A decade of blogging

In its July 14 edition, The Wall Street Journal comments on the approaching 10th anniversary of the creation of the web log – a.k.a. the blog.

“We are approaching a decade since the first blogger – regarded by many to be Jorn Barger – began his business of hunting and gathering links to items that tickled his fancy, to which he appended some of his own commentary,” writes Journal reporter Tunku Varadarajan.

Barger’s first blog entry was December 23, 1997, Varadarajan says.

Since that date, The Journal notes, blogs have “roiled presidential campaigns and given everyman a global soapbox.”

Varadarajan includes comments about blogs from a dozen luminaries representing a variety of professions. My favorite is by novelist Tom Wolfe, a writer I’ve long admired for his keen perceptions of human nature and current events and his remarkable ability to communicate his observations with razor-sharp wit and insight.

Wolfe isn’t very impressed with blogs. He has the following to say:

“One by one, Marshall McLuhan's wackiest-seeming predictions come true. Forty years ago, he said that modern communications technology would turn the young into tribal primitives who pay attention not to objective ‘news’ reports but only to what the drums say, i.e., rumors.

“And there you have blogs. The universe of blogs is a universe of rumors, and the tribe likes it that way.

“Blogs are an advance guard to the rear. For example, only a primitive would believe a word of Wikipedia (which, though not strictly a blog, shares the characteristics of the genre). The entry under my name says that in 2003 ‘major news media’ broadcast reports of my death and that I telephoned Larry King and said, ‘I ain't dead yet, give me a little more time and no doubt it will become true.’

“Oddly, this news supposedly broadcast never reached my ears in any form whatsoever prior to the Wikipedia entry, and I wouldn't have a clue as to how to telephone Larry King. I wouldn't have called him, in any case. I would have called my internist. I don't so much mind Wikipedia's recording of news that nobody ever disseminated in the first place as I do the lame comment attributed to me. I wouldn't say ‘I ain't’ even if I were singing a country music song. In fact, I have posted a $5,000 reward for anyone who can write a song containing the verb forms ‘am not,’ ‘doesn't,’ or ‘isn't’ that makes the Billboard Top Twenty.”

Wolfe no longer reads blogs because he has become “weary of narcissistic shrieks,” The Journal reports.

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