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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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June 21, 2006

Is "Blogswarming" a New Journalism?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

The heart of this story appears to be one very stupid (and accused-of-corruption) Republican state governorship trying to block access to a blog critical of the establishment. The catalyst for this idiocy was apparently a front-page story in the New York Times that both criticized the governor of Kentucky and mentioned the blog, BlueGrassReport.org.

Prior to an hour ago I'd never heard of this blog, nor of the troubles of the KY state administration. But the blogsphere takes care of its own, and the censorship got mention in Daily Kos and Boing Boing, among other places. BlueGrassReport's author, Mark Nickolas, is probably well on his way to becoming a minor blog celebrity.

So what does this have to do with Copyfight? My eye was caught by Nickolas' use of a word I'd never seen before: blog-swarm. In Copyfight, we've debated around ideas of whether bloggers are journalists, whether they ought to be entitled to protections traditionally afforded to other kinds of journalists, and how the actions of bloggers are what make them journalists, not any particular label.

So when I saw "blog-swarm" images filled my mind of the old days when reporters would rush to cover a story, then rush to the nearest phone booth to call the story in. On the one hand, there's cachet in the blog world for having a story originally, or being the first to note something of import - the 'scoop'. On the other, there's a notion that a story deemed important enough to be carried in several major blogs is something that people ought to pay attention to. I think that's interesting and important and even if it's not particularly dignified to be part of a "swarm" it's kind of cool to try and throw my weight behind an effort to move one boulder of injustice and possibly, in doing so, to establish that yes, bloggers have that kind of weight to throw.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Speech


COMMENTS

1. Daniel on June 21, 2006 4:49 PM writes...

My blog is one of the ones blocked.

Permalink to Comment

2. Cos on June 21, 2006 5:29 PM writes...

I'm one of the bloggers who swarmed on this one. I've seen the term "blogswarm" used since at least last year. Often, it's a conscious and directed action - when a coalition of bloggers decide to agree on something and use their collective influence to push the story into the traditional media. It's a way of taking a story that should be important, but is being ignored (in bloggers' opinions) or underreported, and raising its profile, and if enough blogs get in on it, it often works. Those sorts of blogswarms often take days or weeks. What happened here was more spontaneous: A bunch of bloggers saw one of their own threatened, and wanted to make sure this got some attention.

Permalink to Comment

3. tish grier on June 22, 2006 7:40 AM writes...

Hi Alex,

The term "blogswarm" is kind of like "slashdotted" and "instalanched" and has been around for a bit. I've heard it used in reference to shutdowns of business blogs (a gourmet cooking blog that was slashdotted and then blogswarmed). Blogswarming could be said for what happened to the Washington Post in January (when a "swarm" of negative comments shut down them down for a bit.) As with lots terms that occur in the blogosphere, it morphs a bit according to who's decided to use it and in what context it's been used.

As to whether bloggers are journalists--journalism is more of a process involving alot of input into the finished product. That process polishes a piece in a certain way. What most bloggers do is different--we are on our own and don't have the luxury of time or editors to help us polish what we do. Yes, we can watch what we do (make sure we have our sources right, etc.)--but we have some limitations. Eventually and if we desire, some of us might cross over into journalism (once again, personal choice). The bigger challenge may be for journalists to be bloggers and to publish without all the editorial oversight.

Permalink to Comment

4. drwex on June 22, 2006 12:38 PM writes...

Thanks for the feedback, guys. I think it's interesting that Cos and tish have different meanings for the term "blogswarm." Obviously, new terms evolve more rapidly than older settled ones.

Permalink to Comment

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