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By Dawson, Stephen | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, December 2002 | Go to article overview

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Dawson, Stephen, Review - Institute of Public Affairs


THE WORLD OF BLOG

One of the luminous early promises of the Web was the removal of constraints from publishing. No longer would those with something to say be held back by the gatekeepers of the traditional media.

There was a large element of truth in this. The beans were spilled, for example, on President Clinton's Oval Office dalliance by one Matt Drudge in his Drudge Report.

Did this kind of thing break the media monopoly? For Drudge it did. In the year to December 2002, he received over one billion visits!

www.drudgereport.com

Web publishing is cheap, but not free. Although Websites are inexpensive, new skills are required. Marking up (that is, formatting) documents using abstruse HTML (HyperText Markup Language) commands and then uploading the documents to a Website is a daunting prospect for many.

But over the past couple of years, a new way of using the Web has emerged: the Blog. This is derived from Web log. Think of a Blog as a personal diary, but with a difference. Instead of being published after you've died (maybe, if after your demise someone considers you worthy of remembrance), you can broadcast its contents to all as you write it.

Blogs can be created by the adept using traditional HTML skills (see Whacking Day below, for example), or using packaged solutions that require neither skill nor money:

www.movabletype.org

www.blogspot.com

As the name itself suggests, Bloggers have developed their own jargon. Blogosphere means the community, perhaps world, of Blogs. Pomo is post modem. Fisk means to take someone else's text, say that of a well-- known journalist who tends to blame all the problems of the world on the United States of America, then analyse it, sentence by sentence, exposing how the silly theme of an article has been constructed by a series of even sillier statements and assumptions. A proper fisking leaves the reader with a clear understanding that the text so fisked was appallingly wrong in every important respect!

ABC WATCH

One of the many significant failings of ABC TV's own Monday night `Media Watch' program is that it seems to be largely unaware that the ABC itself is a media player, and at least as worthy of criticism as the commercial participants. Enter the ABCWatch blog. It may take you a little while to work out who's who: Gastropod seems to be the famous Mr Adams, Uncle is the blog's author, while Auntie is variously the ABC itself and a person with whom Uncle shares a bed. Oh, I get it!

This blog is sometimes frustrating, if only because comments appears just two or three times a week. But when they do, they are excellent:

Memo to Radio National [in respect of an ABC TV program receiving rare approval]: good political discussion requires that the audience can not predict the talent's every response to every political event.

Go to:

www.abcwatch.blogspot.com

ALEX ROBSON

The recent release of a petition arguing, incredibly, that Australia's adhering to the Kyoto protocol would either result in no economic costs or, possibly, an economic boost, was worth-- while in only one respect. It brought out a high-powered petition in opposition. One of the moving forces behind this petition and the supporting op-ed was ANU economist Alex Robson. …

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