Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Blog you!
Vi Blogges - blog you (rather than see you) - is the headline of an article by the administrative director of Dagbladet as he writes about the new concept in the paper: their weblog. Their new weblog is frequently updated and organised chronologically, and has links. Sadly, since it's written by several different journalists and it basically links to the paper's own news, it's badly organised and can at present not compete with the better organisation of the online paper.

Rune Røsten, publisher and director at Dagbladet, mentions something else which is interesting - and perhaps a little alarming.

Vi ønsker også å bidra aktivt til demokratiseringen av nettet og vi har som ambisjon å tilby webloggverktøy for deg som bruker. Dette arbeidet er vi ikke helt ferdig med ennå, men vi lover å komme snart tilbake slik at også du kan lage din personlige avis. (We wish to contribute actively to the democratisation of the net, and our ambition is to offer a weblog tool for you as user. this work is not quite finished yet, but we promise to return so that you can make your own personal newspaper.)

Now that is interesting. Dagblades doesn't just wish to offer commentary blog style as several of the large, international newspapers as well as independent journalists do (and CNN's reporter Kevin Sites has stopped doing), but to build an arena within the paper where their audience - or more politically correct, their users - can create their own newspapers. This neatly follows up on Rune Røsten's concern about weblogs as source and competitor:

Riktignok er det ikke slik webloggene vil sette CNN og medier på sidelinjen. De aller fleste weblogger har slett ikke det som mål, men fungerer som private dagbøker eller løpende forskningsnotater bare for å nevne noen av anvendelsesmulighetene. Imidlertid er det likevel slik at webloggens kraft er noe etablerte medier må ta hensyn til, både som konkurrenter og ikke minst som kilde. (It isn't likely that weblogs will put CNN and other media on the sideline. Morst weblogs do not aim at that, but are private diaries or running research notes just to mention some ways to use them. But it's still true that the power of the weblog is something established media need to take seriously, both as competition and not the least as source.)

By offering a blogging tool within the confines of Dagbladet, rather than pointing to for instance blogger or movable type, the paper attempts to make allies of the potential, future competition. The power of the blogg is to be harnessed in service of the established media. If you buy the line of media as the fourth power of the state and absolutely neccessary for a functioning democracy, this is perhaps a good thing. If you, like me, is notoriously skeptic of the idealism of any established power and suspect them all to exist mainly to conserve their own activity level, then the thought of media-controlled blogs is suddenly not quite as sweet. I can't help asking: Who benefits. Let us just hope it is the user of digital media.

(By way of an email from Trygve)
(For an other post on this topic, in Norwegian, read JonBlogg, 30th of April)

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