Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blagging in the blogosphere, or why bloging is necessary and good

Richard Ladle compiles often heard points about the blogosphere trying to sort out whether blogs are good or bad in a recent contribution to the Green Room at BBC-. He looks essentially at the green environmental sphere. He argues from the point of view of a very well established news group (the BBC), a point of view, which could easily be taken from the science or conservation itself.

He concludes, that if the established journalists don't act quick "we run the risk of creating a generation of eco-illiterate consumers and voters at a crucial time for the Earth's diminishing resources." But isn't that, what the media does with us anyway? There is very little coverage in the news about environment, which can be the highly selected, thought-to-be-digestible-for-consumer parts of a buffet of daily environmental news. And this buffet is already a choice of offerings hardly representing what's happening out there. Why else have all the large environmental NGOs, and in fact any larger organization, such a strong, professional media department? What is at the end more important, yet another high level meeting of politicians and high level conservationists talking about Africa, or a high caliber meeting of the biologists and conservationists studying Madagagascar at Duke university, talking specifics about Madagascar - a prerequisite of well-informed, and thus hopefully sustainable development. One is in the news, the other completely missed.

In a more general term, one could argue that it is not obvious that the more established a source is, the better it is. The most blatant case being our news reporting uncritically the lies of the Bush administration leading up to the war in Iraq and its early phase. This could also be argued for science itself: see the debate on climate change or GMOs, and the willingness of some scientists to work for particular interests, such as the extracting industy.

The solution I envision is rather that we must be lucky that we do have blogs. We are certainly in a nascent stage in its development, as opposed to a well established stage of our current sources of information. But then, individual meanings are not the final truth, and it is indeed a question, whether the politicians, the economy or the civil society ought to have the last word. With other words, an ever complex information highway most likely reflects much better a complex world.

What we need though, and that is certainly the challenge for the future, are tools to mine all the different bits of information and to visualize the results: What is the issue? What are the points? Where is it? What interests do the sources represent? This goes along the line, that there has been never before a greater responsibility on individuals to be more discriminating news consumer.


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