technorati is currently tracking more than 57 million blogs and counting.
as of October 2006, about 100,000 new weblogs were created each day.
the blogosphere is doubling in size approximately every 230 days
about 55% of all blogs are active, which means that they have been updated at least once in the last 3 months.
What is everybody blogging about? You name it. There are blogs on almost any topic you can imagine. The sublime, the ridiculous. I love even the dullest blog in the world.
In an interesting article in The Guardian, Nick Cohen writes that ‘most bloggers …write about their lives, what books they are reading and music they are listening to.’
The most successful chroniclers of their everyday escapades - Zoe Margolis as the Girl with a one track mind, Judith O’Reilly as Wife in the North, and can anyone have escaped the furore caused by Catherine Sanderson, alias La Petite Anglaise - become quite famous in their own right.
Some blogs appear to be quite influential in other ways. I was reading only this week of the key role that bloggers are playing in the run up to the Oscars.
Cohen is more interested, however, in the relationship between politics and the blog. Whether the internet is giving a voice to the disenfranchised as well as to the over/under-sexed singleton or the mother of four in ruritania. Here things are not going as well as planned. ‘Although the net has given welcome space to new political writers who otherwise would never have been published’, he argues that it has generally failed to meet the inflated expectations of those who expected it ‘would allow oppressed peoples to escape censors and read forbidden opinions’. Instead – witness the recent imprisoning off the Egyptian author of a blog called The Critic - the net is proving surprisingly easy for dictatorships to control.
I would not dispute any of this. In fact I would argue that even in Europe or the U.S. the lack of checks and balances, referred to in the opening paragraph of Cohen’s article, on the web can cause potential problems.
With a headline ‘Vlaams Belang goes to Washington’, Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported on 21/02 that Filip Dewinter and Frank Vanhecke, the two top men from the (very) right-wing Belgian political party (formerly known as Vlaams Blok), are going on a three-day visit to the US. They quote elements of the speeches that the two men will deliver during their visit. With reference to Eurabia and the ‘dangers’ that Islam poses to Europe:
“We are fighting for the survival of the West. We are fighting for us and for our children, We are fighting for Europe, but also for America. Therefore we deserve your support. Help us to survive.”The speechwriter, according to De Standaard, is Paul Belien, the man behind the popular blog Brusselsjournal.com
There are several blogs that I know of with a focus on life in Brussels that have links to the Brussels Journal in their blogroll. I am sure that they have absolutely no intention of providing support for a forum that cherishes ideas such as those espoused by Vlaams Belang. But the links are there.
Nobody wants censorship on the web, as Cohen outlines all too powerfully. If the authorities in democracies are to be kept out of it, however, self-censorship is important. Those of us active here in Bruxelles can make a start by removing the links to the Brussels Journal.