Andrew Sullivan reflects in an essay in this month’s Atlantic about how blogging has evolved for him. I don’t usually read Sullivan, but this is well put together:
These friends, moreover, are an integral part of the blog itselfsources of solace, company, provocation, hurt, and correction. If I were to do an inventory of the material that appears on my blog, Id estimate that a good third of it is reader-generated, and a good third of my time is spent absorbing readers views, comments, and tips. Readers tell me of breaking stories, new perspectives, and counterarguments to prevailing assumptions. And this is what blogging, in turn, does to reporting. The traditional method involves a journalist searching for key sources, nurturing them, and sequestering them from his rivals. A blogger splashes gamely into a subject and dares the sources to come to him.
Fellow bloggers are always expanding this knowledge base. Eight years ago, the blogosphere felt like a handful of individual cranks fighting with one another. Today, it feels like a universe of cranks, with vast, pulsating readerships, fighting with one another. To the neophyte reader, or blogger, it can seem overwhelming. But there is a connection between the intimacy of the early years and the industry it has become today. And the connection is human individuality.
Sullivan’s perspective is as a journalist-turned-online writer. On a related topic, I can point you to an essay by Warren Bonesteel, titled “Social Singularity”:
We're already witnessing the decline of unquestioned (and almost) religious respect for those who have lengthy CV's, high social status and other traditional credentials. We're also seeing a rise in creativity and in the sharing of ideas. There are even now growing trends in multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving, no matter the venue or discipline. There also appears to be a growing trend towards Open Source works in nearly every discipline, particularly among those who wish to make the world a better place to live. Most of mankind's traditional institutions are so far behind the curve on these issues that they will never see it coming.
Both essays reflect the optimism of the medium, possibly much too much so. But I’m reminded of a well-known twist on an Arthur C. Clarke quote: “When a scientist says something is possible, he is probably underestimating how long it will take. But when a scientist says something is impossible, he is probably wrong.”