Monday, September 19, 2005

A three-legged stool

An interesting piece by Peter Daou takes a look at the question How influential are bloggers? and concludes that they can accomplish nothing without simultaneous (even if not coordinated) actions by the mainstream media and establishment leadership -- that all three together can begin to affect the conventional wisdom and/or bring an issue into the spotlight, but that bloggers acting alone are just barking in the dark. However, he doesn't claim that the blogosphere is toothless, just that it has to work by persuading the real power-brokers that its views are important.
That is not to say that blogs can’t be the first to draw attention to an issue, as they often do, but the half-life of an online buzz can be measured in days and weeks, and even when a story has enough netroots momentum to float around for months, it will have little effect on the wider public discourse without the other sides of the triangle in place. Witness the Plame case, an obsession of left-leaning bloggers long before the media and the political establishment got on board and turned it into a political liability for Rove and Bush.
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To understand what happens when the online community is on its own, look no further than electronic voting. The progressive netroots has been hammering away at this for years, but the media and the political establishment is largely mute. Traction = Zero. The conventional wisdom puts it squarely in the realm of conspiracy theories.
battle of the parties Lots of good points for would-be online activists to consider, and insights into differences between how the right and left succeed in getting their ideas mainstreamed.
Rightwing bloggers will thus do everything in their power to prevent another Katrina triangle, where the confluence of blogs, media, and Democratic leadership exposes the real Bush and shatters the conventional wisdom about his ability to lead.
Worth reading the whole thing (Salon Premium), or a short version distilled by Kos.

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