Sunday, December 31, 2006

How the crowded blogosphere works

Richard Fernandez has a thought-provoking take on how the blogosphere works, including the various categories of Finders, Linkers, and Thinkers, and the roles they play.

In his comment on that thread, blogger Tigerhawk discusses Fernandez's contention that, originally, it was feared that the blogosphere would be a powerful force for the dissemination of disinformation. But it turns out that it's been more instrumental in countering the spread of disinformation so far. Tigerhawk attributes this to something in the structure of blogs; "perhaps their sheer numbers."

If so, I think it's an illustration of the principles in the book The Wisdom of Crowds. In it, author Surowiecki asserts that:

...large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.

This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless and major ramifications for how businesses operate, how knowledge is advanced, how economies are (or should be) organized and how we live our daily lives.

As for "predicting the future," I thought it was pretty funny that blogger William Beutler at P.I. managed to predict Time magazine's rather inane selection of "You" as Person of the Year, and even got the cover of the issue close to right (hat tip: Pajamas Media). But then, when I thought about it some more (I try to be a "Thinker," after all) I realized the sheer size of the blogosphere indicates that, merely by chance, somebody's bound to get it right. Right? (Not quite like those infinite monkeys and Shakespeare, however--not yet).

Yes, the blogosphere is very large indeed. But, as Tigerhawk also points out, its actual readership, though growing, is still relatively small. Right now it only has true influence in certain very dramatic cases like Rathergate; otherwise, the news (for example, of Hezbollah's disinformation campaign during the recent Lebanon/Israel war) doesn't truly penetrate the still vastly greater audience and influence of the MSM.

Powered by Blogger