Dan Gillmore talks about how newspapers could benefit from the blog phenomenon. I think the phenomenon he is after is something like Wiki, where knowledge (and the effort spent communicating it) is collected from a large number of volunteers. Gillmore argues that newspapers could benefit from becoming clearinghouses in a similar fashion; where the newspaper's brand name and distribution advantages (bazillions of hits on their web pages, for one) mean they would bring something to the table as well. Give it a read. It's interesting stuff.
I spent part of the weekend clicking around Green political sites, and I see the Democratic party is also getting a lot of criticism, on many of the same points (wishy washy being prominent), from its left wing as comes from the right. There are some similarities here to Dan's scenario-- you have a beleaguered but respected institution, good DNA, just a little shopworn. Could bloggers help? I don't think politicians are as susceptible to the blog swarm as information vendors are, and let's face it, Dan's speaking from a position of strength when he's preaching to Knight-Ridder. I'll have to think about this.
UPDATE: While I'm thinking TAPPED has been at work, with write-in suggestions of "what does liberalism stand for?"
But also one should keep in mind that Google, which I consider the frontline of information evolution, is suffering from growing pains which look an awful lot like the tragedy of the commons. When you generate value, you have to defend it. This is trickier to do when you are working in an open environment, and Google has had a few missteps.
UPDATE: A little bit off topic, but Crooked Timber also talks about the interface between blogging and expertise, in this case scholar-bloggers (yech.) Anyone who quotes Nietzsche has a greater acid tolerance than I. (I did quote Graham Greene once.) But-- a legitimate point-- you can't be a scholar on every blog post. It's no fun, and-- hell, you can't.
What fraction of time do bloggers spend wondering about the significance of blogging? Short answers only.