According to bloggers, if you don’t blog you are being left behind. Each day thousands more blogs appear online as our society continues an obsession with disclosing their inner most thoughts to a global audience. Bloggers generate masses of unedited web content each day about life, politics and everything. But are bloggers the new public commentators set to change the world?
Despite the rumours, blogging isn’t a demonstration of a connected global community. It’s an example of the isolation and lack of real community in our world. Each blog is like a cry for the validation of one’s existence. You are not a real person in this world unless you appear in a Google search.
More formal blogging styles commentate on politics and advocate for change based on Internet research that is validated by tens or hundreds of hyperlinks. A form of referencing that renders footnotes archaic.
Tim Dunlop, whose blog The Road to Surfdom stands out among the millions of online diaries, believes blogging is a new form of democracy. He has argued it increases citizen participation. His paper, "If you build it they will come: blogging and the new citizenship", excitedly claims bloggers as the new public intellectuals.
Tim sees blogging as a new way for debate and discussion over policy that allows for many more voices to have their say. Bloggers are participatory citizens, not stagnant voters. “Democracy needs a bit of amateur rough-and-tumble to get its juices flowing … in an age where politicians increasingly hide behind media experts and image consultants”, he says.
To a degree he is right that bloggers are making an impact. Australian blogger Tim Blair now writes regularly for The Bulletin. Journalists are more frequently citing bloggers - especially as blogs pop up in war zones, documenting in real time, the tragic events of human and natural disaster.
Even, politicians are turning to the blogosphere at election time as part of their campaign strategy.
“Online communities suit the desire of many people these days to participate in politics without committing large amounts of time or abiding by the scheduling disciplines of old-style party activities,” Trevor Cook wrote recently on New Matilda.
In a conference paper (posted on his blog), Cook also promotes blogging as the “new journalism” that is highly democratic: “Blogging offers the enticing prospect of a new journalism which is more participatory, more responsive and essentially open to anyone who has something to say.”
There is no doubt the more people who decide blogging will have an influence on our world the more likely it will.
Cook qualifies the blogging democracy by acknowledging that the majority of bloggers don’t desire to have an influence on much at all. He is interested in watching how the blogosphere matures. Which is appropriate because the average Joe Blog will be lucky to attract much of an audience at all.
The blogs that Dunlop regards as having an influence have it because the author is already high profile, offers a unique perspective or garners significant attraction from mainstream media services.
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