Are Blogs Communities?

Are Blogs Communities?

Being geographically separate would, at first glance, seem to preclude blogs from being categorized as a community. From the blog point of view this is too restrictive an interpretation of what it means to be ‘in community’. Discussion on a blog is where a relatively large number of people co-operate in a process leading to an action or attitude based on the collective intelligence. This collective intelligence, based on the freely given thoughts of anyone joining the blog, is very enticing. Collective intelligence is one of the signs of community. Reading a blog discussion gives a validity to personal thought often missing in the day to day world – it is approval from one’s peers – a tribal stamp of significance and self worth.

Here is a comment from a blog, “I believe that Blogging, and its wider family of Social Software tools, will not only affect education but will shake our entire society to the core. I believe that our descendants will look back at its arrival the same way that we now look back at the advent of the printing press.

I believe that Social Software is a vector, a return to an old culture.
When I say old culture, I mean the culture that fits the essential nature of humans and that fits nature itself. I imagine a return to the custom of being personally authentic, to a definition of work that serves the needs of our community, and to a society where our institutions serve to enhance all life.”

Paramount to the blog collective intelligence is a willingness to share and an openness to the value of distributed intelligence. It acknowledges the community mind as the final arbiter and in this regard – recognizing the whole as greater than the sum of individual parts – it is a community.

One of the great strengths of a blog is that the government and private sector use of bureaucracy and compartmentalised knowledge to uphold the status quo is neutralised. The host of individuals, the collective intelligence, restores the power of people over society. Attempts of vested interests to manipulate information are likely to be rejected. Blogs often will espouse an interest in direct contradiction to information given by political or economic power. The war in Iraq, which U.S. government agencies call a success, differs from the view on blogs. The result is a wide divergence of published opinion that was not available prior to the proliferation of blogs.

Blogs, based on common cause or shared interest, are usually non-hierarchical and egalitarian human connections of the spirit. They meet the need for community for those intrigued by explanations of the challenges of life. Blogs meet a community need for a unified body of knowledge or understanding necessary so as to identify and cooperate with others of like opinion.

However, blogs attract those intrigued by explanations and preclude those who move in the area of emotions and nuanced messages. The lack of physical connection would seem to nullify the deep connection found in communitas. The dichotomy of left brain/right brain is also present in communities and the question, Are blogs a community(?) depends on a definition of community. I would define community as an outgrowth of individual desires. A community reflects the emotions, thoughts, character and fears of the individuals who belong to it and if one part of humanity is missing it is not a community. The idea of virtual communities is attractive but a description other than community would be more accurate.