World Magazine, along with other sources, is calling 2004 “The Year of the Blog” because of the meteoric rise of this form of communication and its impact on public life. At least four Grace Brethren blogs (Tom Avey, Brian Orme, Ivanildo Trindade, BMH Editor’s Blog) are accessible through FGBC’s website, (click “short cuts”) and there is vigorous blogging activity among Brethren teens on Xanga.com and other places.
The World article, which features born-again news commentator Hugh Hewitt, announces a new book on blogging by Hewitt to appear next month. Here is a short excerpt–read the whole article by clicking here.
Today’s blogs are typically websites operated by an individual or a group with frequent postings throughout the day. Though some blogs are essentially personal notebooks or diaries open for the world to see, the more influential blogs post commentary and opinion with clickable links to information about the topic being discussed. New entries pile up on top of older entries, so visitors to the site have to scroll down to read what has been posted earlier.
But perhaps the most important feature of blogs is that they are interactive. That is, readers can post comments, responding to what the blogger says with discussion and information of their own. It was not the Powerline bloggers but a reader who first showed in September why Dan Rather’s documents about President Bush’s National Guard service were probably bogus. Soon, with the blogs linked together as they are, thousands of amateur detectives were on the case. Experts on typewriters and computer fonts posted their comments, exact duplicates of the memos were generated on personal computers, and soon the case for forgery was made.
The CBS executive who sniffed that a blogger in his pajamas was not to be compared to a professional news organization with its fact-checking resources was missing the point. Bloggers do not work in isolation. What the technology makes possible is the marshaling of thousands of fact-checkers. Blogs have created a whole new atmosphere of information, which has become linked together, harder to hide, and available to everyone with a computer.
Mr. Hewitt calls this “open-source journalism,” in which an elite journalism establishment no longer has the monopoly on news and analysis, readers can collaborate with writers, and a free market of ideas and information can emerge.
In his new book Blog, due out in January, Mr. Hewitt traces the short but ground-shaking history of the blogosphere. He identifies four key stories that marked the clout of blogs over the mainstream media.