Back to iLaw: Yochai Benkler did a presentation on “The Internet and Political Values” yesterday that was, for the most part, way over my head, but the parts that I did get were pretty enlightening. One thing that really stuck was his deconstruction of the Long Tail, where it appears that there are a few blogs that get lots of readers and many, many blogs that get just a few. In the larger view, this is true, but what’s significant is when you break it down into clusters of blogs by interest. Benkler showed that within interest groups, the distribution is pretty standard: some blogs have a lot of readers, most blogs have a fair number (in relative terms) and some have very few. His point, I think, was that as the blogosphere grows larger, there will still be great opportunity for new bloggers to become significant contributors within their interest groups. Think of it as a lot of mini blogospheres, similar to our growing K-12 edublogger sphere. There have been so many great new voices added to our mix over the past six months or so, and that only promises to continue.
The other thing he talked about which I found interesting was how quickly the blogosphere can organize to take political action. He used the Sinclair Broadcasting Group story from last year as an example. Within a week after announcing they would run a controversial program about John Kerry, bloggers brought about movement against local advertisers of Sinclair that eventually caused the company’s stock price to go down and to them pulling the program. It was a pretty powerful case study.
Unfortunately, I can’t stay the full day today. My brain is spinning once again, not quite as buzzed as after last year, but buzzed nonetheless. It’s hard to capture it in one general thought or idea, but if I had to, I’d say the message here is that the huge waves of change caused by the Read/Write Web are just growing larger, that “the law” does not fully understand the implications of these changes, yet, and that it’s going to be a very interesting (and messy) decade ahead. Sounds right for education as well.