Monday, June 17, 2002

I'm not quite sure why the authors of this article on blogs (along with Tapped, who linked it) seem to think that the Internet is any less balkanized or divided than Cass Sunstein predicted:

Cass Sunstein, a professor of law at the University of Chicago and the author of, prophesied a few years back that the explosion of individual websites, coupled with sophisticated filtering software, would splinter the populace into increasingly Balkanised special-interest groups...

...[b]ut this hasn't happened. If anything, the Web has led to more, not fewer, "random encounters." Bloggers are just as likely to link to an article they disagree with as to one whose views they share. And the tendency of bloggers to reference each other means that it's easy to find yourself clicking around to new destinations

I get the feeling that the authors mistook the pack mentality of the right side of the blog community as some sort of interaction between different points of view. The "echo chamber" finding links, passing them around, and group-criticizing them (or merely linking back and forth to each other with the occasional critical link to an opposing argument) is exactly the sort of thing that Sunstein was worried about and which has been amply demonstrated by the history of the Internet up until this point. Even the most cursory examination of Internet communities outside of the "blogosphere" will show the presence of the sorts of isolated, relatively ideologically "pure" environments that Sunstein was worried about, and the cliche of the "echo chamber" wouldn't have appeared were it not for the mutually reinforcing beliefs and ideas of the warbloggers.

I'm sorry, but a bunch of ideologues using the same arguments to attack the same Paul Krugman article isn't a real debate.

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