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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.

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