Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Blogging, and Linking, and Tags, Oh My!

dog on computer

Have you ever heard the expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?

Yeah, I guess that saying has a ring of truth to it, and as most of those wise old sayings go, they can be applied to just about everything. For example, just replace “old dog” with “journalism,” and “can’t” with “can,” and what do you get? BLOGS!

I’ve been aware of these things called “blogs” for a while, read them occasionally, and wrote for them never. Now my first one is just one among millions – 70 million according to The State of the Live Web – so it’s hard to imagine that anyone would find mine in the vast sea of civic journalism and actually read it. Then again, Perez Hilton did pretty well for himself, as did Arianna Huffington.

But with a massive jump of 40 million new blogs in less than a year, I have to wonder why so many people are hopping on the blog-wagon. Being one of those people, here are some of my own reasons:

  • Need for personal expression
  • Desire to know, understand, and connect with others
  • Distrust of the mainstream media
  • Love of writing
  • Had to find out what all the fuss is about

Another motive for the blog craze could be out of a need to understand and deal with real-life issues. Techorati suggests this through its graph of Daily Posting Volume, which shows spikes in the amount of postings during such events as the 2004 US election, Hurricane Katrina, the Israel/Hezbollah conflict, and the time now-V.P. Biden called Obama “clean.” (Isn’t it strange that most of those are US-based?)

Technorati chart 2007

But if you think about it, the growing popularity of blogs can also help explain the increase in tagging and the trend towards folksonomy.

Folk (common people) and taxonomy (categorization system) collide in this modern and fun-to-say word. And just as categorizing everything and everyone – from gender, to religion, to political leanings, to food groups, to movie genres – helps us organize and better understand our world, so do blogs. Blogging and tagging allow us to search, link, share, debate, connect, and learn.

Their popularity has also given the mainstream news media some unexpected competition, even making it feel threatened enough that they had to incorporate our medium into theirs.

If you ask me – although, I guess if you’re reading this you want to know what I think – this brand of news, ie., blogging, is the most reliable news we have (for the moment anyway).

Bloggers don’t hide under journalism’s guise of “objectivity;” they tell it like it is and as it ought to be. But right or wrong, left or right, bloggers’/our ideas are flowing, leaving marks on a world we live, learn, and write about.

New tricks indeed!

One last relevant, timeless (yet slightly updated) saying:

“The blog is mightier than the Military-Industrial-Media Complex.”

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