Blog Action Day Focuses on Environment

This article was published by Newsletter, issue #37, .

Most citizens of cyberspace should by now be familiar with the practice of blogging, in which individuals write unedited commentary on a range of topics, often on a daily basis, and share their thoughts with the world in weblogs — short for "Web logs" and the origin of the name "blog". Despite pronouncements by Internet pundits that the phenomenon of blogging has peaked, it is clear that the influence of bloggers and their blogs continues to grow, as more people abandon traditional media — such as television and newspaper — and elect instead to seek online for the latest news, for historical information, and for analysis thereof. Consequently, social activists of all stripes are viewing the collective influence of bloggers as a potential tool for advancing their given causes — from organizing mass communication targeted at policymakers, to organizing local activism events in particular regions. One of the most prominent examples of this coordination, is Blog Action Day, which aims to enlist the participation of as many bloggers as possible, on a single day, and to focus their attention — and, in turn, the attention of their readers — upon a single topic.

Blogging and environmentalism may be two of the most culturally challenging forces in modern discourse and human affairs, but they have traditionally been the domains of disparate types of people — the technically hip and the ecologically hip, with no sizable overlap between the two. While there have been online commentators who have discussed environmental issues in their blogs — either occasionally or full-time — it wasn't until 15 October 2007 that these two forces intersected in a large-scale concerted effort. That was the date chosen by Blog Action Day for bloggers around the globe to focus on the topic chosen for the year: the environment.

The results of their efforts were well recorded on Blog Action Day's home page and their own blog. Specifically, they note the participation of 20,603 blogs, containing 23,327 posts, and picked up by 14,631,038 RSS readers. Their site has a graph that shows the number of Google search hits pertaining to the group's effort, as tracked throughout the day. The site also has excerpts from coverage of the event by newspapers and prominent blogs

Participating blogs were not limited to relatively unknown individuals, but included some major online players, including the Official Google Blog and the YouTube Blog. Also, 19 of Technorati's top 100 blogs participated. In addition, Stavros Dimas, the European Union's Environmental Commissioner, held a multilingual and multi-hour discussion especially for the day's event, on his blog, whose primary topic is, naturally, the environment.

Sadly, as with any other well-intentioned effort that hopes to make a positive difference in the world, this particular Blog Action Day received its share of disparaging barbs from the trolls and other online cynics. For instance, the peanut gallery at Slashdot chimed in with their belittling comments. But the organizers and participants of this worthy Blog Action Day event are likely wise enough to understand that every step in the right direction adds up, and there will always be those members of society who would prefer to destroy what others create, rather than help build onto the work of others. The potential of bloggers to quickly and cost-effectively raise awareness of major trends, as well as break hot political news ignored by the mainstream press, has already been well documented, and can serve as yet another promising tool by those who are interested in more than just the Web of the Internet, but also the web of our global ecological network.

Copyright © 2007 Michael J. Ross. All rights reserved.
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