...in love with the sound of their own opinions, computer-linked to each other's ramblings - it's enough to send right-minded news junkies cowering behind The Times.
But the network is spreading. Blogger.com began offering free blogs - short for weblogs, or online journals - in 1999. One is now created every second. According to Technorati, a website that monitors online activity, the 'blogosphere' now comprises 27 million blogs, peddling opinions on anything from bubblegum ice cream to censorship in China. Does anyone care? Well, yes. Boing Boing, a directory ranked by Technorati as the world's most linked-to blog, has an audience of 1.7 million and commands up to $8,000 a week for ad space; AOL last year bought blog hub Weblogs for $25 million; and the BBC and Guardian's websites now endorse blogosphere musings, giving credence to talk of 'citizen journalism'.
But the anti-establishment heyday of the blog could be over. The corporates have themselves begun blogging. GM's vice-chairman Bob Lutz uses his Fastlane blog to talk product development, while Microsoft lets employee Robert Scoble criticise its products in his popular Scobleizer blog. The blogosphere is a great way to track public opinion, but beware: bloggers will pounce on blatant PR and, like pub bores, their voices can be loud and persistent.