Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Yet another interesting post at VentureBlog -- Is Web inherently Democratic?
I like the article, and I think the point it raises about empoering architectures is a valid and good one. I do; however, disagree with the following assertion
The way in which a technology is architected can impact the ways in which it will be used or the ways in which it will inhibit certain uses. In discussing blogs, one of the participants made the point that blogs are not much different from good old bulletin boards and therefore the blog hype is unwarranted -- bulletin boards were never considered the great democratizer of media, so why should blogs? The answer is in the architecture. The difference between bulletin boards and blogs is simple: RSS. The architecture of RSS feeds and modern publishing platforms make the dissemination of information created on an individual level potentially massive. It makes it possible for someone like me to became a source of news that is cited in the mainstream media. Thus, to Lessig's point, by virtue of the architecture of modern blog tools, the limitations of bulletin boards are removed and the information can flow freely.

Yet another interesting post at VentureBlog -- Is Web inherently Democratic?
I like the article, and I think the point it raises about empoering architectures is a valid and good one. I do; however, disagree with the following assertion

The way in which a technology is architected can impact the ways in which it will be used or the ways in which it will inhibit certain uses. In discussing blogs, one of the participants made the point that blogs are not much different from good old bulletin boards and therefore the blog hype is unwarranted -- bulletin boards were never considered the great democratizer of media, so why should blogs? The answer is in the architecture. The difference between bulletin boards and blogs is simple: RSS. The architecture of RSS feeds and modern publishing platforms make the dissemination of information created on an individual level potentially massive. It makes it possible for someone like me to became a source of news that is cited in the mainstream media. Thus, to Lessig's point, by virtue of the architecture of modern blog tools, the limitations of bulletin boards are removed and the information can flow freely.

I feel that RSS is actually the tool that gave blogs parity with bulletin boards, not something that put them over the top. The beauty of newsgroups was that it was easy to update content - like blogs vs. more traditional homepages, and that one knew how to find that updated content -- like RSS instead of going through a long bookmark list. What the newsgroups did not provide, IMO, is that richness of personal expression that blogs let you have. You did not know anything about the author. You could not easily see their other postings to other newsgroups, etc, etc. That is just fine in some situations. Bulletin boards/forums at photo.net are an amazing collection of Photographic knowledge that would be hard to replicate in a different form. In fact, any Q&A on a massive scale still cannot occur within a blog continuum, but goes on happily in newsgroups. The reason BB's were not considered a democraticizing tool is because of their Q&A structure that gives the same voice to everyone. For blogs, the voice of the author is pre-eminent. S/he may or may not allow comments, but in the end it is the author's rant that readers come for. Because a specific voice is heard, and the record of the author is easier to establish, traditional media feels more comfortable quoting blogs than BBs.

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