But, but . . . Hiltzik either misses, or is still in denial about, the most important aspect of the blogosphere. Here are the key paragraphs from his piece:
The 9/11 attacks had propelled blogging into an all-purpose social echo chamber. Over the next few years the format kept spreading — cyberspace seemed to have given birth to a new entity called the blogosphere. During last year's presidential campaign, it seemed to burst into broad public consciousness; partisan bloggers' noisy role in some of the more contentious episodes of the election started people talking about whether blogging is good, bad or indifferent for society.It's that last sentence that caught my eye: The voices in the blogosphere have "the same balance one will find among American newspapers, movies and the inventory at Barnes & Noble."
My own take is that the question is irrelevant. Blogs are tools for self-expression, no better or worse than the thought that goes into them. Some are indispensable, others vacuous; some brilliant, others infantile; some left, others right; some have things to say to the entire world, others seem to speak exclusively to their owners' navels. I couldn't say which way the balance tips in any of those categories, but I suspect that it's the same balance one will find among American newspapers, movies and the inventory at Barnes & Noble.
Well, no. As much as people who make their living in the old media would like it to be otherwise, the blogosphere is fundamentally and radically different from their publications: It is open to everyone. Newspapers, the movies (maybe especially the movies!) and major booksellers are characterized by barriers to entry. An elite and demonstrably out of touch class runs all of those outlets for expression and opinion. Hiltzik seems to understand blogging more than the average old media writer, but he's still missing the biggest part of the story.