Saturday, September 11, 2004

Barbarian bloggers at the gates

Belmont Club: "The echoes of the big Internet bang which annihilated a 60 Minutes story in under 12 hours are still resounding. The key riffs apparently started at the FreeRepublic and Powerline and as Samizdata notes, the distributed intelligence of the Internet took over. Under the scrutiny of thousands of analysts, the CBS story began to melt down."

Again Wretchard's fine prose got me thinking. It's no wonder that oppressive regimes, such as those in China, Iran and Saudi Arabia feel threatened by, and seek to hinder, their citizens' unfettered access to the World Wide Web. The business of journalism has entered an entirely new paradigm. It's no longer a matter of a few professional journalists, filtered through even fewer editors, deciding what the people need to hear and how they need to hear it. The gatekeepers are now desperately trying to keep out thousands of gate crashers.

Information no longer must pass through one of a half dozen bottlenecks. In genetics, a bottleneck event threatens the survival of a population because variations of traits, helpful towards long-term survival, are reduced. Similarly, media gatekeepers, mired in groupthink for a generation now, have limited the information and perspectives to which the public is exposed, threatening the vitality of Western democracy. Now a new wave of unfettered information and perspectives is threatenening to break the gatekeepers' stranglehold on public discourse and the thought processes of the body politic.

This is why I refer to the mainstream media in connection with the Washington ruling elites as the ancien regime. It simply cannot understand nor cope with the changes, and it would have to become completely inhuman and unscrupulous in order to retain its position of privilege. Will it resort to this? Is it beginning to already? What side will the Republicans take? Will they side with the Democrats in the inevitable push to regulate the Internet "for the good of the people", or will they choose principle over political calculation?