Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Great Unread

Looking at the introduction to Uses of Blogs again, the opening essay by Axel Bruns and Joanne Jacobs raises a vital point about misrepresentation of what the blogging universe is by much of the mainstream press. Viewed from CNN or Fox or The New York Times, the blogosphere is primarily opinion and news filter sites, places like DailyKos, Eschaton, Intsapundit, or God forbid, Little Green Footballs (not that I’m an Instapundit fan, either). But most people who blog, or have a page on Myspace or Facebook, or post to some Yahoo usergroup, are not doing that kind of thing. Much of the blog universe is much more quirky and personalized than that. Try clicking on "next blog" up on the banner if you don't know what I'm talking about.

Ok, so what? There are millions of blogs which almost no one reads (this being one of them - click on my Technocrati link at the bottom). They may be the bulk of the blog universe, but not in terms of readership. Well, I’m concerned about blogs as history, or better, as historical sources. This is the first time ever, in all of human history, that so much material from non-elite sources is available. This first blog generation has the opportunity to be better known to history than any that preceded. There are already political scientists studying DKos (I don’t know any examples, but I know my fellow academics, and I'm sure people are working on it) - but more attention needs to be paid to the folks lower down the food chain, which is one of the things Uses of Blogs does. It’s critical that academics take the great unread/barely read blogosphere seriously – and archivists, too. The mainstream media could help here, too. We could be the first generation to be fully known by history, if, if, if, all this is preserved.

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