As the blogging craze subsides and top blogs suffer double-digit drops in readership, the once-popular phenomenon still has at least one loyal audience: American spies.
For most computer users, blogs are "over" -- an inexplicable fad that peaked during the 2004 presidential race, when millions of readers flocked to hundreds of "A list" weblogs that posted bits of political news, gossip and wild accusations.
Once people figured out that blogs were nothing more than the same dull political propaganda found on talk radio or those "liberal" and "conservative" magazines nobody reads, the once-robust blog audience quickly faded.
At the CIA and Pentagon, however, the worn-out fad is the most exciting thing ever.
It's all because new information-sorting software can figure out the "hot stories" bloggers are all excited about.
This information is then delivered to out-of-touch kleptocrats such as the president, members of Congress and even local police departments run by little tyrants who want total surveillance of all residents.
"The new Open Source Center at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content," the Washington Times reported.
"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet," OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin revealed. But his cryptic statement suggests there are other blogs that are big beyond the Internet, possibly on shortwave radio or within crop formations.
According to Naquin, the White House regularly receives "blog briefings" and President George W. Bush is thrilled by all he's learning from the blogs.
"We're certainly scoring a number of wins with our ultimate customer," says top spy Eliot A. Jardines of Bush's blog addiction.
And on Thursday, the Pentagon announced a huge blog-tracking operation of its own:
"The Air Force Office of Scientific Research recently began funding a new research area that includes a study of blogs. Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism."
The results are already startling, and certainly worth the billions of dollars of taxpayer money already spent on the project.
For example, top Pentagon spies are already learning much about the secrets of the forgotten craze.
"Blog entries have a different structure," said Pentagon chief scientist Dr. Brian E. Ulicny.
"They are typically short and are about something external to the blog posting itself, such as a news event. It's not uncommon for a blogger to simply state, 'I can't believe this happened,' and then link to a news story."
Armed with this intelligence, the Pentagon is more than ready to wage warfare against this fading enemy, the bloggers.
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