. . . Tuesday March 8, 2005

Quantum Blogging: A Theory of Everything

Not satisfied with the answers provided by the micro-world, physicists, in this golden age of science, have set out to come up with a theory of everything.

It’s a pretty big, if somewhat lofty, goal.

But those of us who consider ourselves part of what is today being called the blogosphere (And make no mistake, that includes anyone who damn well wants to be included. Membership is not reserved for those with a certain level of traffic or the self-appointed A-listers.) are all too familiar with the goal of coming up with a theory about everything. In truth, the mad rush to answer the latest questions about the role of bloggers is really only a consideration of a thin layer of what is the blogging universe.

The conversation today is largely about the role of bloggers as journalists, or as it’s more often described, bloggers vs journalists. Businessweek hits on that topic in light of the Apple case while Kurt Anderson ponders the future of the blogging medium in New York Mag:

Bloggers badly want to believe their time has come. CNN made its reputation by covering the Gulf War, and I am sure someone has declared that the bloggers’ recent career-wrecking achievements—discrediting CBS News’ National Guard documents, forcing CNN to oust Eason Jordan, outing the weirdo Gannon—amount to their new new-media equivalent of Operation Desert Storm…

What will take place, I think, is that blogging will be absorbed and then transmuted by larger media entities, something analogous to what happened to theatrical newsreels after their brief heyday in the thirties and forties, when they were subsumed by TV. But in the meantime, until bloggers can commit errors of the Mary Mapes or Eason Jordan kind and then suffer the consequences that Mapes and Jordan did, how seriously can we take the medium?

This conversation is lively, interesting and timely. It’s also a obvious area of focus considering that the conversation is largely taking place among those who are either journalists or think deeply about the media. The media likes covering nothing more than itself.

But we need to remember that this discourse represents but a tiny particle of subject matter in a world that really is about everything. Some blogs attack mainstream media. Some blogs rip mainstream media. Some blogs are part of mainstream media while others aspire to be part of it. And a whole lot of blogs link to and riff off of what they find in the mainstream media.

But it’s not like that’s it.

Let’s not narrow the discussion too much. Big media is not going to absorb a blog written by a teenager who is chronicling his desperate attempts to get laid. Big media is not going to be threatened by a closet photographer who decided to blog about his work once the barrier between content creator and consumer came tumbling down. Mainstream media is not even going to absorb activists, diarists, humorists, travel journalers or those now infamous whatihadforbreakfastists.

Considering the place(s) of the blogger in the broader media world makes for an interesting conversation. But it shouldn’t be mistaken for the whole conversation.

Concentration is important!