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Friday, November 12, 2004  

Blogospherics: Blogs failed Election 101

Frank Barnako, media critic at CBSMarketwatch, has done his autopsy of bloggers and the election. Barnako viewed Election Day coverage, weighing the impact of bloggers and traditional media. He compared the pre-election claims of bloggers to what post-election data revealed. The results are not impressive.

WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- No one reads blogs.

Oops! I did it again. Better get under my desk before the e-mail flames arrive.

But when the most popular political blog draws less than 270,000 visitors on Election Day, you've got to ask, "What's the point?" (More traffic reports below.)

"How dare you say such a thing?" "What about the 4 million blogs Technorati is tracking?" "What about the fact that 11 months ago RSS was a geek secret and now it's a bolt-on to My Yahoo?" "What about the 100 million page impressions a month Blogads.com says it delivers?"

All that may be true. It's just that after the presidential election, it appears to me that the only readers of blogs ... are bloggers! They are a good group. Educated and engaged. But they're also like mice in a rotating cage: running in place, bumping into the same old people.

Despite all the anti-Bush screeds on Web logs, the frequent priming of wordy bonfires with Bush's National Guard duty records, the rush to judgment about missing explosives in Iraq ... it just didn't matter. All those opinions. All that Internet buzz. So little impact. Could it be not even bloggers trust what they read on blogs?

. . .Bottom line: Political blogging is like Ralph Nader. Nobody pays attention.

Barnako is more right than not. I've often lamented the echo chamber nature of the blogosphere. Much too often political blogging consists of a trip to Atrios or Daily Kos, if you're allegedly liberal, followed by a more or less verbatim regurgitation of whatever he is saying that day. (And, don't forget the banner. I think it is supposed to read 'reality based' now. Heck. My blog has been reality based all along. And, no one had to tell me to make it that way.) A conservative blogger? Same regimen, only the big bloggers leading the sheep around by the nose are the InstaPundit and Little Green Footballs. I can't think of any reason such behavior would result in insights into the minds of the electorate. If anything, it is guaranteed to reinforce what the bloggers participating already believe and get those who haven't conformed to do so. Blogs are -- when not stagnating at least -- evolving. So, before the election of 2008 rolls around, it is possible they may come to play some meaningful role in disseminating useful information to a more than miniscule share of the electorate. But, for now, voters either don't know or don't care what bloggers have to say.

Read the rest of Barnako's column at CBSMarketwatch. (Membership required. Say no to email or the site will overwhelm your mailbox.)

Reasonably related

Visit Barnako's weblog here.

8:35 PM