Is it jut me or is George Will seeming a bit testy over blogger? Have too many bloggers (both us amateurs and the his professional colleges) called him to task over his reporting on the Webb and Bush "conversation"?
Richard Stengel, Time's managing editor, says, "Thomas Paine was in effect the first blogger" and "Ben Franklin was essentially loading his persona into the MySpace of the 18th century, 'Poor Richard's Almanack.' " Not exactly.
Franklin's extraordinary persona informed what he wrote but was not the subject of what he wrote. Paine was perhaps history's most consequential pamphleteer. There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves for their own satisfaction. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is nothing demanding or especially admirable about it, either. They do it successfully because there is nothing singular about it, and each is the judge of his or her own success.
From what I have seen of the Blogs, the ratio of Franklins & Paines to the run of the mill publisher of that day is probably pretty close to equal among bloggers today. It is just that with 100 million blogs to winnow thru, you are gonna read a lot of chaff. That doesn't make the chaff any less important to the ones who put it out "there". If by putting themselves on the line even a little bit someone is able to articulate what it is they are trying to accomplish, then they have helped someone, if only themselves.
As for me, I'm off to winnow some chaff looking for that nugget of a new Ben or Thomas...