April 3, 2003 20:34 | Culture / WebBlogging

Some points he's missing

"The Register" writer Andrew Orlowski misses a few points, and makes some fair ones, in his article "Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed... in 42 days".

To all intents and purposes, the original meaning has been erased. Obliterated, in just seven weeks.

He's referring to the term "Second Superpower", as used by James F. Moore in his recent article "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head".
Language and ideas naturally "erode" and or "morph" over time and use. Some examples: historical accounts, religious beliefs, urban myths, pop lyrics. In the arena of instantaneous multi-party communication, which is one of the qualities of weblogging (online conversations, who's only connection to time, ironically, is timestamps), this natural process is accelerated - McLuhan would say - at the speed of light.
Mr. Olowski's contention that the meaning has been "erased" and "obliterated" is his opinion, which is debatable. An inevitable result of hyper-acceleration of communication coupled with sound-byte culture is, afterall, the cliché: a phrase who's original notion and context has been lost. However, with Weblogging, it is not really lost: it is all still there, recorded. It's just a question of taking off the "Google-goggles", or any other blinders, be they technological or social. (Trackbacks, by the way, are a great way of doing this: maintaining the links in the chain.)
As with Moore, academic and historical research in this field is vapored away, as if by magic.

I agree and disagree here. While I do not know Moore's or Ito's academic, historical or scientific "worth", I too can recognize the fact that, naturally, they are not all knowing and that what they write is limited by their own experience. However, they are CONTRIBUTING to the CONVERSATION, and in many cases, starting it. This is INVALUABLE. The fact that they achieve high "PageRanks" serves all the better to get more people with other experiences to join in. Keep in mind, weblogging with this kind of intent is very young and the tools still rudimentary. We are all still in awe of how effective and fast this is now. Imagine 6 months, a year, 10 years from now - 42 days will seem like an eternity. Heck it already does!
Pew Research Center's latest research says the number of Internet users who look at blogs is " so small that it is not possible to draw statistically meaningful conclusions about who uses blogs." They peg it at about four per cent. But we're looking at a small sub-genre of blogdom, the tech blogs, and specifically, we're looking at an 'A list' of that sub- sub-genre.

What did I just say? It has only just begun! And allow me to correct: it is not "tech-blogs". We are seeing lawyers, economists, political thinkers, marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, academics etc etc, slowly but surely joining the fray. Granted, they mostly come from tech-related milieus, but this is to be expected. The term "early-adopters" applies still. Imagine if Silicon Investor offered free and easy Weblogs for all it's subscribers... Oh look! Dave Winer is now at Harvard! What's that? He's pushing the use of Weblogs there? FANTASTIC!

Criticism is welcome, preferably constructive criticism. Especially when it comes from someone who is part of the conversation. So let's have it Mr. Andrew Orlowski. When can we expect your voice, and sharp mind, to truly join the debate?