Perlmutter, Professor of Journalism at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Kansas, gave a truly interesting overview of the changes being driven by blogging in political arenas. He noted that criticisms leveled against blogging were very similar to the criticisms leveled against radio as it was rising to compete with the print media. There is a history of new technology coming along and a politician deciding “Hey I can use this technology to my advantage” as Frankline D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s fireside chats were talking directly to the American people, bypassing traditional media, in order to persuade the American people and personalize the President to those citizens in their own homes, sitting before the “radio” hearth. Radio was new media for FDR and he used it. Effectively.

Blog technology came along at a point when the vast population was experiencing some level of disenchantment with the “horse race” approach of the media to the electoral process. Perlmutter sees blogs as playing an influential role as individuals use the technology to organize themselves over the Internet (shades of Clay Shirkey’s Here Comes Everybody). Even small groups of 500 individuals can shift the story and the dynamic.

The friction with regard to scholarly publishing was raised during the Q and A session, when someone asked about the presence of the filter in such a publishing environment. Publishers – particularly in this arena – have traditionally provided that service. In an age of instantaneous publishing and open access, who will provide that filter?

One side note – Perlmutter’s book, Blogwars, offers the most cogent explanation of exit polls that I personally have ever encountered. On that score alone, I can heartily recommend the book, available from Oxford University Press.