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Blogs, Journalism, and Wikipedia

Bryan Alexander highlights a bet made in 2002: would blogs or New York Times have better search result returns in 2007? The winner isn’t very clear, though some have given blogs a slight edge. Dave Winer, who was betting on blogs winning, expresses disappointment with blogs: “While blogs have broken many stories, they have not, in general, turned into the authoritative sources I hoped they would in 2002. When the blogosphere resembles journalism it’s often the tabloid kind.” (He should follow some of the conversations occurring with edubloggers – the subject of books, journal articles, and conferences are typically discussed a few years earlier in edublogs). The unknown, come-from-nowhere winner is Wikipedia – often taking the first position in search results. The initial bet didn’t conceive of an option “c”. As Rogers Cadenhead states: “Instead, our most trusted source on the biggest news stories of 2007 is a horde of nameless, faceless amateurs who are not required to prove expertise in the subjects they cover.”
Several lessons here:
1. Five year predictions are rather futile when too many unsettled factors are interacting
2. A medium rarely becomes what we theorize it will become. Instead, it becomes what users of the medium determine it will be through interactions. Blogs haven’t overthrown newspapers, but they have become very valuable means of exchanging information and creating personal learning networks.
3. We are blinded by our current context. The view of blogs/NYTimes as being the only two options seems a bit near sighted in retrospect. It’s important to be aware of fringe elements which may disrupt our existing framework of thought and move an entire discipline in a new direction.

One Comment

  1. ismael wrote:

    I absolutely share your point of view about edubloggers: whenever I speak in public about blogs, Web 2.0 and so, I always explain “the history of the PLE” and how Scott Wilson began airing his ideas about it through his blog. A perfect example.

    Sunday, December 30, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Permalink