Only five years ago, the progressive political blogosphere was still predominately a gathering place for amateur (that is, unpaid or barely paid) journalists and activists unattached to existing media companies and advocacy organizations. Those days are almost completely over... It was, really, inevitable. Avant-garde, “outsider” developments which prove to have real support are invariably co-opted by any successful, institutional establishment. At the same time, these avant-garde movements are often willing to be co-opted, since established institutions usually have vastly greater resources than the independent, shoestring distribution networks of the avant-garde... RIP to the amateur progressive blogosphere. It provided a regular feeling of revolutionary ecstasy while it lasted, but there was no way it could last very long. It was a transitional period into a new media and political paradigm, not a new paradigm unto itself.Bowers is talking about the US, and specifically political bloggers in the US, and more specifically still, left-wing political bloggers in the US. But I think he’s articulated quite nicely what’s happened to blogging as a whole since I started (nearly half a decade ago). Like punk rock, blogging managed to change the old order, but effectively burned itself out in the process, with old media’s embrace of the idea being something akin to John Lydon selling butter. OK, some of us old farts are still keeping the faith (Look! Patroclus is back!) but for the most part we’re just hanging around the King’s Road, charging American tourists to take photos of our preposterous haircuts.
PS: Vaguely relevant ponderings from the defiantly un-progressive Iain Dale.