Recently I've been wondering: Now that weblogs are gaining momentum (Salon Blogs being the latest example), now that they're moving beyond the fringe ... where do they go? What's the point of a weblog and what does it accomplish?
The O'Reillynet blogs are mostly technological commentary. We who blog here are the moral equivalent of Howard Cosell (and technology is our NFL). Good stuff, often interesting, and one of the original missions: commenting on what's going on.
Dave Winer (and others, like Eric Albert) are gradually wandering into politics (they're at the toe-dipping stage, but the big splash seems inevitable). What they're doing is interesting: they're attempting to jumpstart the tech community to defend technology. The idea here is: blogs are also social. Groups of like-minded bloggers link to each other, and the bloggers and their readership (which is considerably more interactive than readers of traditional forms of writing) form a social group. Hence blogs can help to organize groups of people and can help form political movements.
Memo to Dave: I'd throw money in to a fund for to help defend technology. But, then again, I already do. Part of what you're trying to do already exists. It's called the Electronic Frontier Foundation and you should be mentioning it more often.
Meanwhile, over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds has discovered that the ideas behind open source apply to things beyond codebases. Eric Raymond (who also has a blog) once wrote: "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." Glenn Reynolds and co seem to have discerned that blogs allow readers to talk back and, in fact, turn readers into crazed gangs of fact-checking ferrets. Given enough eyeballs, even a New York Times editorial can be corrected.
All in all, it's interesting. 3 or 4 years ago I ran across diaryland and it was enough to make me permanently skeptical of weblogs. But, these days, I'm fascinated by the ways people are using them.
William Grosso is a coauthor of Java Enterprise Best Practices.
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