Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Curse of Blog

Well, a rather smug and arrogant British politician is forced out of ministerial office following the referral of his financial dealings to the Metropolitan Police- I see that Guido Fawkes is happily dancing on Peter Hain's political grave, and indeed claiming his political scalp as the first victory of the insurgent blogosphere over the political class, and indeed the "old media".

The blogosphere redux ?

Well, I am not too sure about that.

The medium has changed quite a bit from the heady days of last year when a blog was being created every blink of an eye.

Despite the supposed triumph of the transforming technology, I see that several very good blogs, like InnerWest, seem to have passed beyond, and even A Liberal goes a Long Way- a former Lib Dem blog of the year- now seems to have dropped out. Newmania, for the more rabid Tories, also seems to have disappeared too.

Sure, there is a limit to what a given individual feels like telling the world. More the point, perhaps it is fair to say that people are also recognising the limits of blogs. They do not change the world, they may not be very influential, they are merely a medium.

Though Guido may feel triumphant, the fact is, that probably 98% of the UK has probably never heard of him. Despite the passion and anger that many bloggers seem to be holding back with extreme difficulty (obviously except Devil's Kitchen who has never knowingly held back anything) the fact is that the audiences are still pretty small. The attention that 18 Doughty St tried to attract for its ideas of blogging television were brave, but at a time when BBC Three is now becoming a webcast TV station it seems to me that in the end, this is television, with television economics, rather than the very low barriers to entry that characterised the original blogosphere. Although perhaps things like Youtube have influenced TV economics, in the end blogs are a different animal. The fact is that most bloggers generally do not have the perfect face for television, and the more rabid opinions expressed look far more acceptable as the written word than they would being spoken.

Of course, there are the superblogs: Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, et al, and there are also the platform blogs, like Comment is Free and, and there is a long tail of others which are not particularly widely read. Some are interesting, some are humorous, some are thoughtful, some-probably including this blog, are a bit hit and miss. I often say that I write about five good blogs a month- yet in order to maintain any kind of traffic, I still have to write at least around twenty a month. A good columnist with a national newspaper is probably more readable, since they can hone their pieces a bit more than I have time for.

However, despite the limits of blogging, in the two and a half years or so since I took up this blog I have now reached the grand total of just over 50,000 page loads, with about 20,000 individual readers. These have been largely British and American, but I also have regular readers around the world: in Estonia, Zambia, New Zealand, Georgia, and so on. A few are people I know personally, many more are not. I see from my stats a pool of about a thousand regular readers. I am regularly nominated as a good Liberal Democrat blogger, although Jonathan Calder frankly is usually both more amusing and more eclectic than I am.

This blog continues to return to certain themes: usually political, and is focused upon the general theme of political freedom and choice. The ideology of Liberalism is also applicable, I believe, in foreign policy, and I clearly see threats emerging from such powers as Russia.

Given the rather specialist nature of this blog and the rather, shall we say "individualistic" character of its author, I have actually been quite surprised by the size of readership that it attracts- several hundred people a day are now reading what a friend described as "the stuff you tend to say when we are in the pub". Not a super blog, but I hope a blog which gives people a point of view and perhaps provokes some ideas. It seems to fill a modest need, so I shall try to stick with it for a bit.


Newmania said...

Rabies ?

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