Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Blog?

Friday, April 4, 2008

I picked up a story from a couple of posts in the local blogosphere. A local TV show ran a feature on blogs, and called it "Beware of the Blog". No, I haven't seen it (sorry, no time to watch local TV these past several months), and everything I know is pretty much from what I've read from the blogs of some friends of ours- Noemi and Juned, in particular.

"Beware of the Blog" supposedly had some guests, and from what I gathered, the show's host tosses an issue, and the guests give their two cents' worth.

Here are some issues I'd like to comment on.

1. It seems that the guests believe that (according to Noemi's blog), "blogs are not reliable sources of information unless they come from respectable bloggers".

Who's to say a blogger is respectable or not? Who's to say a blogger is legit or otherwise. Apparently, one of the guests defined an illegitimate blogger as one who has a fake identity.

Here's how I see it: a blogger is a blogger. You have a blog? Then you're a blogger, regardless of whether you choose to use your real name or not.

I suppose some blogs can be treated more seriously than others- therefore, respectability may vary from one blog to another. Ultimately, however, it is the individual reader that chooses to see the blogger as an authority figure, or as just another waste of time.

Blogging gives anyone and everyone a voice. It's the great equalizer. I don't need my own TV network, radio station or printing press to get my message across anymore.

But a blog is only as powerful and as effective as its number of readers. The internet allows you to read or access virtually anything you want. If your blog has the numbers, then it means for some reason, people choose to read what you have to offer, rather than read something else.

I'd like to think that your readers and subscribers are fairly intelligent people- not easily cowed, swayed or even impressed. The fact that they keep reading your blog, and tell other people about it, does give you quite a degree of authority, and therefore, a fegree of respectability.

2. One of the guests said that blogs are like social rods and are used for social control.

Well, that's one way of looking at it- though it's not entirely true. Blogs can serve a number of purposes- and it doesn't necessarily have to be for social control. Some can be whimsical, others can be fun, many can be deeply serious, or informative and educational, but the vast majority are really just personal diaries and scrapbooks that just happen to be online.

But just like any form of media, blogs are all about keeping things honest. If someone feels that there's a story worth blogging about, and sharing about to the world, then it probably does have some value to it.

If a lot of people seem to be flocking into gossip blogs, then yes, it probably means something. Could it be that people take delight in the downfall of others? Or perhaps they're just in search of good story? Sheer curiosity perhaps? The reasons are many, and not necessarily definite or easily apparent. So just like a social rod, it can be an indicator of sorts.

But blogs aren't all about social control all the time.

3. Beware of the Blog?

Just a tad bit sensational for a title, isn't it? But seriously, why do you have to be afraid of blogs?

Blogs are wonderful tools for communication and interaction. But just like any other form of media, it can be subject to abuse and misuse. In fact, put a blog in the wrong hands, and you can have trouble easily brewing.

Again, blogs only have power if readers choose to give it power. Juned put it rather well, I think. If you don't like what you read, you may choose to:

a> ignore the blog altogether, and dismiss it as a total waste of time,
b> write back and leave a comment, and voice out your disagreement,
c> flag the blog as offensive, particularly if your blog is hosted on free blogging services like Blogspot or Wordpress.
d> sue their sorry asses, in particularly extreme cases, and I hope it never has to come to that.

Again, Juned put it nicely: Caveat Lector. Latin for "Let the Reader Beware".

Have any of you guys actually seen that TV feature? What do you think?

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