Demos Greenhouse has a post today that nicely encapsulates the power of blogs and networking online – and the disadvantages of it, seen from the point of view of a thinktank of political activists and researchers (“people changing politics”)who have only recently decided to focus on the net. The upsides are things I’ve seen happen in many other blogs, and they really are quite startling, especially the first time they happen to you – you know, when the person you’ve blogged about comments on your post defending his or her point of view, or when someone you didn’t know emails you forging some useful connection that wouldn’t have happened by simple person-to-person networking. The risks are less often pointed out:

To put it bluntly, I won’t get a byline for the THES article; Demos won’t be seen by the rest of the world as any more influential even though one of Europe’s leading statesman takes the time to read and comment on our blog.

The online and offline “public spheres” don’t always connect. Acquiring influence in one doesn’t necessarily give you recognition in the other. I think this will even out in time, as we spend more and more time with online media. Though perhaps we’ll have to wait until print newspapers have digital paper and links to make connections back to their sources, like mainstream online papers are doing now.

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