The Blogosphere As A Spontaneous Order

American Magazine has an interesting article arguing that the blogosphere is the perfect example of a spontaneous order in action:

Left to the free market of ideas and instant reader feedback, good writing, quality and reliability in blogging secures a readership and reputation solely on merit. The analogy to “democracy” may be clichéd but the blogosphere is a prime example of Milton Friedman’s credo (“Capitalism and Freedom”) that minimal (or no) regulation and state licensing are best; they are too often a pretext to shut down competition not protect the populace.

All the more reason, then, why Friedman should be the patron saint of the Age of Blogging:  people with brains, networks, and powers of self-expression don’t wait for journalism degrees anymore to have an impact. Indeed the response of ‘mainstream’ journalism to blogging (if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em) vindicates Friedman’s skepticism of credentialing like few other phenomena of the past 50 years.  This may be a sub-part of what Friedman saw as the power of the Internet:  “The Internet is the most effective instrument we have for globalization,” he said in 2005, referring to the power of instant electronic connections for commercial purposes.  The same applies, of course, to the world of ideas, flourishing free of the state.

Professional journalists often say that blogs will never compare to the “tradtional” media because they lack the discipline that comes with experience and a trained editor. However, blogs have something that the traditional media lacks — an evolving tradition of self-regulation that correction. A blog post based on information that turns out to be incorrect is not going to be ignored; it’s going to be critiqued and criticized, and the writer is going to be under pressure to come clean when it’s been proven that a mistake was made. When was the last time the MSM admitted it was wrong ?