Flame war! Flame war!! Kevin Marks takes Andrew Orlowski to task for Andy’s piece on how bloggers took the idea of protesters being “the second superpower”, neutered it, and got it to to top of the Google rankings all in the space of 42 days. Then Dave Winer weighs in on the side of Kevin, who included the following quote:
“Perhaps what Orlowski is really worried about is that a group who aren’t part of the clerisy of professional Journalists and activists are taking an interest…”
Now I might be reading Andy wrong, but my impression was that actually what he’s going on about – and what he’s gone on about before – is the ability of a relatively small number of web sites to influence the development of an idea. Because of the high google rankings of people like Dave, Joi Ito and others, a mere mention of a site on their blogs boosts it up the search rankings. Many times, it doesn’t matter. But when they link to a site that subverts or reflects an original idea, they are profoundly influencing future perceptions of that idea.
The scary thing is that they don’t even appear to understand their own influence. Kevin’s piece claims that “Doc and Dave earned their high Google rankings by writing lots of things that people found interesting enough to link to, day after day for many year “. But that in no way means that what they link to now is important, or good, or interesting – it may be, it may not be, but no matter what it carries on having the same influence on people who may not ever have read them.
I just get the feeling that influential bloggers might be reluctant to realise that they are actually now in the “influencing people” game – the same one that “proper” journalists are in.