The Blogosphere Evolves ...
highlights "one of the most remarkable developments in the Israeli blogosphere" - the Second International Jewish Blogger Convention, held last week. He writes:
[T]his would mark an intriguing period in the evolution of diplomacy. After all, what's better: to have one's foreign policy influenced by a bevy of lobbyists, NGOs, think-tanks and advocacy organizations or a decentralized army of patriotic bloggers? [...] One thing about bloggers as lobbyists is that they do not leave a public trail of evidence: unlike think-tanks, most of them do not require funding and have no formal affiliation with a government whose policies they endorse. They may be benefiting from the skills that they learn at conventions like the one in Jerusalem but they behave as fully independent actors of civil society, deliberately distancing themselves from official institutions. This makes it extremely difficult to accuse them of spreading propaganda or repeating the usual talking points: after all, they are acting as citizens rather than politicians. Consequently, what they say is usually treated in a much more serious fashion than the boilerplate of politicians.
I do think that the blogosphere has the potential to become a kind of virtual citizens' parliament - a place where ideas and arguments can be exchanged by conversationalists more engaged than mere writers, yet not forced to placate various interests and coalitions as politicians must. With this role comes more responsibility - which, of course, the writer in me resists.