Let the Revolution Continue!
The Mainstream Media (MSM) has been dealt multiple blows, from CBS' "Rathergate" to the New York Times' "missing explosives" to distortions of words by Bill Moyers, Paul Krugman, and writers for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and hundreds of other newspapers. Weblogs - "blogs" - have unearthed fictitious stories, fictitious characters, fraudulent documents (and many other kinds of fraud), mis-representation, and outright lies. Not only have they unearthed them and brought them to light, they've frequently forced corrections and in more than one case, have seen the culprits punished, including being fired.
Politics, too, have run aground on the reefs and shoals of the blogosphere. The Washington State election fiasco won't go away because the blogosphere keeps the issue fresh in the minds of the people. The mainstream media is forced to follow, or look even more foolish. Voter fraud in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan came to light because of the work of bloggers. Attempts to ignore unpleasant truths during the last election campaign were stymied by blogs. Blogs in Iraq, written by ordinarly Iraqi citizens, provided a much more coherent picture of what was actually going on inside that country than any of the media 'reporters' that constantly filled the airways with doom and gloom.
Today, the education megopolis is under scrutiny, thanks to the blogosphere's willingness to search out the truth about some of academia's "stars". Ward Campbell is feeling the heat, but he's not alone. Juan Cole, I'm sure, is beginning to hate the blogosphere. Others that have spent their entire adult lives "inside the system" are beginning to feel the heat. Unfortunately for those in the ivory towers of America's universities and colleges, the scrutiny is just beginning. It will eventually reach from top to bottom, and reshape the academic world, just as it's reshaping the sharing of the information we call "news" and political debate.
These aren't the only areas that need scrutiny in our modern world. We need to begin seriously searching for the truth about religions - all of them - as well as watching the words of those that act as spokespeople in the fields of economics, industry, labor, ecology, culture and society, and even the blogosphere itself. Just as the blogosphere has fact-checked the mainstream media, politics, and to a lesser extent, academia, we need to constantly fact-check one another. That is the sole source of integrity that bloggers can rely upon.
Blogs are a new source of power, and also a new source of cooperation. The recent worldwide response to the Dec 26, 2004, tsunami that killed a quarter-million people and left another five million in need showed the power of this different side of blogging - the ability to express compassion, not just in words but in deeds, coordinated to be the most effective and productive, and ensuring that the needs of even the most remote villagers were met.
Blogs are just one of many tools available via the Internet, of course, and they have both extroidinary capabilities as well as great limits. Incorporated with other Internet tools, however - chat, instant messaging, email, data distribution, and others - they can address almost any subject, and do it with a bredth and scope not available to the average person ever before. New ideas, new uses, and new ways of doing things will expand the usefulness - and the power - of the Internet in ways not even imagined today.
We are on the leading edge of a revolution. As in all revolutions, there will be wins, and losses, winners and losers, and frequently an excess of confusion. As with many revolutions, the outcome is yet unknown. Yet with hard work, integrity, and cooperation, we can all look forward to a world more transparent, more understandable, and more pleasant for all of us than what we currently struggle with.