Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ten Years of the Blogosphere

The "weblog" was first introduced in 1997, according to this really fascinating article today in the Wall Street Journal. The editors gathered a dozen prominent academic, government, media, and online personalities to comment on this 10th "blogiversary." It's quite a diverse groups the paper's assembled. Surprisingly, one of the best comments was from actress Mia Farrow, who blogs at

When my daughter came to me crying because the school newspaper refused to print one of her articles, I said: Why not start your own paper?

Unfiltered publishing was once the exclusive domain of media moguls, but today, who needs Rupert Murdoch? Blogging has become a publishing equalizer that was scarcely dreamed of years ago. It's free, you don't need editors or publishers, you don't even need to be able to write well.

Last year, I followed my own advice. I started I am my own toughest critic, and I can't say the acceptance rate for my pieces is vastly improved, but the only person I have to convince that an article is worth publishing is the editor in chief: me. (When a piece is posted, the entire staff is elated.)

It is through this experience that I've come to appreciate the purity and power of blogging. I have appeared in more than 40 movies, written a book and given countless interviews on TV, radio and in print. Yet none of this has allowed me to spotlight issues important to me as completely as my blog.

I was less impressed with Jane Hamsher, the founder of FireDogLake. Hamsher was touting the liberal blogosphere, trying to score cheap partisan points in denouncing the Bush administration, saying basically that the press had given Republicans the pass in the Plame leak affair:

Probably nothing better contrasts the pre- and postblogospheric worlds than the Whitewater and CIA leak stories. In one, the endless repetition of meaningless gibberish was allowed to take root and become conventional wisdom. In the other, despite the constant reiteration of abject fantasies like "no underlying crime was committed," the public seemed to realize that it's not okay to perjure yourself in front of a grand jury and obstruct justice on behalf of your boss. Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was allowed to try his case in court before GOP spinmeisters could try it in the press, and a recent Gallup poll shows that 66% of the country thinks Bush should've left Scooter alone to do his time.
"Meaningless gibberish"? Yeah, right! Hamsher should be compared to Newt Gingrich -- no softy himself -- who actually applauded the vitality of the left bloggers, who have spiced up accountability in the political system:

Web sites such as Daily Kos and -- which I find fascinating as models of online activism -- have made it quite clear that their aim goes beyond stopping President Bush; they're also targeting leaders in their own party viewed as unresponsive to the grassroots. Sen. Joe Lieberman's primary loss is the most visible example.
Jim Buckmaster, who is the CEO at Craigslist, made a really good point about getting alternative information via blogs:

Corporate media provide saturation coverage, but often manage to leave all the most interesting bits for bloggers, such as what our government is actually trying to accomplish by occupying Iraq (, what Iraqis think about the occupation so far (,, how our soldiers feel about it (, and how taxes being appropriated for it are being doled out (

Buckmaster's links are just a tad on the lefty side, but the WSJ also interviews Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner, a U.S. military spokesman in Iraq. Bergner lists a few milblogs of interest, including, Small Wars Journal, Blackfive, and Mudville Gazette. Be sure to check the links out, especially for some up-close-and-personal war reporting you won't get in the MSM.

Probably the most off the wall comments in the article are provided by Tom Wolfe, the famous novelist of contemporary America. Wolfe doesn't read blogs, or at least he stopped reading them. Blogs are apparently too hearsay for him, a "universe of rumors" in fact. But read Wolfe's comments for yourself. He's hard to beat for crustiness, and just think, I've actually enjoyed reading some of his fiction lately!

If anything, read -- and even bookmark -- the WSJ article. There's lots of links, and most of personalities interviewed note which blogs are their favorites. I haven't had a chance to check out all the links yet, although I did visit
Digby's Blog, and even left a little comment to shake up that liberal echo chamber a bit!

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