Jean Dublog

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Deepening the Debate or Simple Pandering?

Thank god, I thought it was just me. So many of these political blogs have stylistic differences but little to truly make them stand out for originality or insight. As noted, many of these political blogs do use more vivid language, fast research and quick takes on the topics du jour. But I'm not seeing a richer debate; it's all about satisfying the ravenous hunger of an increasingly polarized and venomous political culture. Blogs with the sharpest arrows and deadliest aim are most likely to fit into the linking network of like-minded partisan pundits.

Just as Watergate spawned a new generation of journalist wanna-be's, Rathergate and a handful of smaller blog-exposes have bred poison-pen blogs focused on picking the bones clean of the most trivial political news; they are legion, and they are largely uninteresting -- unless you want to have your anger validated and confirmed. The political climate is thunderous enough to stir the emotions of even the mildest political apprentice. These linking networks offer a way to feel like a part of the fracas, blogeeks in gang colors.

More interesting, in some ways, is the Flu Wiki, which may seem at a glance like a jumble of information but which really shows a cyber-community coming together to truly broaden a discussion. There is no need to do focus groups or surveys to determine what content is most meaningful to users because the users are in the driver's seat. The content here is so rich and multi-dimensional, from discussion forums and brainstorming hubs to expert predictions and factual charts.

What's going on, it seems to me, is an attempt to exert influence, if not control, over the flow of information and on a potential crisis itself. Ever distrustful of official sources, certainly since the armed feds tried to hunt down ET, we can share information and resources as a community of similarly focused verminophobes. The need to share and tap into conventional wisdom is as old as folk or home remedies themselves. Here it satisfies the yearnings of vast communities more connected by Internet networks than by shared property lines. The experts are here, too, but this collaborative project has produced an amazingly diverse resource.


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