The Rise of the Blogosphere Intro

Aaron Barlow’s The Rise of the Blogosphere recounts the history and the development of the media and journalism. His book comprehensively highlights the changes that the industry has gone through. I really enjoyed reading the book and going on what seemed like a journey through time. Barlow’s incorporation of the history and rise of journalism and its characteristics in its early days was extremely interesting to read about. It’s incredible how far we have come since then. The most profound part of the book for me was the implications that 9/11 had on the realms of journalism and the media. Barlow describes it as a complete paradigm shift, especially when it came to blogs, the Internet’s role in informing the public, and the kind of information that was available. Barlow’s book left me with a lot of questions, mainly as to where we are going next. We’ve already come pretty far since the publication of the book and now that I’m aware of the changes that have happened, I’ll be paying more attention to the changes that will happen in the future.

In my first response, I pulled out a quote from the introduction about what “good journalism” can do, specifically in regards to what has been presently going on in the media and the new administration. I focus on how journalism, whether it be good or bad, can bring communities together in “times of crisis” on both sides of the political spectrum.

My second post, much like the beginning of Barlow’s book, focuses more on the history of journalism. I relate the coffeehouses of the early days of journalism to blogs, specifically blogs of the time in which they were just gaining momentum. Barlow points out that the coffeehouses gave citizens a way to speak and converse, specifically about politics, and this is very similar to the way many think of blogs.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, the book has made me think a lot about the future of the media and journalism, specifically about live streaming; this is pretty much what I wrote about in my third post. Barlow brings up how “technological changes” have had an impact on the industry, and it made me wonder what kinds of future changes will occur and what their implications will be.

My fourth response to the book recounts a personal experience in which I almost fell victim to the vastness of the Internet. Barlow reminds us that everything that is put on the Internet is permanent, and I explain how I think that is both a blessing and a curse.

My final response to The Rise of the Blogosphere includes some of what I mentioned earlier in this post. I recount what I remember about 9/11 and what the media was like before that (which isn’t much) and wonder what the event would have been like had we had the technologies available that we do today.


Rise of the Blogosphere – 9/11

I was in kindergarten when 9/11 happened. I’d say that most people my age remember it, or at least some of the immediate aftermath of what happened. Although I didn’t really understand what was going on, I remember most of it very vividly, which might have something to do with the fact that my mother is a flight attendant for American Airlines; she knew of some of the crew working on flights 11 and 77. I remember the tension and the heavy feeling in my house and asking my mom something like, “but the flight attendants didn’t die, right?”

One thing I don’t remember, or didn’t pay attention to at the time, was what was being covered on the news before and after the event happened. Barlow brings this all up in Chapter 13, “9/11 and the Rise of the Blogosphere.” In explaining the gravitation away from watching the news, Barlow states that many had already started turning to the Internet for better coverage (157). He quotes Tom Fenton: “some nights prior to 9/11, the network news shows no foreign news at all” (156). As a young adult in 2017, that’s almost impossible for me to imagine. I don’t watch evening news very often, but when I do there is pretty much always a mention of what is going on in the rest of the world. And with the news quite literally at my fingertips, I often feel like I know about major events that are going on on the other side of the world. 9/11 changed so many aspects about life in America and around the world with regards to things like security and prejudice, but I had never thought about how it changed journalism and the media.

During the aftermath of 9/11 is when Barlow says that he “recognized the incredible power of the Web as a source of information” (158) but it’s impossible for me to imagine the Web in any other way. Reading this part of the book made me wonder what 9/11 would have been like if the world were where it is at now with technology. People would likely have been live streaming from the streets of Manhattan covered in dust and debris. There probably would have been a live stream that caught the collapse of the towers. People would have been live Tweeting and checking in on Facebook to let their friends know that they were safe. It’s all really haunting to think about, honestly.

More Rise of the Blogosphere (again)

On the first page of Chapter 9 of Barlow’s book, “Alternative Journalism,” he says that “Most other alternative publications lasted only a few issues, the articles in them quickly disappearing completely… Conversely, on the Internet, nothing disappears” (104). This quote hit me in quite a few ways.

First, this quote hit me in a personal context. As someone who grew up with the Internet, I was always warned that whatever I put on the Internet would stay there forever. We had internet safety  classes in intermediate school that instructed us on appropriate and inappropriate content to post online. As a college student that will one day need to find a job, and especially as a future teacher, we are warned about what kinds of things potential employers are able to see on our Facebook or Instagram profiles. These warnings are daunting and are pretty much constantly on my mind whenever I post a picture on Instagram or get tagged in one on Facebook. This part of Barlow’s book just reminded me that it wasn’t always like this; that things weren’t as permanent or accessible as they are now.

I then thought about this in the context of the incredible amount of information that is available to us online. We literally have all of the information we could ever want at the tips of our fingertips. We do have archives of old newspapers and magazines and stuff, but whatever is put on the Internet is really an archive of its own.

With all that being said, there is so much information out there that we have to be careful about what we share. Because there are articles and posts that can be years old, it can be easy to spread information that might be years old, inaccurate, and not relevant anymore. For example, someone had shared this article on Facebook at in the middle of January of this year.


I saw the headline and was like “YEAH!! Someone is finally doing something about Flint!!” I wanted to share the article, so of course I read it. I then wondered why I didn’t see anything else about it on Twitter. And then I looked a little closer.

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It had been published almost a year ago, now just over a year ago. While the act that inspired the article was still a great thing that happened, I thought, because my friend had shared it on Facebook, that it had just happened, maybe as some sort of act of defiance against Trump. So basically, because, as Barlow says, everything stays on the internet forever, we have to be really careful about what we share and make sure not to perpetuate the spread of information that might not be true or relevant anymore.

More Rise of the Blogosphere

In the beginning of Chapter 6 of The Rise of the Blogosphere,  titled The Rise of Professional Journalism, Barlow speaks about yet another change that occurred in the early days of the journalism industry. He says, “This is the first period in which technological changes… had tremendous impact on journalism” and that the second period “is the one we are experiencing right now” (67). Though the book was published in 2007,  I think that the second part of his quote is applicable to the technological changes that have gone on in 2016 and are continuing to go on in 2017.

His quote specifically made me think about the recent rise in live streaming. Anyone with a smart phone and a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account (and probably more social media platform accounts) can stream what is going on in their life. To be honest, at face value it seems like it could be kind of annoying. I don’t really want to see low quality videos of a concert from the nosebleed section or something of the like. But people have been using this feature to live stream events like protests and we get to see what is going on from a perspective that the mainstream media would not be able to give us. It’s been used at Standing Rock and at the Women’s March, just to name a few, and I think it’s an incredible way for people to see first hand what is going on. It’s something we didn’t really have access to a few years ago and I believe that it’s going to continue to change the way we view what’s being shared and what is going on in the politically charged world around us.

Rise of the Blogosphere 2

Much like the introduction to The Rise of the Blogosphere, the first chapter of the book focuses a lot on the history of journalism. Barlow introduces the idea of the early American coffeehouses in the 18th century. The way he describes them isn’t like the Starbucks kind of coffeehouse with acoustic music playing in the background and people writing novels, but more of a “politically edgy” place for “informal political debate” (7), which I picture as people passionately shouting at each other.

In many ways, these coffeehouses seem like the beginnings of blogs in that oftentimes, blogs are places to interact with people and their politics, especially with political opinions that might be considered “edgy.” Barlow points out this kind of similarity, too. Just before he begins his coffeehouse talk, he says, “The blogs are often considered by their promoters as a reversion, as a means of taking back power from the corporations, the representations of the rich, and returning conversation to the people” (6). The coffeehouses did exactly that; they returned the conversation to the people.

In addition to the shift in conversation from the press during both times to the people,  Barlow says that “the reaction to [the coffeehouses] was much like that to the blogs: uneasiness coupled with feeble condemnation” (7). Because the British made sure to keep a close eye on the coffeehouses, I can imagine that they would scrutinize any information or opinions that came from the coffeehouses. Sound familiar?? While our new president hasn’t been criticizing personal blogs, he has been, like I touched upon in my last post, criticizing legitimate news outlets for putting out “fake news.”

Barlow also talks about the idea of censorship during the rise of journalism: “Even without resorting to direct censorship, government continued to try to control the printers…” (4). I think that it’s been obvious that Trump has been trying to control the press and limit their freedom “even without direct censorship.” Instead of censoring the press in an outright manner, he is attempting to pit the public against it, and, to a certain degree, it’s been working.

Rise of the Blogosphere 1

The first book that we’re reading for class is called Rise of the Blogosphere by Aaron Barlow. He used to work at Kutztown, which I think is really cool and that it somehow makes it more, I really don’t think “relatable” is the right word, but “relatable” in the sense that we’ve probably crossed paths with some of the same people in the same place. It brings the book and his thoughts down to earth.

All of this information about the rise of journalism and its main concepts is somewhat new to me. I did take an intro journalism class during my first semester of college, but as one can imagine, I haven’t retained much of the information that I learned or was tested on in that class. Oops. After all, I’m an education major, not a communication or a journalism major. So, some of the background seems like things that I’ve heard of before that I think I vaguely remember, but much of it seems more like new information because of how little I retained.

One of the first things in Barlow’s introduction that stuck out to me was a quote from Leonard Downie, Jr. on page xvi:

Good journalism holds communities together in times of crisis, providing the information and the images that constitute shared experience. When disaster strikes, the news media give readers and viewers something to hold on to — facts, but also explanation and discussion that can help people deal with the unexpected.

We are in a time of crisis.

With everything that’s been going on with our quasi-dictator spewing hate towards specific media and news outlets and accusing legitimate sources as being “fake news,” I feel as though, in a sense, the tables have turned a bit; the spotlight is now on the media, much more so than in the past.

What constitutes “good journalism” is technically subjective, but objectively, in my opinion at least, good journalism is truth.

What I think is so interesting about Downie’s quote is that, taking into account the two traditional sides of politics, each is a community that has come together during this “time of crisis” and rely so heavily upon other like-minded individuals to validate their shared opinions and experiences. Peoples’ biases inherently affect how they interpret what news is being put out there and what they read. This allows them to strengthen their opinions and points of view which subsequently strengthens their community and gives them “something to hold on to.”

Another thing to point out that I think is especially profound about Downie’s quote, especially now in 2017, is that it raises the question as to whether or not social media outlets, specifically Twitter, can be considered to be this kind of “good journalism.”

Twitter fulfills all of the requirements that Downie proposes: it connects like-minded communities in “times of crisis,” allowing for people all over the world to speak to and support each other, creating “explanation and discussion that can help people deal with the unexpected” which gives them “something to hold on to” when “disaster strikes.”

The 2016 Presidential Campaign. November 9, 2016. The Inauguration. The Women’s March. The Muslim ban.

This kind of connection and interaction has becoming more and more mainstream on Twitter, and even on Facebook, and we will undoubtedly see it become even more prevalent as our new president continues to make controversial (and unconstitutional) decisions.