Just read Ashok Malik's views on blogs. It is a tad optimistic and he does gloss over a bit in his views. Contrary to what he says, blogs did not play a huge part in the US elections. Initially, the blogs were meant to turn the tide and carry Kerry forward into the Whitehouse. Moreover, unlike what he claims, the community does not police itself too well. Most of the bloggers in fact don't give a damn about correcting themselves. When they are caught in a corner they either dismiss it as propoganda or as some 'ism' or the other.
The reasonable voices are far and few between and it is mostly about finding people who read and think similarly, though I would not go as far as to call it an echo chamber. At the most they are information aggregators than opinon shapers. And compared to the west, the Indian scenario is a bit different. There is an actual lack of compelling content and there is a vast pool of wannabes (yes, I'll readily admit to being one too) who are looking for the next great wave of controversy to ride on.
But mostly it is a case of a lot of smoke and no fire at all. The quality of a blog can be determined by a simple factor, whether the content is driving the act of blogging or if the act is driving the content? In any case, the latest controversy (edit: the earlier link was pointing to an unlelated post; my sincere apologies to Shivam), of the Delhi Times story (apparently toned down), on the blogger meet, has taken off and we already have reactions like
"I will slice off your penis and feed it to you". And we wonder why legal notices get issued regarding what we write. Please do get serious guys, at least when you write about others.
To conclude, I'd revert to Malik, who makes a pertinent point.
"Are these flickering exceptions or do they hold a beacon to a new treasure room that journalism is at the edge of? Honestly, I don't know. Someday the MBAs who pay people like me our salaries – and who in turn are paid their salaries by people like Mr N. Ram – will finally pronounce judgment on a possible revenue model for blogs. Who knows, they may even seek to tamper with the format"
Eventually, nothing of a large scale exists by itself. It always leans on a larger framework to reach the masses. Do not underestimate traditional forms of distribution and institutions. They have been around for ages because they adapt and mutate and now they are in the process of mutating again. If you do not understand what I am talking about, you have obviously missed old man Murdoch's vision of the future. To win them, the best way is to join them. The thing is nobody realieses that they have already done that.Update: Part of the above-mentioned post has been
Update 2: Note to self: Stay clear of the bloggers vs. mainstream media battles from now on. It is a worthless endavour.