Review: Blog! How the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture – David Kline and Dan Burstein
David Kline and Dan Burstein points out that the blogosphere will transform many areas of politics, business, media and culture. In their book ‘Blog! How the newest media revolution is changing politics, business, and culture’ they have interviewed the world’s most influential bloggers. The book contains three parts: Politics & policy, Business & economics and Media & culture. Dan Burstein have written the introduction. Each part is divided in an essay of David Kline, interviews with the bloggers and commentary. It has a good structure and it is not necessary to read the book chronological. The three parts of the book have their own accent.
Potitics & policy
In Politics & policy part stresses the influence of blogs on politics. Kline points out that blogs have influenced the 2004 presidental election. He links it with the public dissatisfaction with the mainstream media. Blogs have the ability to give the public a voice and give a more diverse view. Maybe the mainstream media will give a ‘false balance of objectivity’, as Geneva Overholser points out:: “It leads to a false balance of ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ opinions stories that make the two ‘hand’ appear equal even when the factual weight lies 98 percent on one side.” (9) Or maybe there are more opinions than two. The blogosphere could give these alternative opinions. But, as Erza Klein points out, blogs “encourage polarization and extremism rather than debate and extremism rather than debate and understanding.”
I think the blogosphere could help politics to know what’s really going on in society. Maybe anyone can be a watchdog. Especially for local problems or problems the mainstream media ignores. An example is the Webantenne for the Dutch government. The Dutch government want to listen what citizens needs in society. In stead of deciding what they think best for the country or only going in conversation with the mainstream media, now they want also go in conversation with citizens.
Business & economics
A returning point in the book is that authority is going to change. The one-way politics, business and media are coming to an end. Blogs give people the ability to talk back. In business, the producer/customer boundaries fades. Companies used to tell customers what to buy. Why aren’t they listening what customers tell them what to build? In the essays and interviews there are given tips for marketeers. New media have given marketing a new approach. According to several professionals in the book, companies have to listen to their customers. Qualitative data is important: it’s not only important what they want, but also why. Another point they make is the rise of the word of mouth. Bloggers can make or break a product. People want independent information. Several times the book discuss the people’s distrust of the mainstream media & politics. I think this is also going on with the advertisement industry. When you see consumer programs on tv you see how manipulative some advertisements are. These programs are making you aware of that. Before the internet exists the word of mouth was a local thing. Friends or family tell you that they are very content with a product and then you also buy it. Nowadays in the internet area, people have the ability to look up what independent customers say about products.
Niche media and niche advertising is also an important issue in the book. In the mass area advertisements where made for the mass. They where broadcasted on television or on billboards. The drawback is that the biggest part of society are not interested in that product. For example, if you don’t have children you are not waiting to see an advertisement for baby food. The internet area gives the ability to connect companies with the people who want to buy their products.
The bloggers in the book are giving advice: companies have to be transparent. They have to be honest en self-critic, because they must give the ability for customers to give comment. To communicate with the customer, to be open. Customers want authenticity and real opinions. They don’t want the PR talk.
Media & culture
Stephen Baker and Heather Green concluded that blogging is a conversation. And that aspect is important I think. David Kline is comparing the mainstream media too much with the blogosphere. He talks within the discourse of the ‘citizen journalists’. But are bloggers journalist? Kline is asking the question if blogging means the death of Big Media. I think the blogosphere have influence, but I don’t think they take over the mainstream media. Not every blogger has the ambition to be a journalist. I think most of the people already have a job and blog in their free time. It’s also for the people creating movies. Nowadays it’s easy to make a movie and put it online, but that will not mean that everybody is a professional like Stephen Spielberg or has the ambition to be him. The mainstream media can use bloggers to cooperate, to go in conversation with them. I think it’s the same for politics and business. In a conversation you can learn from each other. That’s also what Joi Ito says: “A lot of the media are thinking about blogs as a new form of publishing but it’s really a new form of conversation and a new form of community” (150). It is not one-way anymore. Politicians, companies and media have to go in conversation with the people.
Kline, David, Dan Burstein. Blog! How the newest media revolution is changing politics. Squibnocket Partners LLC., 2005.