At a Samizdata social gathering a few months back, one of the attendees (I think it was Patrick Crozier) posed the question of how much influence the blogosphere was having on the ‘real’ world.
The answer I gave at the time was plain and direct: none. A rather negative prognosis for sure but sincere and truthful as far as I was concerned.
However, my candour was not well-received. My dear chum Brian Micklethwait, in particular, took issue with me claiming that the blogosphere could well have be having an impact in ways that were not yet manifest. I countered this with the contention that in the absence of evidence of influence, one must assume that there is no influence at all.
Anyway, if memory serves, the rest of the bickering trailed off into a lake of libation and no firm conclusions were ever reached (are they ever?).
Since then, I have been forced to qualify my above-stated position because, in common with most other bloglodytes, I am all too familiar with the ‘Rathergate’ scandal over in the USA; a incident of such profile that it has made it impossible to deny that blogging is now having some degree of impact on the wider American polity.
But, as far as the UK is concerned, I have maintained my stance. Sadly and frustratingly, neither the blogosphere nor anything else seems to have been able to lay a glove on the great, heaving, suffocating beast of the hegemonic British intellectual climate.
That was my view. Until today. I required some proof to the contrary and now there is infallible proof:
Online journals and camera phones are a “paedophiles’ dream” which have increased the risk to children, the Scottish Parliament has been warned….
Rachel O’Connell said adults could use weblogs to learn about children….
She said: “This is just a paedophile’s dream because you have children uploading pictures, giving out details of their everyday life because it’s an online journal.”
I refuse to even attempt a rebuttal of this ludicrous and obviously desperate smear, preferring instead to let it stand naked in all its ignominy. Besides, it will not be the last. Blogging has clearly begun to make an impression on the minds of the political classes and they fear it.
The blogosphere has now landed in Britain.