Andrew Sullivan Predicted the Future of the Internet in 2002

Well, it is a little rankling to read about how Slate’s Jacob Weisberg INVENTED THE INTERNET. Or, as he puts it, in a “we got new offices” profile of Slate, “We basically invented blogging.” Which, okay, no, not really. But you know what? While investigating the historical record, we stumbled across this little bit of history from May 10, 2002, in an article headlined “APOCALYPSE IS UPON THE BLOGGERS OF THE WEB—OR IS IT?,” by one Seth Mnookin, then a reporter at the New York Sun.

Mr. Sullivan, for his part, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. But, of course, he had posted a small item on www.andrewsullivan.com. “In my opinion, most online magazines will in the not-so-distant future become agglomerations of bloggers,” he wrote. “Their most popular features are already drifting in that direction. What they will eventually become will be more like talk-radio stations, where a handful of provocative bloggers will create a branded talk environment, rather like the blogosphere itself, but with a few editors picking which people to include.”

Ta da! We actually should give him some kind of award for this.

And, to even be fair to Weisberg, he has come down on the right side of history for quite a few years! Also in 2005, he wrote:

[M]any old-line journalists have tried to define their work in a ways that exclude the new aspirants. Insitutionalized journalists argue that bloggers don’t do conventional reporting, aren’t accurate, aren’t responsible, or aren’t paid “and hence are not genuine reporters. They fret that the current influx of amateurs will undermine professional standards or that seasoned professionals will be unfairly brought down by an electronic lynch mob, as some posit that Dan Rather of CBS and Eason Jordan of CNN were.

Disregard all such self-interested whining.

So with that in mind we won’t even get fussy and picky about the rest of the things Weisberg puts forward in the interview. Here’s to everyone! The Internet, it is full of friends! And mostly: thank God everyone’s done fussing about “what journalism is.” That was the worst conversation ever, and the annoying people lost that argument quite thoroughly.

Update: Weisberg thoroughly trashes the piece in a memo as “a good example of a kind of bad journalism we thankfully seldom see at Slate.” SHEESH.