Pajama Revolution

Bloggers got a lift from The Economist in an article last week discussing the rise of the blogosphere as a medium complementary to traditional media.
Blogs, moreover, are but one item on a growing list of new media tools that the internet makes available. Wikis are collaborative web pages that allow readers to edit and contribute. This, to digital immigrants, may sound like a recipe for anarchic chaos, until they visit, for instance,, an online encyclopaedia that is growing dramatically richer by the day through exactly this spontaneous (and surprisingly orderly) collaboration among strangers. Photoblogs are becoming common; videoblogs are just starting. Podcasting (a conjunction of iPod, Apple's iconic audio player, and broadcasting) lets both professionals and amateurs produce audio files that people can download and listen to.

It is tempting, but wrong, for the traditional mainstream media (which includes The Economist) to belittle this sort of thing. It is true, for instance, that the vast majority of blogs are not worth reading and, in fact, are not read (although the same is true of much in traditional newspapers). On the other hand, bloggers play an increasingly prominent part in the wider media drama—witness their role in America's presidential election last year. The most popular bloggers now get as much traffic individually as the opinion pages of most newspapers. Many bloggers are windbags, but some are world experts in their field. Matthew Hindman, a political scientist at Arizona State University, found that the top bloggers are more likely than top newspaper columnists to have gone to a top university, and far more likely to have an advanced degree, such as a doctorate.
The Revolution in this case has nothing to do with overthrowing the old order, but with making it more accountable. Come to think of it, the original American War of Indepence started with cries of no taxation without representation!, so the pajamahedin may be Minute Men after all. On second thought, that might give people the wrong idea ...

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

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