Friday, January 28, 2005

Don't oversell the blog

In a wonderful piece in Slate, Jack Shafer puts some of the hype around blogs into perspective. He writes:
The danger of fetishizing a new technology (the Porta-Pak) or a new media wrinkle (the blog) is obvious: In the rush to define the new new thing and celebrate its wonders, the human tendency to oversell kicks in. Am I the only one who remembers how John Perry Barlow, drunk on the Web nine years ago, issued his ridiculous "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace"? In hyperbolic fashion, Barlow wrote, "We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before." Lenin subscribed to this sort of technological moonbeamism when he declared that socialism plus electricity would equal communism, and we know where that led.

Well, the bit about Lenin was overstating the case slightly, but I agree with Shafer – blogs are no threat to established journalism, but just another medium of it, with advantages no other medium can offer. Blogs complement rather than endanger other forms of journalism.

(For more of my views on this, hop over to India Uncut and read "Blogs – The New Journalism".)

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