Monday, January 17, 2005

More Blog Infighting

Awhile ago, I posted this theory of my disbelief in the power of blogs. As you can see from the comments, Kevin at Smallest Minority had some minor disagreements with my evaluation of blogs in the 21st century.

As most of you know, Kevin is by far, a more thoughtful and influential blogger than I. Kirk at Limpity has gone so far as to insinuate that my typing fingers cannot operate simulatenously with my brain. Good point well taken.

I've gotten into arguments with Kevin before and he smites me like the cerebral titan that he is.

My latest response to his allegation that 4-5% of the swing vote were the determining electorate, is that they weren't. Fence sitters don't read blogs or follow Swift Boat Veteran allegations. They vote how they are convinced and Rather and muddy river boats don't enter the equation. As I cited in the above post, maybe, and I STRESS maybe 9% of the population read blogs. The swing vote maybe shares .5% as common demographics. Not only is it not enough to swing an election, it wasn't enough to bring the Swift Boat guys to the front. I read my copy of National Review every two weeks when it comes in, while eating a burrito on the following Saturday from when it shows up. I knew about the Swift Boat Vets but then NR has a circulation hovering around 160,000; barely over the line of victory in one state out of 50.

As a lot of the discussion was spent in private email, another idea occurred to me. When this happens, half of the arguments are usually buried in comments sections of old posts or through private email.

Why do people like reality shows or poker? The answer is is that there is conflict.

I have been contemplating opening another blog which would be available to anyone who wanted to mix it up with another blogger. That way, you could link to the site and hopefully 90% of the content leading up to the face-off would be available. I would think this to be eminently fair to the consumer who thinks XRLQ is a Zenith telvison part. Any suggestion would be apprecitated.

Sucking up will do you no good! ;-)

My point about the blogosphere is not that the undecided is among the 9% of the population that reads it, but that the blogosphere has become a force that drags the mainstream media kicking and screaming to cover and publicize stories they previously would bury, or to illuminate fraud in the public arena like Rathergate or Jayson Blair/Howell Raines.

In other words, it makes information available broadly that otherwise would not see the light of day. Hewitt calls the effect "blog swarms" - where many bloggers comment on the same story, digging up information and interlinking it, leading to "opinion storms" that the mainstream media is unable to ignore.

No one would have heard of the Swift Boat Veterans had they not received attention on the blogs, and I'm personally certain that Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia" fax pas cost him some votes. Joe and Jane Undecided would have never heard about that had the MSM remained the gatekeepers of what was and what was not a story.

I repeat: The influence of blogs in the 2004 election was small, but small made a difference.
Ben likes to type an entry and hit the publish button. Sometimes he does not think out the impact of his post in the eyes of others. Usually much to his chagrin.

His point is valid. But and it is a big but. Yes, very few people read the blogs, but I think that a great number of people were swayed by like minded people that had read those blogs.

It is not always a direct read that accomplished the change, but in my opinion the talk about those blog entries made an impact. Word of mouth between friends and coworkers often holds a powerful sway in peoples minds. Hearing something from someone you trust and respect often has a greater impact than the idiot box ever has.

Unfortunately, "chagrin" is not a feeling in my gallery.

In this regard, I will use my mother as an example. She is a schoolteacher who follows politics but has made the change from liberal to conservative over the last 10 years.

During the election, my mother sensed that Kerry was a lying motherfucker very early on. She's never heard of the Swift Boat Veterans or Rathergate and my old man has made multiple attempts to even define a "blog" for her. She doesn't get any of this shit, but was going to vote for Bush regardless.

I hold swing voters in minor contempt, even though this last election (outside of Libertarians, who couldn't decide whether they were pissing away their vote or not) I never met one.

A minor response,

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