Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Summit Reaction Follow-Up: Influence Who?

After re-reading my post from yesterday on the influence of issue-oriented blogging, it struck me that I never got into who I think issue-oriented blogging should influence.

A logical reaction could assume I was referring to policymakers since issue-oriented blogging is essentially aimed at policy. But that's not what I meant.

The influence I was talking about for issue-oriented blogging, rather, is aimed at the public.

As I noted in yesterday's post, I feel -- in addition to the influence of money -- the biggest problem with politics today is its commercialization, which has been largely driven by an understandably (to an extent) business-minded media that's increasingly substituted short soundbites and emotionally-driven content for hard-hitting critical news pieces.

In other words, much of the news media today puts out pieces intended for reactive consumption, not reflective engagement.

The beauty of the blogosphere is that the engagement piece is already built into the medium in the form of comments, trackbacks, links, etc. I do feel more could be done to make the blogosphere more reflective than reactive, but, on the whole, there's at least the strong possibility for reflective engagement in blogging.

So when I call for the increased influence of issue-oriented blogging, I mean influence on the people, not the politicians. I think the blogosphere, ideally, can serve as a model for how to critically engage issues of the day in a way that most of the consumption-driven mainstream media can't or, at least, doesn't.

To be sure, when I write a post on health care reform, I'm not really speaking to politicians -- at least, that's not my intention. Instead, my goal is to influence my everyday readers to engage critically with the issue, regardless of whether that results in them agreeing with me (although that would be nice).

From that point, the goal could transition into having the critically engaged public exert a stronger influence on policymakers, especially in relation to the special interest money that seems to be having a stronger and stronger effect on politicians as the years go by. However, it's my belief that this type of transition would mostly happen naturally once the public is engaged. So not just information, but the critical engagement with information would be power.

Thus, in this sense, blogging is merely a catalyst for influencing policy, it's not the actual influencing force.

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Blogger will andrew said...

I definitely agree. The blogging community, for better or worse, should be aimed to get the people thinking and questioning.

It's unfortunate that blogs don't have the instant appearance factor of tv and print ads, but there's at least the hope that people who are smart enough to seek out the information are able to find it, in a reasonable form, here.

And if the discussion can start here, then it can be taken and built upon outside of the web. The trick is going to be getting the public eye to focus here rather than the Greek chorus of most of the righty blogs and reports.

May 01, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Thanks for your comment, Will.

I agree the state/local righty blogs have a better sound system than the left, at least here in Milwaukee, due largely to talk radio. But I also think more can be done on both sides to simply increase reflection and decrease reaction in the blogosphere. If blogs simply get caught up in the same partisan soundbites and talking points regurgitation game that the political parties have suckered the mainstream media into through 24/7 cable news punditry, they'll sacrifice much of the democratizing potential that's inherent within the blogosphere.

What needs to be emphasized in the blogosphere is the process of critical engagement rather than the output of content. It's like when I was a teacher, I didn't really care much about what students knew about topics come test time, I cared about how they thought about those topics. While there's certainly going to be some partisanship or, at least, ideology in all political projects, the goal should be to deemphasize it as much as possible, at least initially.

May 02, 2007  

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