Wednesday, February 15, 2006
So I have repeatedly been attracted to the blogosphere and repeatedly been repelled. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Michele Montas an award winning journalist and widow of Jean Dominique (Agronomist 2003) (thank you SCOR for a kick ass conference). In discussing the role of media and the potential for an authentic critical voice, she suggested that one area of prospect and hope were blogs. Now I usually look at blogs for people's takes on news, after all they are not verifiable, and there is no quality control, but I had often put blogs off as a lot of bang for a little buck. To hear her mention them as a tool of critique, I really had to rethink this blogging thing. It's commonly acknowledged that a finite number of people control the stories we read and hear on the news. When I was younger, that frightened me, now it just pisses me off!
One of the first issues with blogging as revolutionary would be the digital divide. Even though in the last ten years access to the internet has increased greatly in public spaces (i.e. libraries, coffee shops, even McDonald's and KFC) there are still a number of folks who are without access to the internet. There are of course a number of barriers. If you aren't computer literate, blogs are about as much an option as me walking onto the Pistons. With that said, I have found a lot of blogs out there that deal with issues of race, class and gender that make me hopeful that not just rich white men are in the blogosphere. Not that I have anything against rich White men, but controlling all the media is just not playing fair ;) Even as blogging becomes more common and people have more options on blogging software there is the inevitable issues of voice and silence come up. There are plenty of company blogs, wikis, and other variations that exist to help people their ideas out to the masses. Some of my good friends blog for comedic relief, political jousting, and even as a reflection of their work experiences. Which lead me to thinking about the lines between formal and informal blogging. Granted, blogging is rather informal by definition but ther are a number of ways blogs can be used. Is it constructed to be an alternative to the news? Is it a personal reflection? Or is it something you can use to cover your ass if you mess up on an official publication? I guess it can be all of those, but I personally want them to be radical and critical... enter my bias.
So how do people get to your blog? How do people connect to your ideas? How can you know you're going to find the information you want from the sources you trust? It's hard to come by. People get to blogs through so many different ways, but still there is no formal way of categorizing them. I have taken notice of Technorati's work, but trust me, I'm sure 9 out of 9, I mean 10 people don't know about Technorati and are still using google to enter the blogosphere. Unfortunately the more we categorize, sanitize, and organize the less power the blog may have. But on the other hand, the 1 bajillion blogs that exist can't possibly be what we need.
In closing, while talking with Ms. Montas one of my friends asked her for her favorite blogs. I sat there waiting, waiting to hear from a woman who knew the power of media and had been doing it for so many years...Unfortunately she never revealed her sources. So I'm still looking for something revolutionary, if it will come in the form of a blog is yet to be seen.
p.s. If you'd like to hear Haunani-Kay Trask's keynote from the SCOR conference click here.
p.p.s. It's really annoying that blogger's spell check always comes up with "blog" as a word spelled incorrectly.