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 Thursday, 06 January 2005
Thursday, 06 January 2005 10:17:25 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

In this article, the Windows of Change.NET makes the point that old-style media is like the hedgehog, while blogs (as a collective) are like the fox. Where the hedgehog is really good at one big thing, and the fox is apparently pretty good at a whole lot of things.

Intuitively this makes sense - as long as you read lots of blogs. Reading just WOF.NET or INSTAPUNDIT or DKos is bad. They are all so slanted as to be individually useless. But reading all of them (and more) gives you a broad perspective.

But a broad perspective on what? Well, on their opinions and analysis (ergo thoughtful opinions) on facts gleaned mostly from the old-style media and their boring but necessary reporters and information gathering capabilities.

Personally I read blogs as opinion pages. Since they go through no vetting or editorial process, it would be foolish to assume anything in any blog is actual fact. The reality is that facts are rare in blogs, but opinion is easy to find. A “fact“ in a single blog is at best a hypothesis-fact. An unsubstantiated, unproven and untested entity.

Once I see opinions on the same presumed fact on several (opposing) blogs, then I'll move it to the level of a theory. These theory-facts are substantiated by showing up in multiple blogs of opposing opinion. This also provides some level of testing, in that there’s some potential that at least one of those bloggers bothered to check out the fact (though that’s not guaranteed).

It isn’t until time passes and the theory shows up on more blogs, in the mainstream media and perhaps most importantly on Jon Stewart that it can become fact.

But time must pass – and we’re talking days or weeks here, not hours. Enough time must pass that real journalists have time to file and sort their reports.

The idea that the UN blamed the US for being stingy with tsunami aid, for instance, moved rapidly from nothing up to theory-fact. Everyone out there jumped on this statement. Turns out it was misquoted by the mainstream media and the right-wing anti-UN factions made it even bigger. Not that the lefties are blameless – but it was they who eventually found the flaw in the theory-fact, rendering the whole thing a fluke.

Of course that’s not how it works. The fact that it was a fluke got lost in the clutter, and the majority of the people out there thing it is actual fact. They never do the work to get corrected in their own knowledge.

And this is the fundamental flaw in the blogsphere today. It takes hours to read and sift through enough blogs and to do your own research to find out what is actually real and what is misguided opinion (right, left, whatever). A person could easily consume all their non-working time (or more) trying to sift through it all – and people just don’t have that kind of time.

Barring the evolution of some sort of software that follows the process I described above - moving “fact” to hypothesis, theory and then fact (or not), blogs will become just another opinion page. A sexy high-tech one to be sure, but still no replacement for actual journalism.

Comments [3] | | # 
Thursday, 06 January 2005 20:09:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
I disagree. While I do not take what I read on blogs as "fact", I don't think that journalism is any better.

They exist to sell commercials.

Fox news is the crack cocaine of television - http://www.cerkit.com/cerkitBlog/PermaLink,guid,7da3bf1a-f2ca-44c2-a785-4397fb2c105b.aspx
Thursday, 06 January 2005 20:23:20 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
Perhaps. I think that there are still journalists that provide value. And certainly hard-core news gathering organizations like the AP and Reuters provide value.

In my youth I worked for a small town newspaper. The old guy who ran it was a very old-time journalist. That paper was quite something - a mix of local gossip and local fact. But you could tell which was which at all times, because the tangible news was clearly separated from the gossip.

I do not mean to imply that blogs have no value. I think they provide tremendous value, in the same way as opinion pages and gossip columns do.

They MIGHT provide news value, but that remains to be seen. They feed of the same news gathering sources as the mainstream media, but they don't pay for it. If the mainstream media falls, who will pay for AP and Reuters? And without them, all we'll have left as far as news or fact gathering are bloggers...

That's scary.
Saturday, 08 January 2005 13:34:48 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
The Sun is hot.

There, a fact, and in your very own blog!

I'm uncomfortable wit hthe idea that if a 'fact' appears in enough blogs, it must be true. Repeation does not make an untrue thing more true. If it did, what would Iraq be like today?

By the way, I think it adds several points to your Nerd score if you think any program or technology is 'sexy'...hehe.
The Evil Cub
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