Please excuse the question: it's late where I am and I've been trying to simplify an issue that's been buzzing around my head for days.
When literally millions of people have blogs, can the blogosphere be anything more than a collection of people using a particular form of communication channel?
Can there seriously be a 'blogging ethic' - a set of norms that pertains to all (or at the least a vast majority) of the blogs out there that is more than defined by the technology and common features?
I can see a blogger ethic adhered to by many bloggers still, but ultimately, I think, blogging is stopping being a hobby and is becoming a medium. It has achieved what CB radio failed to do and what telephony succeeded in doing: becoming an everyday tool - so varied and diverse in its use by so varied and diverse a group of people that the very use of it is becoming, like email before it, invisible.
Does this matter?
It does when newspapers write about how 'bloggers' are up in arms about something or other (the Huffington Post was today's outrage). Try substituting emailer or telephone-user for 'blogger' and you'll get the point.
It does also when talking about journalism and blogging. 'Are bloggers journalists?' ask bored journalists with a glint of fear and ignorance in their eye. Again, ask if telephone users are. Journalists use telephones, I use a telephone, ergo I am a journalist? I think not. Some journalists use blogs. Sure. Some bloggers report or give opinions. Sure. But then so do many sportsmen and women. Does that make them journalists? Possibly. Does anyone give a damn? Not really.
But people do have reason to care about the blogging/journalism debate because some bloggers are accused of expecting the rights of journalists (protecting sources etc) but not the responsibilities (accountability, identification). This is not a question of blogging, though, it's a question of journalism.
Blogging is a activity by which a large number of people access and create a medium. Much as we say 'hello' on the phone (a word that's popularity was created by and large by telephony), we respond to comments on a blog, acknowledge our audiences and expect dialogue. Does this make blogging more than the use of a communication channel? I don't think so, but would like you to let me know what you think. And if you have the references to items on this from those wiser than I, do let me know also.
NB This isn't all I intend to write on blogs and ethics this week, though the others may feel more positive!