Wednesday, October 4

The Meta-Story

Much of the focus on the whole Rainville story has become more about me and how I uncovered it, and so much of it has been about the power of blogs to influence the mainstream media.

I don't think it should be about any of those things. Here's why:

I'm concerned by the number of people who are impressed by my amazing Google skills. This is not a talent. It's not even a skill. It's just copying some words from text posted on the web, putting them into Google and seeing what happens. Try it yourself. Try it with the phrase "The squares marked A and B are the same shade of gray" and you'll see that I took those exact words from a very cool site about an optical illusion.

This isn't about the blogosphere rising up to get the mainstream media to focus on something. I found this information on Sunday night. I posted it on the blog because it was easiest (and because there's a comments field, in case anyone wanted to respond), but I could just as easily have placed it on any one of my websites. If I'd done this, would anyone be framing it in terms of blogs or the blogosphere?

This wasn't picked up by mainstream media because I posted it on my blog. This was picked up by mainstream media because I sent an e-mail out to everyone I could think of who worked for a paper with which I was familiar, and used the blog as an information archive. Mainstream media was all over the story more quickly than most bloggers, and the one blogger who was on it quickly (Peter Freyne) got the story because he was affiliated with Seven Days, one of the newspapers to which I sent the original story.

Blogs are very important, and I think they've provided some valuable resources, but this particular story is not about blogs, nor is it about me. It's about a candidate with manufactured talking points who only seems to have a surface understanding of the ideas she's using to pretend her independence.

1 comment:

odum said...

I think you're mistaken about that. I just don't think it's so matter-of-fact that blogs were the medium. Whether or not the GMD post lit a fuse, you followed it, posted it on a blog for the world to reference, sent it to Freyne who posted it on a blog, and all the political blogs from here up to DailyKos reported on it. By the time (only a few hours) the non-Freyne media got it, there was already considerable buzz - and that blog-driven buzz made it a bigger story. Had you been just one person putting your findings in a letter and sending it to reporters, it may or may not have been picked up. But everyone was talking, it fueled a buzz, the Dems jumped on it and suddenly it's front page material.

At the very least, you have to admit that the greater internet culture enabled your great work. Without search engines, the research would likely have been too much work. Without email, it may not have been as timely.

Remember - you sent this out Sunday night. The papers could have therefore jumped on it for Monday morning, but Freyne blogged on it, then all of us did too. The medium and the process by which your story made it to such prominence are hardly incidental... and I think that will be borne out in coming weeks as we're going to see more and more people inspired by this story go and use the blogging medium to put up their own stories that the traditional media are missing.