In all these discussions about whether to "educate or legislate", one point of great practical significance keeps getting forgotten -
99.99% of the blogs in the universe hardly have any readers at all.
When I start a blog, it is theoretically correct to say that the whole world can read it. In reality, hardly anyone will read it unless I put significant effort into getting it read. A blogger (and/or his blog) needs to have considerable amounts of at least three or four of the following attributes:
1. dedication & diligence
2. writing skills
3. marketing instincts
4. a colourful, striking or otherwise entertaining personality
5. unusual talent
6. captivating life experiences
7. sex appeal or personal charisma
8. a sharp intuitive sense of readers' interests
9. a knack for attractive presentation
10. technological know-how with devices like RSS Feeds, Technorati, podcasts, Photoshop, pings, feedburners, YouTube, aggregators
... before he will be able to build and sustain a readership of any decent size at all.
My point is that I think much of Su-Lin's concerns are unwarranted. It is foolish to be excessively alarmed by the idea that large numbers of seditious, racist, severely confused or otherwise socially undesirable persons now have vast powers (via blogs) to afflict and infect the vulnerable minds of our hapless fellow citizens. Yes, anyone can blog, but most bloggers will hardly be read. Some bloggers will gain prominence, but if any of them gain prominence for undesirable elements such as racism, then their own prominence is their downfall and they will quickly be shut down.
Where a blogger (any blogger) does gain wide currency, the factors involved in his success are usually not at all easily replicable. Example - Mr Brown's bak chor mee podcast. Why was it so popular? It was very funny; very intelligent; very topical; very creative; and very accurate in reflecting the views of a very large number of Singaporeans.
Now, YOU go and try to write something on your blog that's:
(a) very funny;
(b) very intelligent;
(c) very topical;
(d) very creative; AND
(e) very accurate in reflecting the views of a very large number of Singaporeans.
... and I think you will see how difficult this is. Good luck to you!
Technorati: Singapore; Singapore media.