

My view is that you haven't made one enlightening substantial point. But you have given us many wonderful phrases, especially your conclusion.

Once upon a time, there was one big newspaper, one big radio station, one central television station. Has it all been downhill since then? The market has indeed been niched to the ultimate extent. The blogger writes for his or her own satisfaction. Sharing the blog may be one of the features of the art, but most blogs attract a handful of readers. However, it is grand to see so many people writing, composing and reading their own stuff. The act of writing itself permits thinking to emerge. Fragile communities of thought flowering and living on the ledge of extinction.
Vive les bloggers.

But thank you and the FT for bring us out of the cupboard.

Tue Feb 21, 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger t.s. said...

Orin Kerr notes a WSJ article today on the influence of blogging on legal scholarship:


Tue Feb 21, 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Masouras said...

Thanks for the excellent article Trevor. I agree with you about the overhyping of blogs - but after all, silicon valley thrives on overhyping whatever keeps it alive...

On the subject of traffic, working for a major blog aggregator, I can tell you that less than 1% of the blogs generate 99% of the traffic.

You haven't touched though the personal aspect of blogs. Blogs that are written by close friends and family are vastly more interesting to me than other blogs (or traditional media).

Another aspect that is not discussed is that of "aggregation" Again, from a technology perspective, what is interesting is finding out the particular stories that interest a user/reader and delivering those to them. This aleviates the "information overload" problem that you mention.

Take care,

Tue Feb 21, 09:46:00 PM  
Blogger Simon Bidwell said...


great article. I agree with most of what you say: blogs are way overhyped, both as something “new”, and as a challenge to the role of the mainstream media. As you note, the economics are terrible at the moment, even for popular bloggers.

And yes, opinion has now become the new pornography. It’s a flea-on-flea feeding frenzy. And at some point there has to be some meat, so the likes of the New York Times will always be needed to generate some substance and act as an anchor for debates.

You wonder what the ability to blog might have done for writers like Orwell who were over-inclined to share their every impression and opinion. It’s true that the ease of publishing leads to an atomization of discourse, and acts against the discipline needed to write something half decent. Every blogger knows the pressure to keep content rolling in order to maintain even the small audience you might have (“post or perish”, you might say).

But I think your discussion is overall a little pessimistic. You look at blogs as a media phenomenon and conclude that they’re not the revolution they’re cracked up to be. But you pass a little lightly over the role they can have in holding the established media to account. The endless dissecting and deconstructing of news articles may get tiresome - but it’s better than just sucking up the scandal mongering and warmed-over press releases forwarded to us by the corporate press.

For the non-Europeans among us who were never able to sift through the erudite alternatives of the Times, The Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent, it’s exciting not to have to simply be passively instructed on “the issues” by an increasingly monolithic media establishment.

Also, though you discuss the LA Times’ disastrous wiki-torial, you don’t mention at all the great triumph of internet democratism: Wikipedia, which is reckoned to be as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and is infinitely more up-to-date and in tune with the zeitgeist. The Invisible Hand of the information market really works!

Is it all just pointless scribbling? Marx was obviously suffering from cabin fever when he grumbled of his and Engels’ journalism that “Ce n’est pas le guerre” – but there’s a flipside to being action-oriented. You can heroically struggle for years, but if no one ever documents it, did it really happen? If so, what did it mean?

I’ve recently been reading John Pilger’s collection of investigative journalism, which besides being heroic, inspiring stuff, gives an understanding of how difficult it can be to take an unpopular angle or uncover something that people have an interest in not knowing about.

It’s just possible that blogs could make this kind of writing easier. At least, they offer a medium for reporting and opinion which is fresher, more direct, more personal, perhaps more gonzo, than would fit within the constraints of most publications concerned with their advertisers and their circulation.

An example that comes to mind is Steven Vincent’s posts from Iraq (though tragically, he paid for what he wrote with his life). They had an immediacy not matched by anything I’ve seen in the standard media.

So, while blogs are not some revolutionary phenomenon that will render other media obsolescent, they shouldn’t just be dismissed as overheated chatter. At best they might provide a contribution to the truth not found elsewhere. And who knows – someone might even figure out a way to make money of them sometime.

Wed Feb 22, 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, headmistress/ zookeeper (!?), I had to attend to non-blogging affairs. Now you query me on those pesky Killian memos, and yes, I have not read the appendices
- save in the extracts printed in the Weekly Standard (CBS doesn't keep 'em with the actual report).

Now, as a point of textual criticism, the appendix can't prove anything - for if it did, then the actual report's conclusions wouldn't have been so equivocal as to the matter of their authenticity. Of course, this is why the Weekly Standard and various conservatives dubbed the Thornburgh investigation a whitewash. And it may well be that the report is next to useless. But it didn't prove the memos were fake.

Like many people following this issue in the mainstream news at the time, I was under the impression that an intrepid document expert had twigged what 60 minutes had been careless in checking. And then I read Corey Pein in Columbia Journalism Review who noted that the bloggers who broke memogate where Republican operatives with no more expertise in document analysis than Santa Claus.

And then I read Jonathan Alter's review of Mary Mapes "Truth and Duty" in the New York Times Book Review - here's the extract:

"The most illuminating parts of the book are those in which Mapes strikes back at the cyber-lynch mob. Her description of a right-wing veteran of the Paula Jones case, masquerading as an expert on the technology of 1970's typewriters, should help dispel the myth that this case was a triumph for the fact-checking prowess of the blogosphere. (The blogger's anonymous assertion, within hours of the broadcast, that the proportional spacing and type font of the Killian memos did not exist in those days was only one of many falsehoods spread by political hit men.) Seeing how documents change shape and appearance after faxing and e-mailing should give pause to even the most ideologically ardent of amateur document analysts."

Paul Farhi wrote something similar in the Washington Post.

So I read a large chunk of Mapes and came away with the following conclusion: yes, CBS screwed up mightily in running a story of such political import without cast iron guarantee that it was impregnable. But, the blogosphere - in its moment of convulsive reaction - had no more technical warrant to the certainty that the memos were fake than CBS had that they were authentic.

As memogate is often presented as a triumph for blogging, I think it's worth considering that the victors be held accountable to the same journalistic principles which brought about CBS's defeat. (And if someone says that "I'm missing the point" of blogging by demanding such principles, then hold this lit molotov cocktail while I "debate" you from well out of earshot).

Your second point about left-blogger lese majeste is VERY interesting, but I haven't really had time to think about it to offer a considered response - alas!

Thanks again for contributing.

Best - Trevor

Wed Feb 22, 01:16:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Dr Gray, salutations! Indeed it is fascinating why the diary, the journal, the scrapbook, have been displaced for some by an open house of the heart and mind.

Or really sad.

Is it a reaction to postmodern anomie - that rather than go bowling alone, one blogs alone, quietly hoping that someone out there will blog back? Or is it just scrapbooking (as it is popularly called in the U.S.) updated for the digitally (dis)empowered? Or a quixotically inefficient quest for celebrity?

Could be all of the above. But why not articulate a more generous analysis here Doc?

Best - T

Wed Feb 22, 01:18:00 AM  
Blogger FTMAGBLOG said...

Andy, hello.

I see the Web 2.0 vision in terms of the following analogy: never before in the history of human endeavor have so many people engaged in painting pictures. Technological innovations in the late 19th and 20th centuries mean that artists don't have to make their own paints. Precious and rare pigments have cheap synthetic replacements. How-to books, videos and dvds proliferate. There are more practical art courses than pictures on display in the National Galleries of London and Washington. No more pleading to enter an atelier.

Many of those participating in this phenomenon have produced work of commendable technical virtuosity; some of remarkable vision. A few thrive financially from their pursuits. But no-one calls this a revolution in the history of art. And little of the art that has been produced will endure to influence generations of future artists.

This may point to the democratic failings of cultural and political elites - a fundamental power grasp by the few with the conceptual means to set standards and the societal means to deny entry. Or maybe there's a gulf between what a guild practices and what hobbyists pursue. Though the membrane dividing high and low, professional and amateur may be permeable, I do not see Web 2.0 busting it wide open.

I'm being thrown out of my wifi'd cafe - so, I say, in summation, Yay! If blogging is your hobby, go for it. If Web 2.0 and beyond is your virtual MFA program, enjoy! I await astonishment at your future achievements. And now I must return to my real work.

Best - Trevor

Wed Feb 22, 01:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Editor

RE: FT WEEKEND MAGAZINE - FEATURE: Time for the last post

Your weekend article on blogs bears no resemblance whatever to the world I see when I go online. I've never visited a gossip blog at all. The blogs I visit are those whose contributors are lawyers, economists and other academics, media people of various sorts, and ordinary citizens representative of many other occupations. Some of these people write well and some don't, but the ones I read consistently have ideas that are worth thinking about, ideas that never would have seen the light of day if we were only allowed to read what the U.S. corporate media have dished up for our entertainment.

No human can possibly read or in any way absorb all the informational and disinformational material available to us now. I know it's a difficult concept to master, since so much of the modern world is based on the hierarchical Anglo-European style of people management, but there is a huge advantage in having many eyeballs patrolling the sources of information, many minds with many varieties of experience free to express their thoughts in an open forum, discussion that is not chosen and/or edited by people whose living may depend on not offending the powerful.

Since 2000, the editors of BuzzFlash.com, Democrats.com, Democratic Underground, and I, at my own website, MakeThemAccountable.com, have worked tirelessly to fight the insanity of the right wingers who have taken over the United States. We began before blog software was prevalent, and only Democrats.com has switched to the blog format. We are often overlooked by the newcomers, to many of whom political commentary on the Internet was born in 2002 or later.

Some of the blogs I read depend on the corporate media for stories as a basis for commentary, as mentioned in your article, but some do original research. Has your writer never visited The Brad Blog or The Raw Story? Your article claims that there is no investigative reporting among bloggers, so I suppose he has never been to Consortiumnews.com (in business since 1995) or Truthdig (a new addition to the Internet) or the soon to be launched TPM Muckraker.

Who has the time or the interest to slog through government economic reports? Not me. That's why I read Paul Krugman at The New York Times, but I also read Brad DeLong and The Angry Bear.

Maybe since your reporter works for a non-American newspaper, he's not familiar with how our media kowtow to powerful people, refusing to call them on their obvious lies and hypocricies. If we didn't have blogs such as Crooks and Liars, Daily Kos, Americablog, Firedoglake, Hoffmania, Blah3, and many others, we might never know about the latest assaults on truth, and we certainly wouldn't know the details. We assuredly wouldn't have the audio and video evidence. None of us individually would have the resources to dig up the stories and the quotes from the past that often totally debunk what's being said currently.

The U.S. government's attempts to propagandize the American people, with the cooperation of the U.S. mainstream media, have almost reached the levels of insanity reached in the last years of the Soviet Union. Soviet citizens interested in the truth had their samizdat, and we Americans have our blogosphere. And don't tell me I can't call it that just because some blogger says I can't.

History will show whether truth or PR will win in the long run. Because of the Internet, I'm betting on truth.

On my website, I do a daily summary of the political news from blogs and the mainstream media. Maybe your reporter should read my daily postings for a while, and then write another, less superficial, article on blogs.

Carolyn Kay

The version of this post that I sent to help@ft.com has links in it.

Wed Feb 22, 04:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for the reply and the interesting analogy. I have to admit to not viewing this as a revolution either. I find it interesting that you posted your response from an internet cafe. My view of these Web 2.0 technologies is they are playing catch-up. They are responding to a cultural need, the revolution for many people is already here. They no longer log on from a single machine in the office--- they login on holiday, on their mobile, at work, at home. Doesn't it make sense that workspaces and applications reside on the network rather than locally.

I don't think the social implication have been fully realised by some. I had a conversation recently about ID cards for instance, I asked a neighbour who was considerable older. He was against them. He suggested that there is a change of ownership that a citizen owns the state. His view was that the state held records on criminals not on law abiding citizens. But don’t we frequently trust anonymous people on the net every day with personal details? Whether we like it or not Blogging is part of a change in society. Writing your journal on line contributes to rapidly growing trends.

You analogy illustrates something else, how the word revolution is used pragmatically. I’m no art historian, but I can’t remember hearing about any revolution in painting; movements maybe. Outside of a political sphere I’m not exactly sure what a revolution means. To be relativist, it depends on your profession, who you are and where you live. Revolution, grass-roots and these terms given the proliferation of the news are more recently viewed with bad political movements; does that in itself make “revolution” grate against the ears. For me as I use this technology every day it’s been a progression. But the advent of technologies like Blogging, AJAX and Flock— are the biggest noticeable change for many years. For once many are agreeing a direction and moving on to write applications that use that technology.

What role does the internet play for dissonant Islamic groups and terrorism?

As to this not being work, I intend to get paid in this technology. The ideas and concepts in the feeds I use are directly relevant to my job— it means I don’t buy books. I know people who’s blogs and wiki’s help them get jobs. In fact someone here was employed the other day because he’d laid out his stall on the web. It could well be the future for the knowledge worker. Blogs and Wikis are used in some progressive organisation as knowledge management tools--- to focus on production of software rather than documentation. More office suites are appearing as online applications--- perhaps you’re right to a degree in blogging disappears into an Online Office as a journal feature…

Perhaps technology is getting more artistic, design is increasingly being employed at all levels of technology. What young person a decade ago would list a computer store in London in their list of sites (unless they were an ubergeek)? Yet my brother told me about a recent stag weekend that included the apple store in it’s list of sites. This is not the first time that I’ve heard it’s a top location for the twenty-somethings. The cult of the iPod? Will Blogging Revolution be soon replaced my Blogging Evolution?

Incidentally do people generally see podcasts and Blogs being equivalent; just not in text form? It would seem to me that the same arguments apply. Does the video podcast ultimately change the broadcast industry?

Respect, Andy.

Wed Feb 22, 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger Banba said...

Interesting article.

Until our culture and economic structure converts to paying people for their ideas (on blogs) rather than JUST their goods (via paper print/books or public appearances)...I feel we will not see blogs 'change the world'. However, I, for one, am more hopeful than you seem to be.

Before the advent of widespread print media (in early America there were few printing presses), regular people would travel to attend the only source of information available to them - public lectures. The dialogue that this opened up to the early american pioneers transformed the western world: civil rights, feminism, and modern-day western democracy all arose out of these forums.

I believe that the internet is mirroring the early days of America - yet we are just at the beginning.

We, globally now, are just like America in 1776. Except now we hold our forums in a public lecture hall called the internet.

I don't think any of us can predict where this dialogue will take us.

I am hoping world peace is involved in the outcome. And a healthier planet for our progeny. From the information available readily at our fingertips on this public forum called the internet, my concerns are the only ones we really should care about at this point in history.

And for anyone needing convincng that the internet is the new public forum, one need only contemplate this article. MSM and politicans continue to ignore the democratic leveller called the internet. I think the next revolution will be podcasted.

Wed Feb 22, 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Pradeep said...

A nicely written and comprehensive article. I am a journalist (chief copy editor) with a leading national newspaper here in India. And, I have a blog too. For me, it is an instant medium for expression of random thoughts on various subjects of my interest.

Since the medium is not at all regulated, one needs to take its contents with a pinch of salt. Especially those which are anonymous and which have no proper source for information contained therein. How much they are true representations of public sentiment is a question. Their credibility is that much reduced.

But there are of course credible blogs. I guess there must be more of them, well documented. So, they become good reference points.

Another point is that blogs being in the public domain, bloggers must take a little more care while expressing their views. But then, absence of any moderation is perhaps what makes blogs lively and vibrant.

Wed Feb 22, 11:28:00 AM  

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