You know, it didn't occur to me until recently how amazing and important blogging is. Here is a short list of reasons why I think blogs have changed the world for the better:
1. The Democratization of the Media. Ten years ago, the only way to read--and to report--what was going on in the world was to read The New York Times, and though I still read NYT and the Post online religiously, the truth is it's no longer the only source of news and information out there anymore.
2. No Conflict of Interest. Since every news source is limited by the constraints of the editorial and the advertising department, blogs give us complete and total freedom of speech that can only exist in a world where profit doesn't conflict with truth, whatever that is for each of us.
3. Everyone Participates in the Speed of Information. Since reportage is completely colored by the ideological imprints of the author (or editor) anyway, it makes sense to give every person the microphone to talk about the world from a personal point of view instead of pretending that the truth is something external that we are only allowed to evaluate from the outside, but never create ourselves. Now information can be reported immediately and read by the entire globe within seconds.
4. Everyone Participates in the Selection of Information. The news is created by writers, not by reality. There are a million news-worthy events that happen everyday and yet we only read about a modicum of them since writers and editors decide what news is fit for publication. Blogging gives power back to the people to decide what's really important, and not by replacing news outlets, but by supplementing them.
5. It Saves Trees and Doesn't Create Pollution (Except in Your Head).
6. Blogs don't follow the law of scarcity. The existence of one blog does not preclude the existence of another as it does with newspapers in competitive economic models.
7. Quantity ensures Quality. It doesn't matter that many of the blogs in the blogosphere are badly written, angry, hyperpolitical, scathing, rumor-pushing, celebrity-obsessed monsters. The sheer number of blogs out there means that there will always be good blogs to read.
8. Connection & Outreach. Bloggers not only blog, they read other people's blogs, comment on them and in time, form friendships with other people with similar interests or ideas, something a newspaper never does. Further, blogs help friends and family stay in each other's lives both on a visual and written level. Lastly, blogs can be read by millions of people at one time, regardless of where they live. That's superpowerful.
9. The Celebration of Personal Experience. Blogs are a way of overcoming alienation by putting one's feelings, thoughts and personal experiences out there for others to read, to connect to (and in some cases, judge).
10. Challenging Prejudice. Though there are plenty of racist, prejudiced, derogatory and hateful blogs out there, these thoughts can be challenged by readers of different points of view because complete strangers can make comments, something that doesn't happen when we write vitriol in a paper journal, hiding our poison from the world. Blogs by their nature are invasive, and hatred and prejudice thrive the most when hidden, not exposed.
11. Blogs Teach Us Something. Sometimes we learn about a strike in Peru that the media doesn't talk about or read about Spanish grammar or the intricacies of Argentine Slang, Asado and the importance of the placement of the left hand in Tango. Other times we learn about a relative stranger giving birth to a beautiful baby girl or we find a favorite personal recipe for vegan banana bread that's not sponsored by Chiquita bananas. But in each case, we have the ability to learn something important about our shared humanity.
12. Blogs Cannot Be Burned. Books can be, especially during dictatorships, terrorist scares and Christian temperance crusades.