Oliver Willis, 25, doesn't match the old-school profile of political influence. He's not a rich man or a player in Democratic circles; in the 2000 presidential campaign, the most he did was purchase a Gore/Lieberman hat.
But he has a political platform of his own, a website called oliverwillis.com, which he runs from his sparsely furnished apartment in Dedham. And when he posted an essay there, promoting former Vermont governor Howard Dean for Democratic nominee, he drew a flood of comments from people he had never met. When Oliver Willis talks, it turns out, the blogosphere cares.
That's the beauty of a ''blog'' (short for weblog), an online journal that can turn anyone with an Internet connection into a mini-media outlet. Blogs are easy to create, cheap to set up, and commonplace on the Web. They can draw thousands of readers per day and dozens of posted comments in a running conversation that Willis likes to think of as talk radio for the wired.
From a thoroughly ridiculous article on the emerging blogosphere at - where else? - the Chomskyian rag that is the Boston Globe. As is their wont, the Globe starts with a semi-truth that they promptly distort out of all recognition through their desperate need to force reality to conform to their ideology. It is true that the blogosphere is becoming a force in the media, but the momentum is overwhelmingly on the Right, with writers like Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan, and not on the Left, which fancies itself as being a progressive force armed with the latest technology but is, in fact, a tired old fossil slowly decomposing in its tenure-protected university enclaves. As for Howard Dean, I've read a lot more bloggers ripping him to pieces than promoting him. Most of the big bloggers are either Republicans or hawkish Democrats, neither of whom have any use for Dean. The Globe is so desperate to push the canard that there is a nationwide grassroots surge for Dean, instead of the motley collection of psychotic extremists we are actually dealing with, (much as they are desperate to see themselves as a tribune of the toiling underclasses rather than the house organ of the leftist elite that they, in actuality, are) that they manage to screw up a very important story on the democratization of the media. Bad reporting, bad analysis, bad journalism. Welcome to the Boston Globe.