How is it that complicated and reliable systems of cooperation come about without any centralized direction?
Two outstanding examples of this are economic markets and the operation of the blogosphere. Both of these areas exhibit a high degree of spontaneous, decentralized organization. My feeling is that their successes are due to the existence of open communication of verifiable data. When this is not present, abuses occur and this leads to pressure for centralized control.
I think that as long as there are bloggers who write rationally and document their sources, blogs will continue to exert more and more influence on everyday life. The amount of distributed knowledge that can be unleashed within hours is just beginning to be realized by bloggers themselves. Rathergate was merely another confirmation that there are lots of bloggers with specialized knowledge and it can be easily tapped in support of a worthy cause.
In the future, Rathergate will be considered an early benchmark of spontaneous organization to accomplish research and analysis of information. I expect to see this activity expand tenfold in the coming years. I think that blogs will play a strong counterpoint to the Muzak of MSM (mainstream media). People will see the “news” from CBS or other MSM outlets and immediately check to see what Powerline and Captain’s Quarters has to say about it.
It will be interesting to see the next pompous individual whose misinformation is shredded by the pajama-clad pirahnas of the blogosphere. Things should get rather interesting. Public statements may be more carefully vetted before being uttered. On the other hand there may be an endless supply of those who hold to their own version of the truth…
There are some who cry for supervision of bloggers. They have not learned anything from Rathergate. Bloggers correct themselves more quickly than any outside agency.
Absence of verifiable data in an article or comment sets off an immediate alarm in the blogging world. While there are bloggers with closed minds who steadfastly maintain that the world is flat and Dan Rather is a journalist, their audience is usually confined to those who hold similar views against all evidence to the contrary.
Blogging is an educational dialog for those with inquiring minds. It is probably painful for those with fixed ideas.
Frederick Turner has described how a perfectly-matched team of specialists had self-assembled out of the ether in response to the outrageous behavior of CBS and its use of forged documents. Thanks to Instapundit for the tip.
UPDATE: Michael Van Winkle wrote Why Blogging Works which got me to create this post in the first place. In it, he describes the work of Nobel Prize winning economist F.A. Hayek, which was centered on the effectiveness of spontaneous, decentralized organization in economic markets.