[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Blogs for opinions

I am reading a lot these days about how blogs have become mainstream media. But I believe blogs, due to their very nature of ad-hoc, decentralized, individual publishing will never become “mainstream”. Just becoz a mainstream folks such as CNN, WashingtonPost and Forbes have blogs on their website does not make general medium of blogs as mainstream. Besides, the vast majority of bloggers in the world are not anywhere close to be mainstream publishers. By staying away from mainstream, blogs gain their uniqueness and in some cases, authenticity and truthfulness.

It is interesting to note how I have come to use blogs to form my own opinions. I do read mainstream media magazines (mainly, Google news, followed by BBC, NYTimes, NDTV and ChennaiOnline) and newspapers, most of them online. At the same time, I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds (using Firefox’s Sage) from a whole lot of blogs. Outside of these feeds, I scavenge the web randomly to read. All this consolidated, I form my own opinions about things happening around me. I believe this process is helping me get to close to the true value of any information.

As a simple example, I was reading this Anil Dash’s post about Barack Obama. Barack is a upcoming african american senator from Illinois and he came to limelight ( at least to me ) when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention during the last election supporting democratic presidential candidate. His speech was appealing and he seemed to be genuine politician with his personality and profile. The media was all praise for him and showered all the attention he ever wanted, even as far as claiming that he might be the president of US soon! He even released a book, his autobiagraphy, that I saw on the front shelves of bookstores, at least for few days – ‘Make hay/money while Sun Shines!’

Anil, in his blog, pointed to this article by Barack in CNN’s Time magaine. Since I am already impressed with Barack in general, I read it and thought it was a good article. I read thru the part where he was comparing himself with Abraham Lincoln, but didn’t give enough importance to it. For all I knew, Barack could have had an equally tough life growing up before making it as a popular politician. He perhaps aspires for being a President someday, so who else than Lincoln to take for inspiration.

But…I didn’t stop there, I seriously wanted to know what the blogosphere ( the internet world of blogs) had to say about this article by Barack. I searched Technorati, a popular search engine that searches only blogs [just paste the URL/Link to the article in the search text box and search and it will list all blogs referring to it]. I have this strange habit always checking the first and last items in any list! When I moved to the last blog in the search results that was referring to Barack’s article, I had found something different. I found this blog whose author found the Barack’s own self-comparison with Lincoln, undeserving

This author preferred to link to another op-ed article by peggy noonan (my earlier post on peggy’s writing) who clearly brought forth some facts about Barrack :

Transcript from Peggy’s article : (emphasis mine) Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton’s first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities!

Hmm…at first thought, it seems to be not a big deal But isn’t that a good information for me to better evaluate Barrack’s own views of the world. I still like him for what he is and what he has accompolished, but he could have been better and I am sure he knows better than this, as I would have to agree with Ms. Peggy. He is perhaps using this strategy of not sharing key facts and hence associating himself more with a common ‘minority’ man, than otherwise.

Just a few years ago I would have simply read just the Time article and it would have reinforced by strong opinions on Barrack. Today, with blogs, and internet and open modern media, my opinions are not simply shaped by mainstream media alone!

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