Saturday, August 15, 2009

What Happens in the Blogosphere...

A few months ago, Cliff Krieger (Right-Side-of-Lowell) posted a link to a great spoof of blogs, which showed a lonely man sitting out on a precipice in one of them big rectangular states. The caption read, "Blogging: Never Before Have So Many with So Little to Say Said So Much to So Few." A great twist on Mr. Churchill's quote after the Battle of Britain, and something most bloggers and blog readers have probably thought about.

The drum I like to beat, however, is that blogs drive a lot more debate than some people realize, because the chattering classes who put together other types of media often mine them for information. There are a couple *real* news stories that I know I caught on either Left in Lowell or Richard Howe in the past year before seeing in print and a couple times the slant of the blogosphere seemed to even influence an editorial page or two (I'll admit there could be some coincidence at play there, but that's why I used a safe word like "seemed.")

Whatever your take on the Lowell Sun, however, it is read by many thousands each day. Its editorials and Mr. Wallace's Saturday Chat grab the attention of many who've probably never read a blog, let alone read regularly or comment. As one quick anecdotal example to support this, I had heard about Choice Voting petitioners who were going door-to-door in the Highlands on a day where Choice Voting had been mentioned in the Chat. What had previously been a pained "elevator pitch" of a seemingly complicated system became much easier for this group, because resident after resident was telling them, "I'm already familiar with it...I saw it in this morning's Sun."

There have been several instances that come to mind recently where Kendall Wallace has drawn on Lowell city election data with an outright "hat tip" to the source, Howe's site. Today's Chat (I would have linked but couldn't find it online) is another great example of a story that started online (specifically, on LiL) made its way into print. Wallace mentions the comment from the "Downtowner" who tried to smear Franky Descoteaux for somehow being un-American, the subsequent posting of Franky's bio to her site, the link from LiL, and some reader comments, to include one from LiL co-author Lynne Lupien.

Even though Wallace didn't mention LiL by name, he was transparent about his having drawn from "the blogs" for the piece. One finer point that was missed, however, is the distinction between "blogger" and "commenter." To me, the blogger is only the person writing the original post on a blog, and anyone who leaves a comment is just that -- a commenter.

I don't get tons of comments here, but in the case of the blogs that do, I hope that readers are able to distinguish the opinions and views of the writers from those who leave "drive-by" comments that may or may not add value or come from a genuine place.

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