Critical reflections on the participative nature of blogs
In this paper the often celebratory accounts of the civic, participatory and democratic potentials of the blogosphere are being critically assessed. While these potentials are not denied or minimised, it is argued that some trends and phenomena detrimental to these potentials need to be acknowledged as well. With regard to the latter, 5 distinct threats are identified. At a structural/organisational level of analysis, the colonisation of the blogosphere by the market, the appropriation of the blogosphere by cultural and political elites and strategies of control by states and employers will be addressed. At an individual level of analysis, examples of online intimidation by fellow bloggers and so-called anti-publics using blogs and online forums to disseminate discourses of hate are considered. Many of the examples provided expose the blogosphere as situated in between the public and the private sphere, which can be problematic from a participatory perspective. Above all, it is concluded that the internet is a medium rife with contradictions and cannot be separated from the tensions and conflicts present in the offline world; it is part of it.