Following up on the possible links between blogging and democracy - been reading Clay Shirky's (08.02.03) observations about weblogging as a social system, and therefore inevitable displaying inequality: "Inequality occurs in large and unconstrained social systems for the same reasons stop-and-go traffic occurs on busy roads, not because it is anyone's goal, but because it is a reliable property that emerges from the normal functioning of the system. The relatively egalitarian distribution of readers in the early years had nothing to do with the nature of weblogs or webloggers. There just weren't enough blogs to have really unequal distributions. Now there are."

Yesterday's post suggested open publishing is non-hierarchical - which is correct from a technological or instrumental perspective, but socially speaking blogging is most definitely 'unequal'. Perhaps this makes blogging even more democratic - as democracy is inherently unequal too, as it is most commonly based on the premise that anybody who is eligible to vote (unequality #1) can elect from a select number of people (#2) a group of politicians that will make decisions for everybody (#3) in a certain period of time (#4). The point is, that this kind of professionalization of politics (and the news media reporting on it) displays a similar unequality, while at the same time displaying some kind of openness (through elections, town hall meetings, public polling, and so on).

And another thought on an earlier post, about journalism (or: media) as conversation: just read John Durham Peters thoughtful paper on conversation and democracy, where he signals "a deep skepticism about the naturalness of conversation", as he argues: "Conversation is no more free of history, power, and control than any other form. It is a style of communication that can be demotic and playful, invigorating and demanding, but certainly not exhaustive of the communicative forms native to either our species or to democratic life."

The conversational, DIY and participatory digital culture of which weblogs are an exponent cannot be a substitute for either democracy, politics or the press. Or...?