Technology meets punditry

— John Hiler’s piece on the interactions between blogs and traditional journalism (Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem – How Weblogs and Journalists work together to Report, Filter and Break the News) is the best thing I’ve seen so far on this subject. I was particularly struck by his account of the speed at which the false rumor propagated through the blogs about an ugly new EU flag that looked something like a bar code. 50 blogs picked up the story, but when it was exposed as a fiction, only 5 published corrections. The new flag design was simply a concept, and not one that anybody saluted.

Of course, we see that sort of thing all the time, and while we like to tell ourselves that blogs correct their errors faster and better than journalism, this doesn’t really happen. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on new blogging technologies (“Is Instapundit Over?“) which was reported by Instapundit himself as charging that he was indeed over. His claim was picked up by a dozen or so blogs, and when I challenged them one by one to show me where I’d said that, none of them could.

In a second episode of deception by the same person, now with a chip on his shoulder, an angry libertarian posted this comment on Ben Domenich’s blog in connection with a discussion of the teen sex epidemic: “Ben feels left out when people talk about teen sex, cause he wasn’t getting any!” As the misanthropic libber had been egged-on by Glenn Reynolds comparing himself to Clarence Thomas, I reacted with this play on his name: “‘DS’ apparently stands for “dumb shit”, given the nature of that last comment. Is Glenn Reynolds in favor of teen sex because he gets a lot of it?” Reynolds reported my remark out-of-context from the one I was reacting to, and even out-of-context from his own self-serving and inflammatory comment.

So now the rumor is wildly circulating among Instapundit-fed blogs that I’m saying poor, put-upon Glenn has a sexual fixation on teenagers, and that I hate breastfeeding and lesbians, beat my wife, shoot heroin, and all sorts of other things. Lies get out of hand easily, especially in Blogistan, but there’s generally a malignant force behind them grinding an axe of some sort. But back to the future, our topic.

Hiler believes the Blogoshpere will grow in influence as if becomes more automated:

The Blogosphere isn’t perfect, but it’s the most robust and diverse Media Ecosystem we have. As the mechanisms tying it together grow more and more automated, its collective power and influence will start to approach that of any single newspaper or magazine.

I have to agree with him, and toward that end I put the RoboPundit demonstration on this blog, in the left column. The stories in RoboPundit are harvested automatically from a variety of blogs with different slants, and presented without much editing. This technology lends itself to selection, comparison, cross-linking, and a variety of other forms of sifting that are no longer practical without automation. And these very refinements, which are beyond the scope of traditional journalism, will make blogs the premier vehicle for news and opinion in years to come.

Technology naturally scares those who have a vested interest in the status quo, but one way or another, it always wins out. While it’s been interesting to see traditional journos scream like stuck pigs over the advent of blogging, in the weeks and months to come we’re going to see traditional bloggers scream about the new technology as they sense their impending irrelevance. In fact, we already have.