Excuse a "meta" post before we get back to the bankruptcy action. It's been a pretty active day - this weblog didn't exist a few days ago, and today it was mentioned live on two cable tv shows and a radio show (that I know of). I don't even have blogads up yet.
There's been an odd pulse to this bankruptcy issue. There's been a bit of swagger and confidence lately in the blogosphere because of all the coverage of Rather, Guckert, and Eason. I don't exactly think it was about overconfidence, but realizing that the blogosphere kind of missed the boat on the Senate bankruptcy vote elicited a collective feeling that ran counter to that swagger. It didn't jibe.
And I think it just bugged a lot of us. Others have written about why we didn't affect the process as much as we think we could have. My own theory is that thus far, the blogosphere has a lot of the same qualities as the open source community. It's the sexy things that get the attention. Programmers will write fancy desktop software for free no problem. But they haven't come up with open source tax software.
The bankruptcy bill just wasn't sexy. It took us a while to look at it voluntarily. It was civic duty alone that revved us up, and it took us a while to get around to it.
I think there's some collective realizations to be made here. First is that the blogosphere is, in a sense, representatives of the public. We are the citizens that somehow, as a group, can get Congress's ear without having to go through a PAC. We're elected by our readers, and the elected positions we hold change all the time as our popularity rises and ebbs. It's very much the kind of "emergent democracy" that Joi Ito writes about all the time.
And, the second - again, just my opinion - is that this isn't as free a game as it first seems. It's not as simple as just choosing to focus on what we want to focus on. Make fun of me for alluding to Spider-Man, but we manage to gain a bit of power, and with that power comes responsibility. There's a civic duty we have to keep tabs and do research, on behalf of others. We have some responsibility to protect the public's interest, and in cases like the bankruptcy bill, we're more trusted than Congress. I think knowing this helps explain why there's been such appetite to form a coalition, even while we hurl so much poison at each other on other days.
It's of course impossible to force or create a direction towards which the entire blogosphere will flow, but I wonder if we'll be seeing more of a push to identify more blogs that are guardians of the public trust for particular issues, or more blog-funded nonpartisan research. There's a lot of different possible forms, but the point is that if there is a growing recognition that: Congress isn't there for the public, that someone has to be, and that blogs can be... then, that demand will be met somehow. I imagine we'll be seeing cross-blogosphere coalitions more often.
This weblog will continue to be about the intersection of politics and technology, which will often involve nonpartisan subjects, of interest to both (all) sides of the political blogosphere. I invite you to check in regularly.
Posted by tunesmith at March 10, 2005 07:32 PM
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