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How much influence do blogs have?
Posted by: Billy Hollis on Friday, May 18, 2007

How about four billion dollars worth?
Yesterday Engadget posted that the iPhone was going to be delayed several months, relying on what turned out to be a bogus email for the story. Four billion dollars in market cap was wiped off of Apple’s stock price in six minutes as the “news” hit the market. Engadget quickly corrected the story and the stock recovered within twenty minutes, but many investors had lost a staggering amount of money in the amount of time it takes to brush your teeth.
Simply put, blogs are the fastest way to get information around the planet right now. Imagine how fast the information had to move to cause that kind of reaction in six minutes. And of course, we saw a company destroy its reputation in about five hours just a few weeks ago.

While live television obviously has the capability to have an equivalent level of influence, they have some real limitations. A very small proportion of their viewers care that much about when the iPhone is released. So it's certainly not live, breaking news. At best, it's an item on some evening newscast. So the broadcasters have the potential to have such influence, but barring a catastrophic event that almost everyone wants to know about, they won't use it.

Any individual blog can't reach nearly as many people. However, blogs can target exactly the ones who do care about a given topic.

I don't think it's outlandish to believe that blogs may determine the next president. Fred Thompson's potential candidacy is one example. His video response to Michael Moore has been seen by more people than saw any portion of the Republican candidate debate. And we've looked at other aspects of technology's impact on politics before.

But "Applegate", as it's been dubbed, demonstrates with a hard metric just how much our world has changed in the last few years. The way information moves has been completely transformed.
 
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Makes you wonder about the potential for coordinated, long-term informational warfare attacks, and I don’t just mean by terrorists or states. I’ll admit to not following business news as closely as a should, but the potential for mischief here seems pretty obvious (for example, trashing a company’s reputation online, then making a move to gain controlling interest when their stock drops. Or doing something similar to a competitor that you may own shares of, then selling off your shares in an attempt to create a run on their stock).
 
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