It is possible that we will find out, in five or 10 or 20 years, that, in the internet, we have created a monster we cannot tame, whose capacity for doing harm exceeds any good it once brought.Berlins ruminated on the possible need for "controls on entry" for the Internet. (Is there no end to this ID card fetish?)
His main anxiety seemed to be about the web being a focus for conspiracy theory and he picked out the MMR scare as a prime example. Now, I rather think that the opposite is true. This was started in the mainstream press, not the blogosphere, and excellent, medical blogs, such as Black Triangle, have played their part in countering the scare mongers.
For every website proposing nonsense there is another promoting truth. It is now easier to access authoritative scientific material and debate than ever before. Websites such as Real Climate have become important resources for both professional and lay readers. Sanity and clear, rational thought is dispensed through wonderful sites like Butterflies and Wheels. It is just as easy to argue that one of the main functions of the net is to provide an accessible platform for debunking crackpot theories as it is to fret that it is a method of their propagation.
Then, trailing clouds of clichés, Sunny Hundal appears with the proposal that blogging is going to save the left (and the world no doubt). Bloggers are central:
...we need to campaign to further a liberal-left set of ideas that chime with what Britain wants and where we want to go.Phew! I bet no one had thought of that before. Praise be to bloggers.
It doesn't take long before the still, small voice of sanity is heard. Paulie crops up with a pertinent critique based on his insistent advocacy of representative democracy. He brings us all back down to earth.
We are having a conversation. That's all. Not that it is unimportant. At its best, blogging can provide "a good, high-quality conversation" for others to eavesdrop on, friends and strangers, from all over the world, and, at times, the debate can be heard by the weak and the powerful alike and who knows what influence it may eventually have?
In the meantime, as the advertising slogan would have it, it's good to talk.