Blogging is fun and reading blogs is a great source of information and a great way for debating topics and exchanging views on certain issues. I have recently had several chats with people who are not yet into blogosphere and who wonder whether it's worth entering or whether it's – bluntly spoken – a waste of time.
The success of blogging is amazing, I think. But it's not really surprising. I see blogging as well as all the other web 2.0 technologies of collaboration and social networking very much as a new level in what the German sociologist and philosopher Juergen Habermas called The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. And I would be as presumptions to say that with blogging and the access to information and the exchange of information over the internet we are entering a new era of enlightenment. Blogs and networking platforms are a modern form of what the Salons were in the 18th century.
Similarly, the success of blogging lies – at least partly – in the fact that blogging very much follows a centuries old maxim of writing. Derived from Horace's Ars poetica, line 333, the classicist writers and the public in the 17th and 18th century gave out the objectives of prodesse et delectare – “to be of use and to entertain” – for writing. Successful bloggers accommodate exactly that: they share useful information and provide useful, innovative thinking and at the same time they are extremely funny, witty and entertaining.
Writers and especially bloggers and internet users in general in our time have very much grasped the success factor of “prodesse et delectare”. In the flood of texts and information primarily those people are read which are able to attract their readers in some way. This means that rhetoric and it's instruments and what is called poetics are back on the agenda.
Blogging is powerful. The comparison to the age of enlightenment might sound heretical to some. But the blogosphere is read and heard and its role in influencing the development of public opinion making is constantly increasing.
Blogging has established its role in public discourse. It's the young, energetic, independent digitally educated people that heavily use the instrument of blogging and of social networking for discussing items of public interest.
Blogging and social networking will change the way our societies work and how social systems are transforming. Blogging and social networking are on the forefront of eParticipation and eDemocracy. And these new forms of communication and networking break the traditional constellations of the public, the poltical sphere, the media, etc.
There are opportunities and risks, for sure. But in the light of democracy blogging certainly is a new step towards a more open society. Blogging increasingly unveils our societies' potential for creative, innovative thinking and provides a new platform for public discourse.
So the response to those sceptical about blogging should probably be: embrace it, get involved, and find your personal way and style to join in playing in the public sphere. Don't ignore it, you will miss a lot of creativity and insights if you do so.