Friday, April 16, 2004

Blogging - Random

I heard an interesting discussion on air this morning about weblogging. Guests on air included some people I have never heard of before this week; Jay Rosen, Lee Rainie and Rebecca Blood.

So, here are my novice thoughts about weblogging, disagree if you like. Blogging is a medium of reciprocal exchange. It does not replace other forms of media. What it does often do is enrich & bring together other forms of media, sometimes intentionally but more often then not I suspect accidentally. The experienced and inexperienced are free to mix and sometimes even do; age, gender, ethnicity, web experience, income and dress sense at times mysteriously dissolving online. Bloggers share ideas, info & technical support. They express, entertain, air dissent and lapse into embarrassing bouts of poetry. Most bloggers do all this absolutely for free, and increasingly for the sake of freedom itself.

I have heard discussions before about current public scepticism for traditional forms of media. This scepticism is perhaps traditional in itself. In 1945 Osmar White, a journalist traveling through occupied Germany, encounters a similar scepticism in, of all people, a population that is traditionally described as compliant and thought of as media malleable. This from a sheet metal worker he spoke with at the time;

Q; Did you ever listen to British radio?
A; Sometimes. Everybody did.

Q; Did you believe what you heard?
A; It was propaganda. There was more truth in it then the newspapers. But it was only propaganda.

Q; Then it didn't make much difference one way or the other?
A; No. We listened only to find out what was going on.

....

Q; Then you didn't believe even in German propaganda?
A; No it was only propaganda.

Cynicism is perhaps a survival mechanism, and bloggers can be found critiquing themselves as much as they critique other forms of media. That is not to say all bloggers are twisted, distrustful, malcontents - some are disarmingly honest & reveal vulnerabilities that are humbling. Others would probably be ringing talkback radio if they didn't have blogs.

Personally, I believe that some traditional forms of media have become far more conscious, accountable and exploratory then they have been in a long time. I suspect blogging is part of a wider spontaneous consciousness which is also occurring in other traditional forms of media.

Blogs, if nothing else, are artifacts of our time. In the same way that a 2000 year old broken pottery shard tells us about the life of someone 2000 years ago, so does a blog tell us about life today. From the teenager who tells us he is babysitting his younger sister while she pesters him at his keyboard, to media heavyweights, to journalists who write for paper publications and on personal blogs, to people blogging from war zones. Yes, it is risky, yes, it is worth it, and yes, anybody can do it. (Even with a beaten up second hand pc and intermittent internet connection).

Now, enough about my ideas, there are other blogs to read.

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