BLOGGING AS A NETWORK OF INFLUENCEDan
had an interesting post reflecting on his victory over Nationmaster after numerous blogs
began piling on in his defense. Quoting from an article on the recent flap over Sony's XCP debacle, Dan posted ( quote in italics; Dan in regular text):" 'It seems crystal clear that but for the citizen journalists, Sony never would have done anything about this," says Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation
, a cyber liberties advocacy group that has been vocal in its condemnation of Sony and may eventually file a a lawsuit against Sony, in addition to three that have already been filed. "It's plain to me that it was Sony's intent to brush the story under the rug and forget about it."Alan Scott, chief marketing office at business information service Factiva, said, "I think that we're in an entirely new world from a marketing perspective. The rules of the game have changed dramatically. The old way of doing things by ignoring issues, or with giving the canned PR spin response within the blogosphere, it just doesn't work.'Without blogs, rough-shod corporations and politicians like Activa Holdings and Chris Welch could even get away with harmful lawsuits without any consequences.The Citizen-Media, also known as the blogosphere, is an important leveler, extending connectivity to those other than the Main-Stream Media and the Main-Stream Corporations"
In my view Dan is correct but he has not taken his analysis nearly far enough. In fairness though, the premise that the blogosphere is the power of vox populi incarnate is shared by the bicoastal media elite who look on with as much horror and loathing as Dan does admiration and wonder. The everyman is really irrelevant here and if Dan was only an everyman he'd have received a subpeona from NationMaster's corporate shyster squad by now.
The number of blogs in existence is currently estimated at about 60-70 million plus
. Most are admittedly, mind-numbing dreck written by 13 year old girls, spamblogs and mercifully short-lived experiments in public whining by twentysomethings in bad relationships - but that still leaves tens of millions of sober, rational bloggers, trying to get noticed. Out of that unruly horde - a larger than many nation-states - tdaxp is # 999 on the planet
! Think about the Social Darwinian implications of that stement. Any blogger who is, with regularity, interesting enough to be in the top 5000 is above the common herd.
For example, my blogroll contains: enough PhD's to fill several departments at a large university, including one Nobel Prize winner; two nationally known defense intellectuals; several physicists; other scientists; a number of legal experts; an eminent federal judge, numerous historians; combat veterans; several journalists at medium sized city newspapers, including one editorial page editor; diplomats; computer/IT experts, a professional economist; linguists and at least one philosopher. A fair amount of collective brainpower by any measure.
The blogosphere does not
empower the average person, it empowers the above average person who previously would - by chance, occupation or geography - have been excluded from having any siginificant input into the larger culture. The centralized old media of the big three networks by and large took their cue from the editorial page New York Times, as did the metropolitan newspapers of a hundred smaller cities. The Eastern Establishment truly shaped public opinion once upon a time. A few voices carried then - Walter Lipmann, Joseph Alsop, Walter Cronkite, Ben Bradlee, "Punch" Sulzberger - there were others but it was a pretty damn short list. The Establishment's superficially diversified heirs still shape the debate to a considerable extent but with two significant changes:
a) They have lost their monopoly on the determination of the bounds of acceptable public discourse
b) The very bright or accomplished citizens- formally just isolated local influencers -who might never have met prior to the blogosphere, being scattered throughout the nation( or the world) now connect and form durable networks. Left or Right, this cultural "outlier elite" rejects much of what the MSM elite has to offer.
The blogosphere is an aggregator of intelligence and influence. Primarly, for the moment, blogging is an amusement for these talented individuals but when they are threatened or offended they can respond with surprising speed and intensity. Just ask John Kerry or Dan Rather. Or Trent Lott. They are not the general public which is why the corporate P.R. routine and bigshot bluster backfires so badly with bloggers.
Eventually, some shortsighted fool in the Federal government will make some arrogant gesture that will really outrage these potential leaders and all the latent strength and ability will crystallize as a blogospheric party
- an organized faction that will be energized enough to create a political upheaval on par with 1932 or 1980.
Wait and see.