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The Observer has started a blog.

Says Nick Cohen of the blogosphere:

“What’s happened reminds me of the punk explosion when I was a teenager.”

I think he’s right. In the late Seventies fanzines printed diagrams showing readers how to hold down three chords followed by an exhortation to go out and form a new band. The equivalent now is established bloggers pointing commenters in the direction of the Blogger Template and challenging them to do better if they don’t like what they see.

The growing number and diversity of blogs today does remind me of the inky, enthusiastically scribbled fanzines sold in record shops 25 years ago. That same DIY spirit mutated into an explosion of independent record labels which provided a way for new bands to bypass the approval of satin-bomber jacketed A & R men who had, until then, been the gatekeepers to record pressing plants.

There may be a present day parallel in the way the traditional media has, wittingly or not, marginalised certain ways of thinking and forced us to seize the means of publication ourselves to give expression to our views.

Another observation which has a certain resonance with me:

I find myself zooming all over the net and listening to people I would have crossed the street to avoid in the past.

Prior to blogs it’s was amazingly easy to avoid discussing politics with those who might disagree with you or who knew more than you about your pet subjects – it’s pretty difficult to avoid them now. Write anything that’s challengeable and it will be challenged, sometimes within seconds of it being posted.

That can only be a good thing.

Harry adds: It hasn’t taken long. Already there are commenters to the Nick Cohen post claiming the Observer Blog can’t be a blog because it is not independent of the Guardian media company.

I don’t think people should get worried about ‘big media’ blogging. There might be a case for concern if such media were buying up existing bloggers (that happened with a host of online football fanzines during the boom) but a paper setting up a site for their journalists to blog isn’t a threat to anyone, its just another addition to the big mix. Reason and the National Review (among others) have been doing the same thing in the States for some time now.