Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blogging Hype

Or over hype. Bruce Kluger is drawing a fairly tenuous connection in the USA Today. The basic premise – that blogging is still in it’s infancy, and currently has limited reach, is fairly non-controversial, even if delivered with the standard MSM condescension.

A few points to consider from Mr. Kluger’s examples:

Lamont - Lieberman. In this case, the lefty side of the blogosphere delivered enough buzz to help a largely self financed candidate over the top based on a single issue – the Iraq war. This was a significant accomplishment – within very recent memory, Lieberman was very nearly a winning candidate for VP. Given a quirk in Connecticut’s electoral law, he lives to fight another day, in a broader context not as driven by the activists. With out the independent option, he would be out of a job.

Snakes on a Plane. I spend far too much time surfing the web, but beyond looking at the title ‘snakes on the plane’, and thinking “what a great title! I wonder what the movie’s about?”, I was unaware of a huge buzz outside of the movie sites. Plus, “R” ratings generally depress ticket sales.

Howard Dean for President. The bloggers got Howard Dean on the map. Didn’t make President, but wouldn’t be where he is today without them. From Mr. Dean’s point of view, this has to be a success.

So, we have three cases where the blogoshpere generated significant buzz. In the case of “snakes”, fannies were not delivered to seats. Nobody outside of the Studio cares.

In the Lamont case, looks like they won the battle, but not the war. For Dean, a failure. However, in both cases, the Democratic party was pushed to the left, so from an insider’s perspective, the lefty bloggers are advancing their agenda. Whether they can successfully persuade the rest of the country to go along is another question.

As any ad executive will tell you, publicity campaigns can only take you so far. Eventually, you have to have a product that peforms. Dean didn’t perform outside of his activist base. Lamont looks to be in trouble on the same basis.

In terms of blogospheric successes, a few come to mind:

There’s bringing the MSM back to Trent Lott’s remarks about Strom Thurmond, effectively running him out of the Republican leadership. Shredding Dan Rather’s credibility. The discovery of Fauxtography. It’s too soon to say if Porkbusters will make a difference (that’s a harder row to hoe than simply exposing forged documents or photoshopping), but it doesn’t appear to be going away.

Obviously, a mixed bag, with other failures, successes, and excesses that are beyond the scope of this post to document. On balance, something more than Mr. Kluger’s “… like any kid, it needs to be watched very carefully”. Since Mr. Kluger owns to occasionally posting on Huffington, he’s probably well exposed to immature and juvenile bloggers…

Oh,and on the watching front, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Seems like the blogoshpere has taken up that challenge.

False erudition disclosure: tossing in an untranslated latin statement was done intentionally to make this post look impressive and scholarly. However, I have zero working knowledge of Latin, and relied on my research assistant, Dr. Google, to come up with the above. Should a more accurate translation turn out to be “Your Edsel will not work as a pencil sharpener made of ice cream”, it’s just the price one pays for pretentiousness.