Blogs, or web logs, may actually be developing a concrete purpose other than to provide a publishing forum for ranters, gas bags, would-be journalists and columnists to waste their time.
Internet blogs fueled the fires of outrage regarding Senator Trent Lott's comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. Mainstream reporters read the blogs, wrote about them; this led to a mainstream media feeding frenzy that put pressure on Lott to resign as Republican Majority Leader.
Wired is reporting that Internet opinion pages like Instapundit, run by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, and Talking Points Memo, from progressive Josh Marshall -- were among the first to latch on to ABCNews.com's brief item on Lott's racist comments during Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday bash. "And they kept focusing on Lott's hateful past -- until the national press corps finally had to take notice," Wired's Noah Shachtman writes.
It's not the first victory for bloggers, according to Wired. In May, 20002, when pro-Palestinian activists attacked a group of Hillel students at San Francisco State University, the "national press took no notice; there was a small mention in the May 12 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, nothing more. But bloggers -- led by Richmond, Virginia, freelance writer Meryl Yourish -- piled on the story. Within days, the attack became a nationwide matter. On May 14, blogger James Lileks mentioned it in a nationally syndicated newspaper column for the Newhouse News Service. Five days later, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, all followed suit with their own articles. "
But most bloggers are not nearly as interesting, or as successful. "Bloggers are navel-gazers," Elizabeth Osder, a visiting professor at The University of Southern California's School of Journalism, told Wired. "And they're about as interesting as friends who make you look at their scrap books." She added, "There's an overfascination here with self-expression, with opinion. This is opinion without expertise, without resources, without reporting."
So, if I decide to regularly post to my own blog, the trick is to write interesting stuff that no one else is writing. Or perhaps to use a blog to provide an online archive for my published work, or work I intend to publish.