Adam Penenberg: I detest the word “blog.” It sounds like the noise a bulimic makes after a hearty meal.
Unfortunately, this faux onomatopoeia has done more to undermine blogs, blogging and the so-called blogosphere than a thousand maladroit Columbia Journalism Review articles.
Nevertheless, we are in the midst of a new kind of internet boom, thanks in large part to this weblog phenomenon. It’s not an economic bubble, where scores of startup companies run by fresh-faced 20-somethings are blowing through wads of venture capital in the hopes of becoming the first eBay or Amazon.com in their digital niches. Rather, it’s a revolution in the dissemination of intellectual capital.
Some would say I’m overselling this, but then again these are probably the same people who consider bloggers “pajama pundits.” Or are the solipsists who once looked upon the internet as a fad, believing it would suffer the same fate as CB radios, and who once thought online news would never equal print.
But in fact the blogosphere has evolved into a sphere of memes and ideas that are constantly shaped by the millions of web users who write, read and comment on blogs. In a sense, it operates in a similar fashion to open-source code, where a loose confederation of programmers tinkers with software, adding to it and sharing contributions with anyone who is interested.
In the world of words, the closest analogy would be Wikipedia, the web citizen’s encyclopedia that is compiled exclusively by volunteers. The problem is, since anyone can write anything about anybody or anything without any oversight, the quality is often uneven. For example, I plugged myself (a subject I am somewhat familiar with) into its search engine and found a glaring error and a typo in the short, 95-word passage. Like consensus, Wikipedia is wonderful for getting people active in the process, but perhaps not as good for editorial accuracy.