In my mind, the rise of Weblogs parallels events in the 16th Century when one of the first networks – reliable postal service – appeared. Shortly after people like Locke and Galileo and Descartes began writing each other about their discoveries, and then scientific academies formed, where these letters would be read aloud to others who shared an interest. The world has never looked back, since. Think ‘Renaissance’. Think ‘Industrial Revolution’.
I make no claim to be on a par with Galileo, or Locke, or even Doc, for that matter, but I do believe that the global network and easy-to-use Weblog tools, RSS feeds etc. have fundamentally changed authorship. It has been democratized, and pushed down from the small, theoretically-highly-expert, professional cadre that were the norm in broadcast media to include a wider group of both amateur and professional authors who are the norm in peer networks like Weblog communities.
This is a good thing, and you saw it operating last Saturday morning, when the Columbia foam-strikes-wing theory emerged on numerous Weblogs, hours before NASA and big media outlets made mention. That theory was stitched together through Weblogs talking, and branching, and picking up informed opinion, eyewitness acounts and media clips. The theory just emerged as interested, thoughtful people put the pieces together: it was like a human parallel processing machine.
The Doc Searls Weblog]