October 31, 2007

John Bull can't Blog

Sunny Hundal is one of the best bloggers in the UK, and he has identified a real problem in the British blogosphere. With certain exceptions most British blogs have tended to fit, to use Matt's categories most British blogs tend to be either investigative or gossip blogs. There aren't that many analytical blogs around- though I've metntioned two of the best there are very few, and the emphasis on getting better as a blogger is on attracting readers through stories. The main focus amongst British bloggers is in finding the latest ministerial scandal or in working out the latest infraction by the European Union. The problem is as Sunny rightly says, that that means that the British blogosphere is impoverished. There aren't many British counterparts say to Dan Drezner or Crooked Timber in the States, who whatever you think of them, publish a great deal of detailed academic material and attempt to work with it.

The problem is not that there aren't any such bloggers around- I've cited both Matt Sinclair and Chris Dillow and there are more out there who could and do this kind of blogging. Part of the problem is promotion- myself and Ashok and Ian Appleby have often had discussions about how to promote analytical blogs and blogging. I'm not sure as to how to make that work- but I do think that it is something that is missing from the whole British blogging scene. The British blogging scene at the moment is little more than an echo chamber to the mainstream media- someone like Guido for all his vaunted efforts- echoes the ideas and concepts of the media. Even a blogger like Mr Eugenides who takes apart the efforts of the mainstream media still follows its agenda- real analytical bloggers are the only way to actually make this medium independent from the mainstream media. The first indication that bloggers aren't parasitic will come when the bloggers actually start manufacturing ideas which cross into the real world. Despite the critiques of Eugenides or the scandals found by Guido the real moment of independence is when the blogosphere actually becomes somewhere which manufactures thought and concepts.

We shall see if that ever happens, but Sunny is right, until then the British blogosphere remains what it has been for a long time- a rather large parasite but nothing more than that and definitely nothing of significance.


Jock Coats said...

I heartily recommend a relatively recent discovered Notes from the Panopticon and whilst Ican't write nearly as well as "Panopticon" it is terribly wonkish!

Though part of the problem as you say maybe the size of the market. When I watch my stats I often think "If I were good at gossip or bitching I'd get far more" and sometimes I will succumb to the temptation but I try not to.

Gracchi said...

Cheers Jock for the reccomendation! I'll have an investigate and yeah I agree with you on the last bit. Keep fighting the good fight though!

Winchester whisperer said...

Perhaps it's a consequence of dumbing down

Dave Cole said...

Sadly, I agree.

I don't like to become involved in slanging-matches, but the likes of Paul Staines/Guido Fawkes have a lot to answer for.

Fawkes represents the tabloid tendency in blogging; easy, headline-grabbing and ultimately damaging. When people see the likes of Fawkes appearing on Newsnight and having lots of people ooh and aah about him, it seems attractive and that his is the best way to blog if you want attention.

I fear that this will continue as long as the print media remain, for the most part, a base proposition.

Blognor Regis said...

What's stopping you doing it then?

I reckon the problem, if indeed there is one, is that most people have got lives and blogging is just a bit of fun on the side.

Anonymous said...

I for one have seen many of my ideas pass out into the real world and have real influence there. As I am sure you will agree. I am not a large parasite - it sounds like a tapeworm I think..

john b said...

But Crooked Timber is predominantly British...!

See also: the Sharpener (which Sunny used to write for, before he became a meeja megastar...)