In their early days, blogs got a bad rap.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, the public imagined a typical blogger as a slovenly guy with an untamed beard, probably ornamented with a Cheerio or two, typing out his opinions of the latest Star Wars prequel rumors.
Blogs and bloggers were called immature, profane, and larcenous. A lot of people didn’t even like the word blog. As a portmanteau of “web” and “log,” it sounds more like a combination of “blah” and “ugh.”
Today, our perception of blogging is much different. Once the nemesis of Old Media, blogs now offer a vital voice within the digital domains of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. In fact, there is a total of 128 blogs among those three sites (50, 52, and 26 blogs, respectively).
And businesses have taken to blogs in a big way. A blog gives a brand another way to hone its voice. It can be a medium for employees to connect with customers while giving the company a human face. Blogs can also yield higher search rankings and grow brand awareness.
Oh yes, what a difference a decade can make. Last week, Anthony De Rosa, social media editor of Reuters, summed up how the tables have turned in less than 140 characters:
Making a difference, one blog at a time
And now blogs are contributing to public policy, too. The most recent example is the Federal Reserve Bank’s adoption of nominal GDP (NGDP) targeting. Once something of a fringe-theory, NGDP targeting has entered the mainstream (of economists, anyway), and much of the credit is being given to the blogging efforts of Scott Sumner.
While Sumner holds a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago and is now an economics professor at Bentley University, his influence was not always substantial. But in 2009, he launched a blog, TheMoneyIllusion, in which he has persistently espoused the idea of NGDP targeting.
Here’s a post from the Economist‘s blog, which links to George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen’s blog post at Marginal Revolution, which gives credit to Sumner and his blog for this new direction in Fed policy. (That sentence is meant to illustrate the popularity of blogs among very smart people.)
It’s safe to say that blogs have really grown up. They went through their awkward phase in which they were sneered at, distrusted, and often reviled by whole industries. But today the blog is the medium of game-changing ideas and constructive conversations. From the private to the public sector and everywhere in between (journalism), the blog is now an indispensable facilitator of communication that many people can no longer imagine living without.