The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Just where does the blogging phenomenon go from here? There's no shortage of opinion, particularly with the recent Google-Blogger news. Here's a pretty good overview of what's what currently.

"Productization" (or more properly, "monetization", as in "money") is a normal step in the development of any media. Back a hundred years ago, cinema and radio both went through essentially the same process, moving from curiosities that a small handful of enthusiasts messed with to large-scale affairs. It was common, for example, for organizations like churches and granges to own and operate their own low-level radio stations right through the 1920s. Regulation and consolidation then put an end to all that microbroadcasting (although this is now changing somewhat).

This, of course, assumes that blogging represents the birth of some sort of new medium. While that view is shared widely by blogging evangelists, it's not one I subscribe to. All that blogging represents is an easier, automated way to establish an online notebook. What goes into that notebook is up to the whim of the user, and let's face it, the majority of blogs out there are nothing but diaries that are of questionable reading value, at least for a wide audience. While I don't think anyone should be required to compose a blog focusing on timely matters or even though-provoking ideas, there's something to be said in hoping for more substance out of the blogosphere.

What amazes me is that the most enthusiastic blogging proponents actually view a blog as a credible news source, no matter what. This has got to be the same mentality that relies on corporate press releases for all their news information from a company--never mind that a PR department isn't going to air any dirty laundry. To me, this is akin to trusting the veracity of some schmoe walking down the street. If he gives you some crap piece of information, you have no way of knowing if he's a liar or not, and shouldn't expect any assurance from him anyway. That's blogs. They're hobbies for most people, and so there's no real compelling reason for the authors to be accountable. This is why those who are at all serious about delivering some sort of news do so by linking to--ta da!--traditional news media, like the oft-criticized newspapers. If blogs are supposed to displace newspapers and other journalist vehicles, then where exactly will the reportage come from? I guarantee you no blog writer is going to go out and dig, trying to get quotes and so on, to get an actual substantial view of a story. That's a full-time job, i.e. journalism.