Now we can see why blogging and the Net matter so greatly in political journalism. In the age of mass media, the press was able to define the sphere of legitimate debate with relative ease because the people on the receiving end were atomized— meaning they were connected “up” to Big Media but not across to each other. But today one of the biggest factors changing our world is the falling cost for like-minded people to locate each other, share information, trade impressions and realize their number. Among the first things they may do is establish that the “sphere of legitimate debate” as defined by journalists doesn’t match up with their own definition.
In the past there was nowhere for this kind of sentiment to go. Now it collects, solidifies and expresses itself online. Bloggers tap into it to gain a following and serve demand. Journalists call this the “echo chamber,” which is their way of downgrading it as a reliable source. But what’s really happening is that the authority of the press to assume consensus, define deviance and set the terms for legitimate debate is weaker when people can connect horizontally around and about the news.
And thank goodness for the Internet!
This is one of those articles that, once you read it, you realize, "Oh my goodness! That is exactly what people do! That is exactly what is going on!"
There really are such things as conspiracies, folks. They just don't look like what we expect; there's no meeting in dark alleys and secret handshakes. It turns out they're freakin' obvious, if we'll just pull our heads out of wherever we've stuck 'em and think a little. Our knee-jerk, government educated selves are usually a big part of the problem.
On a personal note, it's just too bad I came across all this stuff so late. I waited too long to get on the Internet bandwagon. But better late than never, I suppose.
Oh well. I'm still doing better than the liberal-by-twenty, conservative-by-thirty. I was conservative-by-twenty, libertarian-by-thirty.
But, come to think of it, these days that's really just two ways of saying the same thing...