This weekend I came across Joel Achenbach’s weekly article in the Washington Post Magazine on the topic of blogs. In it, he satirically notes the growing influence of bloggers and blog culture on himself and his readers:
I constantly tell myself: Ignore the blog. Do your work. You are an enormous literary figure and cultural icon, not a mere "blogger." You must produce high-end journalism with grand themes and huge groaning multi-syllabic words like "eschatological," and you can’t be dribbling away all your ideas on the blog. The blog originated in January as a catch basin for mental detritus, for the kind of stuff not good enough for print, but too good to waste on casual conversation or, worse, mere thinking. But this spring I began allowing "comments," and the blog suddenly mutated. America, it turns out, is full of smart, clever, creative people who happen to have no interest in working and whose employers have unwisely given them Internet access.
It’s true that bloggers see the world differently once they start blogging – my own experience being an example, where often I see marketing or advertising messages and think about them in terms of blog posts. The concept of influence, central to this blog, is the question that the blogosphere is struggling to answer. Beyond today’s readership, is there any truth to the grandiose view of bloggers being the chroniclers of our time, recording a "chorus" of daily observations for future generations to look back on and know what our time was like? There are some vocal resistance to this vision – and attempts to place blogs on a new level of importance:
The word "blog" is literally shorthand for "boring;" a vulgar, overused word that strikes your ear with the dull thud of a cudgel to the soft spot of a child. It’s an abbreviation used by journalism drop outs to give legitimacy to their shallow opinions and amateur photography that seems to be permanently stuck in first draft hell. (from The Best Page in the Universe)
Ok, so not everyone is a believer. Truly, with the glut of consumer generated media content on the Internet growing at an astronomical rate – there are millions of discordant voices out there, rather than the chorus it may become in the far future. But if my blog is a way for me to leave my thoughts behind, even though it may only consist of my "shallow opinions and amateur photography" – it still feels like a contribution. At the very least, so I can share those thoughts that I believe to be "to good to waste on casual conversation" – as Achenbach writes. Whether or not they survive as time passes … I don’t believe that’s really up to me anyway.