Blogging and the vernacular

I'm feeling quite proud of myself at the moment, as I have just redesigned my personal weblog... and if I do say so myself, it looks pretty amazing.  It is thoroughly Web 2.0 ready, with a whole host of neat widgets that do cool stuff down in the sidebars. Perhaps my favourite bit is the tag cloud. Not something you normally see on WordPress, which is category  rather than tag driven, but, with the help of a few plugins, it works really well (incidentally, for anyone interested in tag clouds, this is one of the best examples of their use that I have seen). 

The whole notion of a tag cloud gets you thinking about the way language is used online. Coincidentally, according to the Guardian's Art's blog the good people at OUP have been doing some research looking to measure the impact that blogging is having on the use of the English language. The results might back up the arguments made by those who are cynical about the potential of blogosphere to have an impact on democratic discourse. The fifteen most common words are: Blogger, blog, stupid, me, myself, my, oh, yeah, ok, post, stuff, lovely, update, nice and shit. Hardly inspiring stuff, reflecting the often-cited criticisms that bloggers are egotistical and combative. But we might also be going too far to write off the potential democratic impact of blogs because of such data. After all, if the blogosphere will reflect people's offline interests and experiences, so political discourse and civic activities will only make a up a small proportion of what is going on. The question is whether that proportion enables people to partake more effectively and easily than was previously the case.