When I got started on Reb Blog, I basically thought of it as a good way to post articles in print media that I published, or got quoted in, or speeches that I gave up for public viewing in an ongoing way. It would be a vanity press-like journal of my work. Now I'm beginning to think differently about what a Blog is for. A few years ago, I got to meet Jay Rosen, an NYU journalism prfoessor who had just written a book called "What are Journalists for?" Yesterday I got to sit at the feet of (and enjoy a lemonade at the Princeton Club with) Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine . Jeff is the brother of Rev. Cindy Jarvis who I worked with on confronting the Messianic 'synagogue' drawing money from the Presbyterian new church development funds. Jeff spoke enthusiastically about how the new blog media is changing the print media - and changing network television. Blogs work, he argues, not by being the top overall blogs - i.e. the article in New York magazine about the top fifty blogs is irrelevant - but by being the top in a particular niche. For example, the top cooking blogs represent a larger and more engaged audience than Emril Legasse. Each niche - media, religion, tv, NASCAR, crochet, lacrosse, whatever will eventually spawn into podcast and video broadcast that will rival whatever the FCC approves or what cable providers want to sell us for $99 a month. They may not replace the big media anytime soon - especially as big media begins to eat them and acquire them - but they may usher in a new, more democratic, way of generating news and commentary on the news. Bloggers in Iraq, Jeff argues, are changing the way we view the war. We can now draw from personal experience, in a 'human' way - not a slick tv product - and we can hear new voices.
Once again, the guide atop this blog, Rabbi Kaplan, was prophetic. He saw the force of democracy as one which would insert itslef into all institutions, particularly religious institutions and cause transformations that would spawn new entities and new 'civilizations'. The more I have recieved emails from other bloggers, and I have learned from reading other bloggers, the more I see the blog world as a democratizing entity.