Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Irksome Internet

A lot has been written in the past several years about the 'net and its effect on politics and political dialogue. Blogs have become increasingly important tools for debate and discussion, and as a means for voter mobilization (cf. Dean for America). But what exactly are the net effects (apologies for the bad pun)?

More and more, as I travel around the blogosphere I see, by and large, the same sort of debates that are in the editorial pages and opinion journals printed on paper. That is to say, most sites are either Left or Right and their readers are of the same persuasion as the author(s), in general. What this tends to reinforce is the echo chamber effect and stifles critical inquiry. When a major news story breaks, I can visit Instapundit for the Right's take and DailyKos for the Left's.

But where does one find decent, rational policy analysis in the blogosphere? It is conspicuously absent. All that is there, in the mean, are the typical reactionary responses. So how is this any different than the Right spin I will get from The Wall Street Journal or the Left lean from The New York Times? Is political dialogue and discourse any better off for the internet and blogs? I am not sure that it is, if we use the metric of rational debate as the standard.

However, blogs undoubtedly do serve some purpose. They provide a sense of community for like minded individuals. Also, many blogs are informative and point their readers to other sites and news sources. Some blogs serve as daily briefing books, while others cover single issue areas in depth.

To me, blogs provide an opportunity to read other folks' opinions on issues of the day and to find other sources of information on matters that I care about. However, there is only so much blog reading I can do in a day before I become disenchanted with much of the pedestrian analysis and reliance on stale rhetoric that fails to reveal anything about the truth.


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