Perusing the Daily Cardinal's list* of most influential people in Madison today, I have to admit I was saddened by something -- only one is a blogger (okay, you're right, I'm not counting Brenda Konkel, but I mean, really...); and there are no student bloggers listed at all.
At the risk of nostalgia clouding my better judgment, I have to say that in the time when LiB was still a student blog, there was a healthy and heady atmosphere of online opinion coming from the students. And that opinion had a direct influence on the student newspapers and on campus organizations -- without ego, I can say that LiB was read by a very healthy slice of the student leadership on campus. Leaders like David Lapidus (after starting here!) went on to their own blogs as well.
That swarm of discussion should have at least rated a collective slot on the influence list -- but in the years since we graduated, that atmosphere has dried up. I'd be hard pressed now to name anything acting as a kind of central blog, much less a network of blogs discussing student life and issues, on campus. A quick glance at our "Shipwrecks" section on the right is an indication of how precipitously things fell off.
I suppose that in part, blogs are a bit passe now -- Facebook and Twitter are the new hotness, and this medium is just a bit dated. But it also seems to say something about a diminished atmosphere, a loss of vitality.
It's more than disheartening -- I think it's a real disservice to students. There is a real public good in liveblogging events, of being able to report from the scene of major university events in a way that the daily papers cannot. There is also a commitment to interaction that blogging suggests -- an involvement in campus life that is unique. Blogging, when done right, represents another aspect to the sifting and winnowing that can't be got from the other traditional media sources.
Will it come back? There's always the chance. It's a shame some enterprising editor doesn't attach a blog feature to one of the student papers, but it doesn't seem that that's going to happen anytime soon. (No, the Herald's blog section doesn't count -- none of the blogs hosted there are updated nearly frequently enough to really be considered worth the effort.)
It's a pity.
*link goes to the number one slot -- weirdly, they're all separate articles, with no central link to go to the entire list.