Traditional media seems to be at a loss as to this whole blogging/online world - what does it all mean and is it journalism or news or online gossip or what?
The best way I know to describe it is -- an online, real-time (though sometimes not) on-going discussion of news and events and personal accounts of the day-to-day world and public presentation of ideas and thoughts, all shared and broadcast outside the traditional media. No radio signals or publishing or televising traditions are followed.
Some who participate intensely follow the news, some share recipes for cupcakes, share pictures of kitties, detail their personal agonies and ecstasies, rant and rave or cheer and praise any and every thing imaginable. There simply is no nailing down of this mercurial online blob of activity. What I do know is the online world is really starting to bother the typical media outlets. As noted here on this post from MCB.
What I have found is that many (like me) read both online news sources and other blogs and we write and discuss those things, often linking readers directly to what we have read. Some folks do report on activities they have seen or participated in themselves. Some simply satirize or just insult and deride the various topics of the moment or the day or rail against pet peeves. There are many, many opinions offered. Finding validity or importance to any of it is a rather personal thing. In other words, the traditional yardsticks used to determine worth just do not apply.
The online world is a new and constantly evolving world, often the subject of stinging criticism from the same media sources it both by-passes and utilizes. I often wonder if the news and magazine or radio/tv sources will decide to stop providing free links to info and start charging high fees or mandatory and closed memberships. Some news media outlets, such as CNN, now offer a daily or minute by minute update from online users who capture images and information via cell phones or video cams. The recent YouTube presidential debate is a good example of finding free sources for news outlets and businesses.
Writing here on this blog is often a perplexing act -- I am one of literally billions of online voices, a small wave in a thousand-mile whirl of a hurricane racing across the planet. I may have some impact on a wave right next to me, but none on the waves miles and miles away.
Still, I peck away on this keyboard and inject it into the blogosphere, like everyone else, not knowing for certain where it will land or if it will land at all.
And your perception of whether the online talk is a billion jabbering ones and zeros signifying nothing or a vital new world of human interaction all depends on what point you perceive from. Reading online is a participation, not an outside peeking-in, because the reading requires a technology which you must engage and disengage in order to read it at all. It's a new thing.
But the value of it all -- that remains mostly a decision you must make. And as this activity continues to grow and expand, I think that critical viewpoint of determining value or worth is also now being turned toward the traditional media, and what many have found is how lacking said media has been.
Your thoughts and mileage may vary.
UPDATE: Press releases today are heralding a first-of-its-kind World Bloggers Convention this fall in Las Vegas... except bloggers not attached to a media company can NOT attend.