Hi Simon, Thank you for the thoughtful post on a topic we think about a lot at The Energy Collective. As our audience has grown, with a 600% increase in unique visitors over the past year or so, we review content submitted from a spectrum of blogger tones and styles and grapple with these questions daily in selecting posts to feature.
A major challenge for any blogger in this arena is the sheer number of climate (and energy) blogs of vastly varying quality. Add to that an increasing number of important social media mediums to broadcast ideas and premium for the number of Twitter, Facebook, etc. followers. As the market for ideas floods with competition for attention, there is a natural tendency, as you point out, to get louder and perhaps more critical of other bloggers, with the impersonal computer screen medium probably exacerbating the trend. I think this is particularly acute towards the tails of the distribution of very strong political and/or technology preferences.
What is the impact of all of the noise? On a positive note, it makes even-handed bloggers who are thorough, including our Advisory board members, even more valuable and trusted to readers. The value of their analysis increases and a small number of trusted blogs are amplified, appropriately and to good end.
But it is critical to ask who these bloggers are reaching and whether, as you say, it is an "inside baseball" game or one that welcomes interested readers from outside the core. Does more noise make it easier or harder for the best thinking to rise to the top in the competition for bandwidth?
I'm not sure if you met him when we overlaped at Princeton, but a Politics professor here, Marcus Prior, wrote an execellent book "Post-Broadcast Democracy," focused on TV broadcasting, which analyzes the same issues. More extreme political polarization in the U.S. has tracked with increasingly specialized consumption of news and information, with those who disagree with each other rarely operating in the same arenas.
Valuable food for thought.
I hope all is well with you at UBC! Best, Rebecca