The end of blogs
I didn’t think Tom Tomorrow had it in him, but damn if he hasn’t posted the most profound inside blogball thought of this brief year so far.
Blogs are to the internet as Mr. Moviephone is to the telephone network. They’re a spinoff, sometimes useful, sometimes annoying, but not all that big a deal in the scheme of things either way. And in a few years, they’ll be utterly mundane, and it will seem ludicrous that anyone ever wrote articles about them, held conferences to discuss them. The impact of the blogs is probably at its peak right now. These days, if a blog shines a spotlight on some minor media mishap, and a couple hundred blog readers send outraged emails, that’s more feedback than most media types are used to getting, and it gets their attention (one of the great secrets of the media being how little feedback they usually receive). But once everyone adjusts to the new reality, those couple hundred emails will mean nothing more than the couple dozen letters that might have physically come in over the transom in the old days. Blogs will become mundane, and expectations will be accordingly adjusted–and a couple dozen bloggers whining, or a couple hundred emails from blog readers flooding an inbox, will simply not have the impact they have today.
You know what? This is exactly right. Blogs are an evolution of the internet-based communication that started with The Well in the 1980s. Whereas The Well was mostly self-contained and self-concerned, blogs by their bottom-up nature are nodes in an expanding community. Participants in The Well could raise money for a cause (like getting a community member out of hock) or spread a forgotten news item – so, on a massive scale can blogs. Blog fundamentalists (cough Hugh Hewitt cough) like to talk about blogs replacing “mainstream media,” but they need to media to survive – how else will they get stories to criticize, and how else would the blogs themselves get noteriety without it?
What about the idea of blogs becoming mundane? I think we’re already there. Case in point … this weekend, Instapundit did one of his posts linking to a crazy left-wing professor and tut-tutting about how the Democrats must deal with such people before right-thinking Americans ever think of rejoining their party. Lots of people link to it and argue. There’s two punchlines.
The first punchline – Glenn does this every week.
The second punchline – It’s about what said professor wrote on September 12, 2001. Three years and four months ago.
There’s increasingly little under the blogosphere sun – at least, certainly, the political blogosphere. It’s bitch, bitch, carp and wish doom upon thine foe. Apart from a deteriorating civility (remember when Instapundit LIKED Oliver Willis?) I don’t see how it’s changed since before the Iraq war.
It’s worth considering that the blog revolution is over and we’ve all just found a new Usenet board. And it’s worth bracing to consider that the product of blog triumphalism will be … more mainstream media pundits.
So, maybe not the best revolution ever.