I didn't, until I began researching blogs and the bloggers that blog. Sure, much has been written about blogs and their significance. Weblogs are what bulletin boards became when they grew up and got digital, right? Well run blogs that have specific targets and audiences can even become a kind of media all their own.
Blogs as adjunct to digital make great sense. Just look at the Spin Board after reading this column. It's a great example of this kind of thinking, if not, in the strictest terms, a real blog.
But, I still can't figure out what the big deal is about blogs. Do people really need to have their voice heard that much? Are all the people who posted on F**kedcompany.com still out of work or something? Seriously - why do they generate so much attention, even from people who have never posted to one? Of course, I accept that blogs have helped balanced who is published, who is considered a writer, what can be said, reviewed, or what new agents appear. After all, I began to write this column because I liked having a voice and really liked what hearing from people would teach me. Sticking one's neck out is the best way to get a close shave, you know?
Is that along the lines of what people see in blogs? Is it mostly about an exchange of ideas? I doubt it - since that would hardly be so newsworthy as blogs have remained. Is it that now anybody can publish, even several times a day, whatever she or he wants to publish? Is this a good thing?
In countries with stricter media control, blogs indeed are vital. They've become an essential part of the fabric for the educated young in Mexico, for example. And these blogs get readers in huge numbers. Then those readers turn into new writers. In that construct, of course it's fantastic that some good ones have appeared.
Maybe that's why they've grown here in the United States as they have. Political dissent has never been less popular in my lifetime than it was about a year ago. Maybe blogs are part of the reason why it's okay to say that you disagree with certain policies now, when it wasn't last summer. But, I doubt they really matter that much.
Seriously - I'm a bit flummoxed here. To my way of thinking, the best thing about the Web is also the worst thing. For marketers, self-selected cohorts make for more precise targeting. Web media is like special interest media, only a whole lot better. For politicians, this works just as well, which is why more media spend is coming online from the campaigns. But, the very thing that made the Dean campaign so successful early on - that precise segmenting - is also the thing that make evangelizing difficult online. In other words, it's easy to preach to the converted online, it's far more difficult to recruit the faithful.
To me, blogs are an extension of that, but primarily a more insular one. Of course, I regard something like Rock Bruner's blog from Ad:Tech as valuable. But, that's less about the value of a blog and more about the witness on site providing insight. Regarded from a greater distance, I just don't get what the hubbub is about today's blogocracy, and why anyone should care if bloggers get media credentials for the conventions and the like.
I sure hope someone will explain it to me on the Spin Board.