Local bloggers make their mark in the Information Age

By Andy Hobbs, Mirror editor

By Andy Hobbs, Mirror editor

The Internet takes first prize as modern society’s equivalent to the printing press revolution.

The invention of the printing press in the 1400s kick-started vast cultural and educational changes in Europe. Adult literacy spread beyond the wealthy and clergy to the middle classes. The resulting communication expansion opened countless doors to learning.

Even if large printing presses still serve as toys for the rich, they helped sow the seeds of this oversaturated Information Age.

Nowadays, anyone can share information and opinions worldwide. All it takes is a computer and something to say.

The blog, which began as a type of online diary, quickly became an avenue for everyday people to sidestep the mainstream media’s filters.

Most bloggers with an agenda typically lack the credibility of professional media — but their influence on both the media and public continues to grow. Some bloggers, such as the infamous Matt Drudge, carved their own prominent niches in newsgathering and commentary.

Federal Way boasts a handful of independent bloggers looking to spark discussion or change in the community.

James Lamb’s blog at federalwaygraffiti.blogspot.com encourages fellow residents to report graffiti in Federal Way. He started posting photos and locations of graffiti in response to the Federal Way City Council’s strict ordinance that passed in March.

“The whole idea of doing this is for it to have a beneficial impact on the city,” Lamb said in a Mirror article July 7. “My hope is (the site) can be a tool for the city.”

Auburn resident Jerry Galland’s blog may have helped defeat the recent annexation attempt. He advertised votenoannexation.blogspot.com by adorning the roof of his car with a sign similar to a pizza delivery driver. With no real rival from the other side, the blog carried a makeshift torch for the anti-annexation “movement.”

Blogs also fuel political discourse. In Western Washington, liberals voice their views on www.washblog.org while conservatives comment on www.soundpolitics.org, for example. In addition to rants about public figures, these sounding boards often present original reporting and interviews.

Local resident Jonathan Gardner established the Federal Way Conservative (http://fwcon.wordpress.com/), whose title page is topped with the mantra “I’m not going to let the Seattle Times speak for me.” The site brims with Gardner’s right-leaning musings on topics including government, global warming and morality.

Eric Schuler, 33, started federalwayblog.com to learn more about the South King County area. Four years ago, Schuler moved to Federal Way from West Seattle. He also regularly checks a blog on West Seattle to keep up on happenings in his former stomping grounds.

He set up the Federal Way blog in August. His post on a new sushi restaurant has attracted the most Web traffic so far, he said.

“It would be neat if we could all collaborate,” Schuler said about the collection of Federal Way bloggers. “We’re all detached.”

Newspapers gradually jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Editors and reporters often post informal entries on hot topics and issues that supplement their formal print coverage.

When seeking opinions on Federal Way, even The Mirror ventured into the blogosphere. Friends of the Hylebos executive director and guest columnist Chris Carrel’s quirky blog entries about his favorite Federal Way things eventually found their way into The Mirror’s print edition. These two mediums may be different, but the message inspired by this lifelong resident’s hometown resonates with readers who want to know more on Federal Way.

While the Internet makes “self-publishing” a possibility for the masses, we must compare this phenomenon to advances in higher education.

At one time, college was reserved for the higher classes who had the money to pay for it. Today, attending college is more of a necessity than a luxury.

Similarly, blogs now allow anyone to emulate the press and deliver a raw message straight to the public via a computer screen.

Like the common tool of higher education, a blog’s worth all depends on how people use it.

Contact Andy Hobbs: editor@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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