'Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge' - This was the slogan at the top of Wikipedia's blackout page during their SOPA and PIPA protest. And since then, proposals for both bills have been temporarily halted in an unmistakable response to the internet's outcry last week.
But as a few websites breathe a momentary sigh of relief, I couldn't help but wonder what if SOPA and PIPA were both voted through: what would the world be like without bloggers? After all, bloggers rely on social media networks as their channels of distribution. Of course, the answer isn't so simple because the blogger comes in different styles and forms. Their function within the social media landscape isn't singular and their reputation amongst the PR and marketing industries shouldn't be generalised.
So who are the bloggers out there?
Well, there's the hobby blogger:
Perhaps the world wouldn't miss him or her as they secretly blog from their bedroom about what they care most about in the world: fashion, beauty, restaurants or in Bad News Hughes' case, the minutiae of his daily life. But successful blogs have to come from somewhere and in most circumstances they usually start off as a seed of inspiration from someone's gut.
Concepts as simple as what someone has worn each day or how to put make-up on have become internet sensations. And in such cases, bloggers have given up their day jobs because their hobbies have suddenly taken them beyond their wildest dreams.
Without these bloggers, readers wouldn't be able to seek out niche content that escape the mainstream trap of being samey. Magazines need a high level of traffic to please their advertisers. Blogs don't, which means they can be a little more interesting and a lot more original.
The opportunist blogger:
Through the social media grapevine, I have heard grumbles from other bloggers about those who have uploaded products meant for reviewing onto ebay. I have also been on the receiving end, managing a social media account and being approached by bloggers requesting products to review. I like to believe that their intentions are honourable as I direct them over to the PR executive in charge of the account. In the meantime, I continue to observe their blogging activity and in some cases, start to build online relationships with them.
True, there is the blogger who is out to scoff as many freebies as they can. Their online socialite persona may be about dining at the best places and drinking in the most salubrious haunts but each time you see them, they whistle a different tune. They expect you to buy them drinks as if you were an extension of the PR agency they managed to 'blag' for that night.
Businesses of course would miss this type of blogger. I mean, who else would they have to promote their product for the price of a meal? A good blogger is influential and if people are listening to them, then it's a win win situation for the business and blogger.
The social media savvy blogger:
This savvy blogger sees their work as a piece of marketing. They have an agenda and are working to engage their readers because of the bigger picture; be it for their career or perhaps a book they are writing.
My favourite blogs are those which writers have developed a fictional character for. Maybe it's because writers understand the process of engagement clearer than the average person or because I am a writer too and admire the success of their venture. My favourite blog in this category is The Death Guide to Life by @Its_Death.
Blogs have become an essential self-promotional tool, especially for those who have the ability to think outside the box. They have given geeks and writers alike, a global platform on which to stand on. And without these individuals, the internet would simply be dominated by the monotone ringing of the corporate voice.
The business blogger:
But blogs aren't just for hobbies and fictional characters. They have also become a business-marketing tool. Websites nowadays need to feel fresh and organic. They're not static platforms anymore. They're alive and evolving thanks to the blog, which also helps with the website's
True, business blogs could be used as a form of online newsletter but the more interesting blogs are dynamic and have content that is relevant and entertaining - as well as informative and brand reinforcing. A blog also allows a business to connect with its customers or readers by developing an online community within their platform, through comments and author responses.
So, rather than silencing these dynamic voices, perhaps we should all be working towards a more integrated solution and realise that once you have opened Pandora's box, it is now virtually impossible to close.