The Illustrious News Sentinel ArticleThanks anyway. Apparently I didn't seem to make the cut, even though I sent in my answers.
Here's the text of my response, for what it's worth...
I'm doing a story on bloggers post-war. They got a boost during the war but where do they go from here?
Since blogging was active long before the war, I think they need to continue to do what they have been doing - keep bringing stories into the light that may have been otherwise buried, continue the healthy debates between all sides, and most of all keep improving this new art of internet communication and sharing of ideas. I can't count the number of opinions, controversies, and other pieces of information that have been bounced from blog to blog - discussed, picked apart, added to and clarified by the collective minds and life experiences of the writers. In doing so, information is shared to more people than ever before and more people are enlightened about the world around them.
When we know each other better, we're stronger than when we keep our opinions and knowledge to ourselves. In a lot of cases I've found our offline peer groups tend to think just like us, and conversations and discussions may not offer a lot of insight to a problem. On the web, you have thousands of people with vastly different experiences, backgrounds and points of view that can add their own selves to the issues. That's important to seeing all sides and understanding that we may not always see eye to eye, we have to work together to solve our problems.
Also, TN is well represented in The Truth Laid Bear Blogoshpere Ecosystem, which as you know ranks blogs based on links. Why are we apparently so active in blogging? Is the fiercely independent nature of our state, especially ET?
That's a good question, and it's one I've asked myself. As most people know, East Tennessee has a history of conservative politics and thinking. The mix of ET bloggers, especially those in the Rocky Top Brigade, is very healthy on all areas of the spectrum - right, left, middle...some we're not sure where they are :) When a society has strong traditions attached to it - family, religion, manners, etc - sometimes people need a sounding board or a method to express themselves that might not be encouraged otherwise. I think ET is a prime place for this, because we have so many creative people who (like me) have been brought up in the genteel Southern tradition to "not make waves", "don't rock the boat", "clean up your room"....weblogs are an outlet to express ourselves that is civil (mostly), organized, and still community based.
ET was built on communities, and I think some of us recognize the importance of it and extend it online. We have "Blogger Bashes" where we'll meet for dinner every once in a while. Some of us know each other offline, some don't, but when one's in trouble the others come to their aid. We recently had a member of the RTB that lost her brother, and was grief-stricken. She doesn't live in ET (she has ET connections, however), but a number of us offered support on her blog until she was able to return to posting. East Tennessee is a community, and we've taken the best part of that and offered it to the rest of the country, through our own daily accounts.
East Tennesse has family, it has concern, it has community and it cares - that's what it's about.
Feel free to add any other thoughts and observations you have.
I hope people that have not read weblogs realize that a) we don't talk solely about war and politics, and b) we don't just post daily observations about our cats. Everybody has their own life experiences, and we all want to make the world a better place for everyone to live. If by bringing attention to issues that need to be addressed, and offering opinions and possible solutions to them in a form that's accessible to everyone, then we've improved our world a little bit.