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Wednesday, December 20, 2006


George "not a genius" Will denigrates bloggers

George Will has an op-ed today entitled, "100 million bloggers won't be equal to one Thomas Paine."

He starts by making this claim:

Time magazine asked a large number of people to name the Person of the Year. They were in a populist mood and named the largest possible number of Persons of the Year: Everybody.
Readers of this blog know that's wrong on two counts. First, those who named the Time POTY weren't "a large number of people," they were a small elite group selected by Time. Second, as we all know, Time did ask a "large number of people" through their online poll, and those people named the person who really deserved the title - Hugo Chavez.

Will attempts to denigrate blogging by noting:

76 percent of bloggers say one reason they blog is to document their personal experiences and share them with others. And 37 percent -- soon, 37 million -- say the primary topic of their blog is "my life and experiences."
First of all, there's nothing wrong with documenting or sharing your personal experiences - people have been doing that for centuries. The fact that they can now do so instantaneously and publicly doesn't change things.

More important is what Will doesn't note - even if we assume that 76 percent of bloggers have nothing of general interest to say, that leaves 24 percent of 100 million people - 24 million people! - who are blogging about topics of general interest. I'm not sure what percentage of the population are "geniuses," but surely there must be many geniuses in a group of 24 million people. As it happens, according to an IQ test I took back in first grade (yes, that was a long time ago), I'm one of them. So what? You don't have to be a genius to have something important to say! Who is to say that one of the more erudite of current bloggers, genius or not, blogging in 1776, wouldn't have been the equivalent of Benjamin Franklin or Tom Paine? And surely, one can have important things to say even if one is not the equivalent of a Franklin or a Paine!

Which brings us to yet another misconception Will seems to be laboring under - that all these 100 million blogs are just out there together in one equal mix. Of course readers of this blog know that's nonsense. Quality, uniqueness, established reputation, or whatever other characteristic is relevant, causes blogs to be very much differentiated from one another. In the Truth Laid Bare rankings, this blog, with 695 visits/day, currently ranks 1057th in popularity. The 5000th blog only gets 75 visits/day; imagine how few the other 99,995,000 blogs get! (Again, not that there's anything wrong with that - if you write a blog about your own life, and only your friends and family read it, or if no one but yourself reads it and it serves only as your personal diary, what's wrong with that?)

Will, like most people being paid to share his opinions in public, has a visceral fear of those who do so for free. Be afraid, George Will, be very afraid. YOUR lack of "genius" is on display for all the world to see. Reporters will never be replaced by bloggers. Columnists like George Will most definitely will be.

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