Throw Things Out on the Web, and Google--or, Rather, the Distributed Information-Processing System that Is the Actively-Linking Webloggers of the World--Will Organize Them
Andrew Samwick hits on an important principle of decentralized information processing systems:
Vox Baby: Eventually, We All Blog for Google: Yesterday, the Rockefeller Center hosted a blogging panel, moderated by John Hinderaker of Powerline and comprised of Ann Althouse, Brendan Nyhan, Laura Clawson, Roger Simon, Joe Malchow, and Andrew Seal. It was a very productive discussion.I came away with two main points.
First, as noted particularly by Nyhan, Clawson, and Seal, there is very little that is inherent in blogging that makes it a superior form of commentary to traditional forms. We should think of them as complementary, and, as some of the other panelists pointed out, incremental to traditional media. The lower cost of blogging as compared to other media outlets means that the set of people who can contribute is much wider. There have been episodes where it has been a blogger, possibly in conjunction with blog readers, who has brought to light new information that would have otherwise been missed. Most of the time, this is not happening, and there is very little that is new in blogs. Good writers get bigger audiences, just like any other form of writing. But it is nice to have another mechanism that can occasionally make a critical difference.
Second, I began to think about what happens to blogs after the current events fade in importance. Well, then each post is just a webpage, and to a reasonable approximation, all webpages are eventually relevant only insofar as they attract the attention of search engines. I noted in one of my very first posts that I found Powerline about four years ago because I was searching for an explanation of a news story. In other words, I found them through Google. At some point, Google organizes everything in the blogosphere around what people years from now will find interesting and worth searching.
But is it a good thing for Andrew Samwick to discover the existence of Powerline?