FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

With Katrina/Rita, Blogs Truly Come of Age

Despite the hype generated by political bloggers who chronicled and fact-checked last year's Presidential campaign, it took two nasty bitches to push blogging into the mainstream: Katrina and Rita.

The two hurricanes are by far the most blogged-about -- and most searched-for -- topics in the history of the blogosphere, according to those who measure blog traffic. Bloggers in the affected regions provided first-hand accounts, while others used annotated maps and satellite images to show damage. Still others have served as fact checkers, calling out, for instance, former FEMA director Mike Brown's lack of previous emergency management experience, and referencing past reports noting the danger New Orleans faced even after President Bush and other politicians claimed that no one foresaw the devastation. The political bloggers are now joining in, with liberals and conservatives alike attacking government spending plans for hurricane reconstruction.

Most importantly, the mainstream media now take blogs seriously, seeking them out as a valued resource. The facts provided by bloggers have even helped mainstream news sources take a newly aggressive reporting posture after years of fluff and kowtowing to official sources.

Despite this, there are signs that blogging remains an emerging technology. Smart Mobs cites three UK articles noting that while 77% of Brits surveyed rely on blogs as a key information source, businesses have not yet woken up to the potential of blogs to either help or damage their public image, and the vast majority outside the IT and media industries are unaware of blogging.

Source: TechnologyReview.com