You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Blog Zone!

My apologies to Rod Serling’s memory for stealing one of the openings to his classic TV show The Twilight Zone but it seems, at times, like we’ve entered just that when it comes to the subject of blogging.

We are awash in bloggers. Even worse, we’re drowning in news and views about the world of blogging. Google “blog” and you get 2.1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) results. Newspapers add blogs to their online sites. Journalism professors talk about the impact of blogs on the news biz. Last week, I got an invite to sit on a panel to talk about blogs at a journalism conference this summer in Boston.

David St. Lawrence over at Ripples is on his fourth straight day of writing about the joys of blogging on his, of course, blog.

Blogs are not only big news but more and more are trying to find ways to turn blogs into big business. Web hosting companies offer one-click blog setup as part of their hosting packages. Ad agencies offer packages for blogs. The rush to commercialize blogs, of course, runs counter to the original premise of blogging but it is the same kind of crass commercialization that ruined the Internet for many people.

I’ve been puttering around on the ‘Net since 1994, publishing the Web’s oldest political news site (Capitol Hill Blue) as well as owning one of the original surviving independent web hosting companies.

But I waited a while before jumping into the blog frenzy because I wasn’t sure it was a long-termer on a web where fads and “the next big thing” come and go. Even after writing Muse for two years, I’m still not sure blogs are something that will last or even if they should last.

Most blogs are exercises in self-gratification (or self-abuse) read by friends and family of the blogger. Others exist as shameless self-promotion of one’s products. Still others exist as a crass corporate attempt to cash in on the craze. Too many promote hate, intolerance and bigotry. Some pass on rumor as fact and publish misinformation in a deliberate attempt to mislead.

Blogs allow anyone with a modem and mouth to become a publisher. While this can lead to the growth of “citizen journalism,” it can also lead to confusion, misstatement and the rampant spread of damaging information.

In the end, too many blogs are just opinions — and mostly uninformed ones at that.

The jury is still out on whether or not blogs serve any real or perceived public need or stand as just another part of a society of information overload where speculation replaces fact, hype stands in for truth and opinions masquerade as news.