I know this article isn’t new, but it’s new to me and it may be new to you. Jon Udell wrote a concise and tremendously insightful article in InfoWorld entitled The network is the blog, in which he defines a blog in terms of the network it is connected to (the blogosphere). Like the “sound of one hand clapping” blogs have little meaning in a vaccuum, outside of the world of information exchange:
Just as telephones are meaningful only when connected to the telephone network, so blogs are meaningful only when connected to the blog network. Both are carriers of human communication, but where the telephone network is essentially fixed — at least for now, until VoIP softens its structure — the blog network is malleable and is shaped by our use of it. It’s more like a nervous system than a computer network, and for good reason.
The crush of information we process every day creates a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, we must conserve the scarce resource of attention. On the other hand, we need to become aware of everything that matters. It’s a tricky balancing act, but one that nature’s humblest creatures have adroitly mastered. The real-time visual processing performed by insects, as described by Tom Daniel in his PopTech lecture this fall, is just one example of how efficiently biological systems can crunch data.
We can’t say exactly how the trick is done, but we understand the basics: a network, a message-passing protocol, nodes that aggregate inputs and produce outputs. The blog network shares these architectural properties. Its foundation network is the Web; its protocol is RSS; its nodes are bloggers. These ingredients combine in ways that are not yet widely appreciated.
That’s why blogging is such an exciting, interactive, social medium. A seemingly unorganized and disconnected group of people create their own blogs from different corners of the globe. But somehow these blogospheres form, these organized little communities created out of seemingly random postings. There is an order in the chaos that no one blogger and yet all of us created. It all makes me excited to be a part of this great big info science experiment.