Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Web-sense

The web is a biased cesspool. There is a self-congralutory belief among some sectors of the blogosphere, oh I might as well say it ~ among more often then not American bloggers, that bloggers are the only true source of wisdom and somehow bloggers know everything first and bloggers are changing the world and even that bloggers are sources of news. Bloggers are not, actually, "sources" as rather "conductors". Occasionally a blogger may be located at the scene of a major event and does snap coverage before major news networks get there, and this is a beautiful thing for bloggers (I do deeply admire those who have found themselves in such situations) but more often then not bloggers are chewing up and rehashing news they have already heard.

The great thing about blogging, is that people think about, debate and discuss things they may not have otherwise. The poor thing about blogs is that most bloggers are blinded by their own dim brilliance and rarely venture out of their comfort zones. Cliques develop in which bloggers hang out with other bloggers who tell them what they want to hear. This is stifling when it comes to true exchange of experience. More often then not exchanges deteriorate into roving schools of commenters who stake out bloggers they disagree with, waiting for an opportunity to begin spouting obscenities, while meanwhile fawning and licking the heels of others who provide the "news" they want to hear.

To a lesser degree this is even reflected in major news outlets online. So often I hear my early morning offline news and yet when I get online the latest has not yet been published, or is published in more "palatable" form. I guess it revolves to a degree around site meters and the many millions of sites competing for online audiences, in contrast to offline media sources which are fewer, have built up audiences over many years and are less at the mercy of the fickle web surfers want. Anyway, the result is a sort of pseudo world where events mirror real life in a sort of parallel universe.

The great thing about online info is immediacy and, in the age of google, searchability. It is accessible. This however, does not make it accurate. Basically the web is a big gossip machine, and in such a machine inconsistency and bias are the weak points.

So, I love the web, I love the sort of inherent seventh web-sense that develops over time. But to me it is an extra co-ordinate. It is not the be-all and end-all. I sway with dismay when I read someone say "news -paper?" As if the very idea of reading paper were almost unheard of.

Web-info is at it's best when taken in conjunction with other media. As one uses eyes, ears and touch to locate ones place in the real world, so one uses the web as an extra sense. It is useful like an extra axis on a graph, but worth nothing when taken out of context with the wider world.

That is not to say real life is all it seems either, it's just saying that more then one point of reference is required in deciphering life as we know it.

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