Sunday, May 11, 2008

The most important question of our time

Some of you might know that I wrote my senior thesis on the internet, and political applications thereof. I turned it in last Wednesday. Before I turned it in, I spent lots of exciting time in the library, taking notes on every book in existence. One of the books I used a lot, Web Campaigning by Kirsten Foot and GW alum Steven Schneider, separated online political action into definitive, easily-applicable categories. It's a great book, and if you're looking to see how online political campaigns work, I recommend it.

But that's not why I'm blogging about it.

In the foreword of the book, Michael Cornfield -- a GSPM professor -- wrote that the internet has changed the way we communicate. Because so many opinion leaders use the internet and read things such as blogs, bloggers wield a disproportionate amount of influence. Or, as Cornfield puts it in the most awesome quote in the history of ever:
A voter does not have to know what a blog is, much less read one, to be affected by the ninja-style debates occurring in the blogosphere.
Now, clearly this quote is fantastic and needs to be spread far and wide -- hence why I'm wielding my disproportionate influence and posting it here. But there's a bigger issue at play here. Are bloggers really ninjas?

Bloggers, if we buy Cornfield's argument, are important to political discourse because they affect how people think about issues. They can put forward new information, or give a different take on an argument. In short, they're important because you know what they say. That doesn't sound like any ninjas I know. Ninjas are important because you don't know they're there. They're sneaky and deadly and generally, you know, secretive. Bloggers are boisterous. They use tough language, they boast about themselves, they use exciting and colorful graphics. In short, they're more like pirates than ninjas.

As everyone knows, the war between pirates and ninjas is one of the longest, most deep-seated rivalries in history. (And I say that as a Cubs fan.) If Cornfield's comparison is off-base, then he's just set himself up to get keelhauled. But if he's right, and bloggers are like ninjas ... well, I guess we wouldn't hear about it.

Is Cornfield right? Vote in the poll below. To give you some more background (make an informed decision! It's more democratic!), feel free to check out these videos of the guys from Mythbusters, in both pirate and ninja flavors. (How can they be both, you ask? Because they're awesome.)

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

Although I prefer Ninjas, I've got to go with the whole pirate argument...