Innovation and Impact

Often, innovations arising from technological advances become truly profound only after some kind of commonly available way to leverage their potential emerges.

With the explosion of Internet growth during the 1990s, users sought broader mechanisms for both collaborating and sharing personal information; it was one thing to browse corporate websites or dredge through newsgroups, but with friendlier tools, more numerous providers and increasing old media attention, exponential growth in blogging, the online posting of various logs and journals, was a matter of time. Since, blogging has become an integral part of Internet culture, new media and online communication. From the posting of personal journals and pet pictures up to the influence of political parties and the near-immediate validation of traditional journalism, the impact of this medium has become undeniable.

In its simplest form, blogging is posting of chronological journal entries, with the newest at the top of the page, allowing the viewer to see the most current posts first. There are generally mechanisms to capture review previous periods’ posts in archives and to comment or send trackbacks. Groups of blogs covering similar ideas might group together as communities or provide links to posts with complementary content.

Quality varies as much as can be imagined; content, a key to a blog’s success, can encompass nearly anything, from the personal to the political, the corporate marketing ploy to the technical help site, the news link to the ill-informed rant. Since blogs are now thought to number in the millions, with thousands more joining each day, sorting through to find appropriate and useful content can be challenging. The types of blogs available are numerous and vary from text-based journal entries to video or audio podcasts. With minor investments in equipment, a little internet savvy and some interesting ideas, a successful online presence can be created – likely finding an audience willing to look in unorthodox places for desired content.

But the true power of this concept is not in its passive cool, but the relative impact it has induced. Nearly anyone with Internet access can become a blogger, making this technology seriously innovative – old rules of information gathering are being rewritten by armies of users seeking and trading information on a global scale, more easily than at any time in human history. Even traditional outposts of news – dailies, magazines and opinion journals, for example, now have staff devoted to blogging, not only to keep astride cultural trends, but to circumvent the limitations of a 24-hour news day.

The soldier recording his observations from the front lines in Iraq provides as much descriptive and unfiltered truth as any embedded professional journalist saddled with preconceptions can manage; his worth as a source is realized when the exception, the phony, sources scandal in the alternate. The news anchor’s credibility rouses more intense scrutiny, with a country-sized fact checking department inspired to quickly seek the motivation behind too-good-to-be-true exposures. Presidential campaigns are both supported and hindered by ideologist blog-keepers across the range of the political spectrum, even to the point where debate procedures are changed to accommodate. Even many corporations are developing blog strategies to reach newer audiences, gather consumer feedback and maintain control over their images in the digital world.

Some of the more dramatic instances aside, blogs can generally benefit everyday users – spread-out families can trade news, consumers can check out product reviews, hobbyists can interact with others of their interest, the uses are myriad. And the reach is global and immediate. There are some definite benefits, for both bloggers and their readers. With the unbelievable array of sources available today, consumers don’t have to settle for what they are told, by any means. Bloggers can link to and develop impressive depth of information gathering and analysis, placing a wealth of intelligence at reader disposal. Links have the potential to reach millions, changing the way information is delivered in today’s world. Businesses can leverage these trends to promote themselves, earn money and generate product interest.

According to recent statistics at BlogWorld, nearly sixty million Americans read blogs, and almost ten percent of the 150 million U.S. Internet users have reported creating them. Clearly, there is a lot of information being exchanged. As these developments continue, the very ideas of news and reporting will undergo the biggest transformation since the invention of the printing press.

By: John Kelly
Edited By: Bruce A. Tucker