A weblog, or simply a blog, is a website which is regularly updated (often several times a day) and where the information is offered in a chronological sequence. The front page of the blog provides the latest additions. The operator of the blog provides a more or less personal logbook of information (posts) that he will share with the visitors to his weblog.
Blogs are a logical extension of the virtual communities that have surfaced around the world. The idea appeals to the tribal nature of societies. Blogs, however, play a unique role, as, at the same time, they can be ultra-personal. Those blogs that harness both issues will be amongst the most successful.
While blogs can be, and are, used in connection with a wide range of topics, the most popular ones are politically oriented, on international, national (but especially local and community) issues. Many community-based organisations and politicians operate their own blogs to stay in contact with grassroots sentiment, ideas, suggestions and comments. It allows for active participation from individual citizens in political decision-making processes.
This allows citizens to bypass the media, and this process of media democratisation is also called mediacracy. In a rapidly commercialised news market, where the company share price rules, and which is characterised by the dumbing-down and Americanisation of news and information, blogging is rapidly conquering the world through the millions of people who reject the way the news system presently works. The same applies to the spin-doctoring that is taking place, with a great deal of political and commercial information being massaged into the traditional media.
Blogs offers citizens a way round this.
Traditional media can’t provide for the direct participation of its readers in political (and other) debates. Blogs can provide such a democratic service and it is therefore in the interests of democracy to investigate and maximise the possibilities that blogging can offer to politicians, the media and the wider community.
Proactive politicians, journalists and other opinion architects could become the leaders of the blog revolution. At the same time, scanning blogs will enable proactive leaders to detect new trends, developments, opinions and ideas at an early stage. Many companies already have an active monitoring program to detect comments regarding their companies, brands, products and services.
The fact that young people around the world are massively abandoning the traditional news media is a warning sign that the current media are unable to maintain this important role in democratic societies, and it is therefore important that we investigate what roles blogs can play in the media policies of democratic nations and communities. With newspaper circulations in the western world at an all time low, it is about time for this industry to start looking at innovations.
Affecting traditional news media
Blogs will, in some cases, undermine the traditional news media; but more innovative media will find ways to incorporate blogs into their services – in other words, readers become journalists. Having said this, there are, of course, serious hooks connected to these systems. The media doesn’t want to be held liable for blogs that appear on their Internet site, and implementing censorship defeats the purpose of blogging.
For that reason alone the majority of blogs will therefore remain in the public domain.
Nevertheless, the traditional new media will need to very seriously investigate blogging in order to see how they can support their own operations, and use blogs, themselves, to check if they are reporting the news in the way people want. It allows them to keep an ear to the ground.
The media also need to have a much better understanding of how people use news. This has far-reaching consequences – not just in relation to blogging, but also to other media, for example, the Internet, video-based broadband, mobile, wireless and so on.
News needs, by default, to be multimedia. The current structure of separate text-based, video-based and audio-based news media does not make sense in our converging world. Most news media, however, are asleep at the wheel. At the same time more and more bloggers are already understanding this and are including video and audio applications into their blogs.
Key elements in the converging world are: personalisation, diversification and interactivity and all media will need to take these changes very seriously. Most media are still looking at their business with blinkers on. They are more concerned about the effect newspapers, magazines, TV and radio have on each other, and they are missing the point – that the real threat (and the real opportunities) are coming from a totally different direction.
Most media are looking on blogs as a threat, and are therefore avoiding the phenomenon as far as possible.
Other blog terms
Most blogs also allow for posting notes and comments on previously posted blogs, in sequence. Each blog gets its own list, and so can be cross-referred individually – for instance to other weblogs.
Trackbacks allow others who mention or discuss other weblogs to post a reference back to the original blog. Blogrolls are lists of links to other related blogs. Blog systems allow for elaborate archiving systems.
Global – Convergence of Media & Telecommunications
Global – Broadcasting (Digital, Cable, Satellite TV)
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