According to the Guardian Unlimited, blogs dealing with avian flu may be providing critically important information; then again, maybe not.
I guess the story is worth reading, but it's my definition of a thumbsucker: something you give the public when you don't really have worthwhile new information to offer. Some bloggers, especially wannabe journalists, think blogs are the New Big Thing...and so, by definition, bloggers are big too. They boldly report news too dubious for the contemptibly cautious mainstream media (not to mention various governments' professional liars). They blurt out what others are too chicken to say. And by implication, the bloggers must be really great people.
My view is more modest: We're like ham radio operators when a storm or earthquake has knocked out the phones, or the person with a cell phone in a skiing party cut off by an avalanche. In other words, we're a convenience—at least if we keep our facts straight and don't push our egos into the story. Otherwise we're just volunteering to make matters worse.
After a few weeks' acquaintance with the individuals and blogs that are covering this story, I'm deeply impressed with their thoughtfulness and skepticism. People are just trying to report the facts as they become available, and to draw careful conclusions from those facts. Flu bloggers are setting a very high standard for one another; this is a classic example of an online community of practice and interest.
My only frustrations at this point are with the scarcity of news sources and the lack of historical perspective. Can't do much about the news sources, but I hope to offer a survey of several books on the 1918 flu pandemic within a couple of days.