Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fourth Essay: Blogging

With millions of cultures around the world, is it hard to believe that one is being created in front of our very eyes? People today are a part of something exceptional, the Internet blog. The blog has many facets. Informing countless individuals in mere seconds before traditional newspapers have the ability to even print a single page of news. Blogs have the ability foster a central idea, in order for a community to form around that main idea. Author and commenter in the public sphere seem to blur. Ultimately, determining the grey area comes down to ones own perception. The Internet blog, created by one individual serves as a jumping off point to countless others, allowing them to “pay it forward” or contribute back to the community.

Over the course of two week’s time, I examined the blog, Engadget. Having chosen one of the top technology blogs on the Internet I was well aware that I would be receiving much more than just news entries. Engadget is a subsidiary of Weblogs Inc, who happens to be owned by AOL, who is owned by the biggest fish, TimeWarner. In the simplest sense a multinational corporation owned the blog that I had chosen. But, I was not examining the vertical or horizontal structure that Aaron Barlow mentions in his book. I was trying to determine if those visiting the blog and commenting went full circle back to the entries.

My first real encounter with the community showed me that a full circle does exist, albeit in some way. Those commenting on Engadget are not permitted to edit the actual story, but those who operate the blog do read the comments in case an error was made in one of their entries. The community was not accepting the entry as actually news and argued against the piece until it had actually been corrected. Engadget, having the ability to correct the blog almost instantaneously, nearly come off as if they are infallible. Yet, Engadget replies to the individuals and thanks for their assistance. I believe such honesty by a blog, makes individuals want to read the blog and contribute back knowing they are improving the community. Improvements are possible since, ”blog communities tend me be much more narrow (Barlow, 2008),” and in this case we are dealing with “technology junkies" who watch their blogs and news sources almost constantly from their phones, as well as other devices.

Having brought up “technology junkies” in my observations. I must say that some of these individuals, better known under the phrase, “fanboys” make browsing the blog comical, as well as interesting. Fanboys, an Internet term, are individuals who are passionate for a certain brand or company, but who allow their passion overtake common sense. Engadget happens to be filled with countless fanboys, especially on topics surrounding the technology companies, Apple and Microsoft. Some individuals see these two companies as good and evil, depending upon your perception. Why talk about these individuals? Well, their passion adds a balance to entries. There is no doubt in my mind that most blogs on the Internet have an Apple lean, while Microsoft is either vilified. Engadget is no different. Having these Microsoft fanboys constantly speak their mind, allows those reading the article to ultimately read both sides of the story, half from the actual blog itself, and the other from the community, which is filling in the gaps. Yet, at times these confrontations between fanboys result in fights, almost similar to the ones that occurred on Digg (Barlow, 2008). Although, fighting one another might seem not seem important, it is the fight the changes the mood of the community.

Engadget allows individuals to either rate highly or negatively of a person’s comment. It may come as no surprise, that on high profile Apple and Microsoft entries, most of the comments are voted negatively because it often erupts into bickering. This hurts the full circle of contribution. But if one was to stand back and just read some of these comments, on the surface they would be comical, yet they would also to a degree have some truth. This truth is according to the person’s own views, viewing them individually is quite harmful, but having 30 different ones posted in a row allows others to achieve a certain understanding of the information. Fanboys are the minority on Engadget. The vast majority seems to ignore such passioniate individuals and is rewarded by having their comment positively rated.

It is hardly fair to state that this is the only way the community contributes. In all fairness to the Engadget community I feel the latter is far more helpful to the blog. Sure, verifying information and ensuring it is correct to get the right information out is needed, but reading the comments of some individuals allows others to see a counter to the story so a decision can be made. Simply by reading the comments, you as a reader are questioning certain ideals put forward in the blog (Barlow 2008). Questioning technology information on Engadget, which is in the public sphere, is exactly what is permitted otherwise it would not be public. After all it is what the public sphere is about.

Blogs like Engadget in the simplest form are text and nothing more. It is with our own perceptions that make these texts into stories that cultivate a viewpoint. With this view we can share it with the entire world allowing our voice to be heard. There is always a full circle of contributing information, in the end it depends on how one perceives information in our real life culture and attempting to extend it to the culture surrounding the Internet blog.


Barlow, Aaron. (2008). Blogging America. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

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