19 January 2005

Into the Blogosphere

I recently came across an interesting essay on blogs titled Into the Blogosphere that examines the potential impact of weblogs on the public sphere. Using a model put forth by Habermas, the author concludes that weblogs are, in a sense, an idealized public sphere since they provide inclusive access, a disregard for external rank, and the potential for rational debate. The author goes on to discuss a number of the blogosphere's drawbacks: i.e. the time commitment required top build a reputation (leading to an over-representation of journalists and others who have an "in"), the influence of personal networks and of so-called A-list bloggers, and the inability of current ranking technologies to take account of negative appraisals of sites to which one links. The author seems to see the blogosphere's salvation in more democratically incline search-engines.

Personally, I don't think any search engine will ever be entirely fair, nor should we rely on some centralized technology to determine what we read. Rather the development of lateral networks (in other words, personal links) are the best way to promote a healthy public sphere. With this in mind, I encourage everyone to take time to create their own links via other weblogs' links and not to simply link to the "top" bloggers or to blogs listed prominently on blog ranking sites.


dailyread said...

This article seems to address one main issue, but it carries a lot of information to digest.
There are limitations in ability and know-how that dictate how a weblog is presented, but the important aspect of the debate in the public sphere is content.

The author states that some weblogs reflect "purely personal interest" which may be outside the political/legal, art/culture, and science/technology areas he has chosen to deal with in his essay. I have to think that all areas are required to reflect purely personal interest in the blog world... or the writer would have chosen something else to discuss.

I tend to agree with most of the essay, but am not yet familiar with the drawbacks...except the time commitment, and I approach that as I do most things...another opportunity to learn something new.

I think the public debate is affected at a more local level than we would most times like to think. The majority of participants likely enter the fray with pre-conceived notions about politics and/or religion. Other topics of discussion are presented more in a way of sharing skills and abilities with anyone interested.

I agree with you that the linked community should be via our desire to share what we see as interesting enough to repeatedly visit. I do visit some of the major blogs and will undoubtedly link to some, but I will attempt to develop an interested and interactive readership by sharing what intersts me. I will also investigate the links in the blogrolls of the places I enjoy visiting.
There are so many great thoughts, concepts and places to see that we would individually miss most of them were it not for those sharing on their posts. Book Crossing is a prime example.

Jimmy Ho said...


I never got to thank you directly for blogrolling me. I really appreciate that; by doing so, you become one of my personal Fab Four (the others being Sheelzebub, Ms. Lauren and Roxanne).
However, I have now decided to delete my blog, Zhengming 正名.
I am preparing an announcement chainmail explaining some of the reasons for that, but I can't find any email address on your page.
Could you please give it to me here in the comments or by email (there is a link on my Blogger Profile page), because I have to include it before I send the mail?
Thank you in advance.