It has been often objected that bloggers are self-appointed and lack the qualifications of independent referees. However, traditional publishers and concert managers and musicological authorities rose to their positions through market (or, at least, market-like) forces, and similar forces appear to be at work online. Any of the lists of the most-read blogs, for example, will reveal that the tops of the lists have gelled around writers with significant professional qualifications or experiences, including those writers who identify themselves simply as music-loving amateurs. Moreover, the incorporation of comments into blogs expands the content and context of the information and opinions in the blog, further assisting in the critical reading of a blogged opinion. I wrote here before:
"In other words, in order to read a piece of criticism, you have to read critically. Basta."I believe that the one of the most important changes in these institutional structures is that participants in institutional systems must become far less passive consumers of information when using it to evaluate the work of their colleagues. This may well entail reading the information in greater depth, following its own argument, and not immediately assuming that information received from traditionally esteemed channels should automatically share that esteem. There are some small signs that music managers have begun to recognize and even solicit online opinions of artists, taking advantage of the rapid, cost-effective, permanent, and viral presence of online opinion. Academia is somewhat slower: a posting on the un-referee'd alternative tuning list with hundreds of follow-ups may well represent a more serious, timely, and productive bit of music theory than an article in Teh Journal of Music Theory but, as far as I can tell, only the JMT article is going to help with tenure at Podunk U..