Blogs are an extremely useful and powerful part of the internet and I want to give just three examples to illustrate this.
First of all there is the recent resignation of Peter Hain from his job as a government minister. There is a blogger, Paul Staines, writing under the name of 'Guido Fawkes' who claims, with I think a lot of justification, that his exposure of the background to Hain's attempts to finance his deputy leadership bid led to his ultimate downfall. Not something that could be proved perhaps but the circumstantial evidence stacks up. Staines is well known as being very right wing but he was quite in order I believe to take Peter Hain to task in the way he has. Interestingly with Labour in power it's the right wing blogs that make the running at the moment so far as politics are concerned. It could be argued that it is much easier to go on the attack when your blog is in sympathy with the opposition; it would be interesting to note whether left wing bloggers gain the ascendancy if the Tories form the next administration. One thing I intensely dislike about Guido's blog and many similar is the fact that they permit anonymous comments. Many a time they include unnecessary bad language - I am not a prude and have been known to let go the odd expletive when under stress but to use intemporate language in blog comments, no! The other point to make is that it's possible for a blogger to boost his piece by commenting himself anonymously! I'm not accusing anyone, just stating that the potential is there.
For examples two and three I will refer to my own blog, said he modestly. The second example is my very recent entry on the discovery of the site of a Roman fort at Calstock. I think I was the first person to put this information into the public domain (thanks Marlene for tipping me off!) as the press release came out later. This is not to pat myself on the back, it is just to illustrate the point that a blogger can come across some interesting information and publish it before the main stream media does. Moving to the third example I go back to my old favourite 'MSC Napoli'. I had no idea when I started that one particular story would lead to over 40 entries with plenty more to come. By recording so many developments in this fascinating saga and all in one place it is possible for the reader to follow the sequence of events and in a concise form. Maybe one day a book will be written on it - I hope so, wish I had the time myself - but meanwhile a blog is a useful and accessible source of information on the subject.
One other point that seldom gets aired is the fact that in future years today's blogs will prove a fascinating window into life as it is now, and freely accessible to people from all over the world. Because we are right in the middle of the 'Communications Revolution' we may not totally realise the profound effect it is having on civilisation.