As a Web communications tool, blog software utilizes a fairly standardized format for sticking content on the Internet. It's far easier that building a personal or business Web page, and is appropriately scaled for dashing off notes and responses or posting passionate, or more detached, manifestos, proclamations, encomiums and rants. RSS, trackback, OPML and hopefully something like SSE make the mammoth blog flow more manageable, and comments, photos, video, podcasts and links provide for meaningful clues, validation and avenues to pursue in search of enlightenment or disillusionment.
Fundamentally, blogs are fodder for conversation, with no credentials, job titles or degrees required other than whatever authority is embedded in the voices and accorded by readers, listeners and watchers. We vote with our clicks. The conversations, which occur within (comments) and across blogs, can sputter into inanities or resolve into truths and action, and every place in between.
Admittedly, the tools are relatively primitive and threading conversations across blogs via trackback or other mechanisms is hapharzard. In many instances, dozens, hundreds or thousands of bloggers converge on a topic, often blind to one another's discourse, glancing off an adjacent post, or piling on an overworked meme. For the most part, self assembling communities of bloggers hold a kind of virtual Socratic court, sorting out the issues of the day in a public forum, open to anyone, including spammers. It's not a serial conversation by design; it's more in the tradition of the deconstructionists, multiple parties challenging assumptions and riffing off (sometimes ripping off) of one another.
Memeorandum is a first generation attempt to corral a limited range of newsy blog content (tech and politics, so far) on a timely basis. The comment universe is an invisible substrate, which is unfortunate. Unlike Technorati or other blog search engines, Memeorandum doesn't list every blog posting it can find; instead, it cluster posts by a few selective topics based on a source-picking algorithm. It eliminates a lot of the noise, as well as some of the valuable content. A next step would be in presenting the clusters (feeds) in a easy-to-read format and allowing users to rate or rank the posts to add personalized filtering to the service. TailRank, which just launched, provides collaborative filtering of blog content.
For a journalist, technologist, politician or anyone with a pulse and who doesn't know everything, blogs matter. Every morning I can wake up to lots of IQ ruminating, fulminating, arguing, evangelizing and even disapassionately reporting on the latest happenings in the areas that interest me, people from every corner of the globe. That's certainly preferable to the old world and worth putting up with what comes along with putting the means of production in the hands of anyone with a connection to the Net...