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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peasants Don't Blog

Do yourself a favor and read this QandO post covering the MSM trying to reassure itself that bloggers don't matter. Perlmutter tops the list:
First, are bloggers truly "the people"? Bloggers tend to come from the higher-education and higher-income portion of the population. This is as true in Egypt or Nigeria as it is in the United States. Peasants don't blog. Not yet, anyway. And the same studies that attest to their popularity show more people have never even heard of them.
You could certainly say the same of mainstream journalists, right? So is the fact that bloggers might not be out toiling in the fields exactly relevant as to their influence? Read this post - I ended up rolling on the floor at the stuffy hypocrisy.

There's a serious side of it too. As McQ writes:
Because blogs are free, a real meritocracy exists with readers rewarding the best with their readership. Unlike those who are given one choice for a newspaper in many towns, the readers of blogs have literally millions from which too choose. And that readership tends to be heavily weighted in the top 100 blogs.
But even this understates the influence of blogs. The best blogs are people talking to other people about what they are observing and thinking about. This is why they are so valuable. There is a huge pool of information readily available to the individual through blogs, and people are taking advantage of it. Blogs incorporate a directness, honesty, intelligence and transparency that we rarely get from the big newspapers any more.

Because blogs exist, if I want to I can find out a huge range of facts about almost any topical issue. I can directly ask people in a number of different fields with different backgrounds questions. The online forums and blogs have become an incredibly useful tool with which to find information that is very relevant to my immediate concerns. Newspapers simply aren't doing that for me.

This is a democracy of information which will change the political map of the world.

I have to question the quality of Perlmutter's intellect when he says, "Bloggers tend to come from the higher-education and higher-income portion of the population. This is as true in Egypt or Nigeria as it is in the United States." Here's what it takes to blog: the ability to read and write, a computer, an internet connection, and freedom to express your thoughts. That means his statement comparing Egypt and Nigeria to the U.S. is self-evidently wrong. From what I can see, active, non-commericial bloggers are not limited disproportionately to elite classes. They are, however, most likely to come from enlighted free societies such as the U.S., Canada, Britain, Europe, etc. The reasons are obvious.

The problem the media has with blogs is that many people have freed themselves from the monopoly the media used to have on news and opinion. That can only be good.
Tom - I agree with you on the monopoly issue. And I also agree with you about bloggers not being an elite.

I am seeing more and more bloggers from all over the world, which is an encouraging sign.

What's not encouraging is the growing effort by some countries to suppress their bloggers - for example China and some in the ME.

Still, I see this eventually as becoming a real force for peace and international cooperation. Eventually different teams of cross-national bloggers will combine to work on problems. And that's good, because we don't seem to be doing too well with institutions like the UN. Their workers often accomplish a lot, but their administrative arm seems hidebound and unresponsive.
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