Saturday, September 22, 2007

US State Department Enters (Muslim) Blogosphere

The NYTimes published an article today about how At [the] State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate. This effort by state department officials to dialogue with Muslims around the world via blogging is described as, "an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world."

Tre interesante, no? While State Department blogging could just be seen as another form of government-sponsored propaganda - an adaptation to new media trends - the "legitimacy" that the blogosphere gains by such governmental recognition is notable. I waxed all philosophical in my M.A. thesis about the public sphere a la Habermas and de-centering the center...Which is why I am so interested in what it means for the US government to enter the alternative public sphere of the blogosphere in this way.

In the long run, what does this trend mean for the quickly corporatizing blog world? Mainstream news venues, corporations, (and now) governments all want in on blogging. And, sure, we could easily look to other media formats that have gone from "alternative" to "mainstream" as straightforward predictors. But...given the unique nature of the blogosphere...will it fare differently?

Off to ponder...

**Note: I realize that this post neglects to weigh in on US military action in the Middle East. To clearly express my views on that topic, I think I'd need a whole other blog.

Please note that as my M.A. thesis project is complete, the George Washington University is no longer overseeing research conducted in conjunction with this blog (effective June 2007 to present). The Informed Consent Materials created while this blog was under GWU's IRB oversight are still available for your information and the principles outlined in them are still being used as a general guide for my continued work.

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