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Handbook for Bloggers Cyber-Dissidents

Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. One thing's for sure: they're rocking the foundations of the media in countries as different as the United States, China and Iran.

It's too soon to really know what to think of blogs. We've been reading newspapers, watching TV and listening to the radio for decades now and we've learned how to immediately tell what's news and what's comment, to distinguish a tabloid "human interest" magazine from a serious one and an entertainment programme from a documentary.

We don't have such antennae to figure out blogs. These "online diaries" are even more varied than the mainstream media and it's hard to know which of them is a news site, which a personal forum or one that does serious investigation or one that's presenting junk evidence. It's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Some bloggers will gradually develop their own ethical standards, to become more credible and win public confidence. But the Internet is still full of unreliable information and people exchanging insults. A blog gives everyone, regardless of education or technical skill, the chance to publish material. This means boring or disgusting blogs will spring up as fast as good and interesting ones.

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