I believe I can say with relative impunity that the Internet is not just some fad that will soon fade into history. Nor is it any longer the purview of a few geeks interested only in sharing scientific papers and findings. The Internet has become an integral part of our society. It has become a tool for the common man, a means of commerce, education, and entertainment and a portal to a plethora of alternative sources of news and information. In my humble opinion, the advent of the Internet has spurred a new interest in the cause of freedom. Even as we have watched corruption eat away at the grand institutions we have created in this country, even as we have watched the powerful pass laws that violate individual rights contrary to the founding documents that created this great nation of ours, even as these things have come to pass and they have struggled to tighten their grasp of control over us, new hope as sprung eternal. As the mass media gained in influence and sought to convince the populace that all was well in the halls of government, particularly in the last two decades, a counter influence gained momentum. The Internet has come into its own over the past few years, and one of the opportunities it opens up for all is the opportunity to blog.
Blogs have gained in popularity over the past few years. They give the individual a chance to voice his opinion in this world full of opinions. Blogs are the epitome of free speech. They give the moderator a chance to share what he thinks with the rest of the world and meet some like minded people. But blogs can have their own pitfalls. For instance, what to do about those who disagree? Does one let them air that out on one’s blog or do you moderate them into a cyber black hole? Fortunately, the free market always finds a way to innovate and already many entrepreneurs are coming up with products to help those who own blogs and those who participate on them manage their time and efforts better. Recently I had the honor of interviewing Matt Colebourne, CEO of coComment.com and asked him some pertinent questions. Here’s what he had to say on the subject:
Szandor Blestman: The Internet has become a powerful tool in presenting to the public alternative viewpoints. How do you feel coComment helps reinforce that aspect of the Internet?
Matt Colebourne: By making it much easier to participate in conversations and to find the right people with whom to have the conversation.
SB: What features offered by your site are unique to CoComment?
MC: Lots ! Groups, Sharing, Sidebar Browsing and conversations widgets for sites, including Facebook. They're all tools we've built to make it easier to participate in a conversation and easier to share it with others.
SB: In a previous article I wrote, I expressed a displeasure in the banning of certain speech on a blog, yet I respect and understand the right of a privately owned blog to censor any comments deemed inappropriate for whatever reason. How can your service help reconcile these seemingly divergent points of view?
MC: We understand the position; however, as a large, 'meta' layer on the conversation space we don't want to be involved in censoring any comments. Sites using our technology can do so, of course, as that is 'their' space but we are a service and, as such, will only remove illegal content.
SB: Newspapers are losing subscribers and television news is losing viewers. Do you believe this is a result of the diversity of viewpoints on the Internet and the ability for the individual to participate?
MC: Partly; I think that the key issue is interaction … people expect to be able to interact and simple consumption is not sufficient to capture their interest for very long.
SB: Do you believe that corporate media giants report news objectively, completely and honestly?
MC: Sometimes ! It is not really for us to say … we are a neutral service aimed at letting users find conversations and decide for themselves.
SB: Do you believe that the Internet and blogging have or will force the “mainstream” media to change the way they report news?
MC: Yes, most definitely. Of most relevance to us is the rise of interaction, commenting on articles and we see this increasingly in mainstream media today.
SB: Do you believe that the Internet will one day become the predominant source of news? Do you believe that blogging will become more popular as time goes on, or do you think it’s a fad that will reach a plateau and then fade away?
MC: No. The internet is not a source of news, it's a medium for the transmission of information; some good and some bad. News will always come from people writing about it; but they may well start to use the internet more than other traditional channels to reach their audience since the barriers to entry are so much lower. It's much easier to setup your own blog than your own magazine.
As has been the case for millions of years, the times they are a changing. If it seems that time is moving faster now than it has in the past, perhaps that’s because things seem to be changing faster. Survival has always depended on how well one can adapt to the changes. That seems to be true for everything, including media outlets and news sources. One thing I’ve noticed, the free market is always able and willing to innovate and come up with products that consumers demand. coComment and other blogging services are evidence of a shift in how common people are consuming news and information in this modern world.