With the ability for an individual to publish anything and everything on the Internet, many questions and issues have come up as a result. Supporters of free flow of information and universal access that is available via the Internet view the blogosphere as a great asset to democratic societies. The theoretical marketplace of ideas has grown, and anyone with access to a computer and Internet can let their voice be heard.
But does the fact that an average citizen can publicly publish their thoughts and opinions mean their voice is worth hearing? Along with all the great and insightful individual ideas that can enjoy public exposure, there comes a lot of content that contributes nothing to the “conversation of society,” so to speak. Comment sections that accompany blogs or online newspaper articles allow for insightful and intelligent discussions but are often ruined due to the large amount of unthoughtful comments intended to provoke reactions. It is also much easier for false information to spread on the Internet and can be accepted as fact before it is challenged.
Of course, the blogosphere has brought the voices of key individuals to the public forefront. There’s the writer Salam Pax, who blogged almost daily from Baghdad at the start of the Iraq war, giving the world details of what was happening on the ground with a very personal and emotional focus. The story found on Salam Pax’s blog framed the war with a lens that would not be seen in major news publications. His story was also posted in real time, a factor that the blog venue offered that a book or memoir could not. Not only has the blogosphere been used to tell compelling accounts of current events, but there are many expert writers who aim to educate, inform, and stimulate educated discussion through their blogs that they would not be able to share otherwise.
So what is the best way to sift through the unnecessary fluff of the Internet and find the gems of online publishing? Search engines like Google definitely help with this, but it is also up to the millions of users to think about what they post, whether it be on a blog, a comment section, or Facebook. The opportunity to share your thoughts and voice with the world does not mean you should clutter cyberspace with empty claims and impetuous statements. The Internet, and blogosphere specifically, can be used to educate, connect, create, and widen horizons. Let’s work to keep it that way.