Monday, July 14, 2003

More blogging as public e-mailing

Many of my readers will have noticed that I have been blogging in a number of group blogs lately, as well as here. My occasional transport related stuff has been going to Transport Blog (lead blogger Patrick Crozier), all my non-cricket sporting stuff (and some of my cricket stuff) has been going to Ubersportingpundit (lead blogger Scott Wickstein), civil liberties related stuff has been going to The White Rose (lead blogger Gabriel Syme), and I have been also writing some stuff for Samidata (lead blogger Perry de Havilland, although the story is actually more complicated than that), although to tell the truth I still haven't quite figured out which pieces I should post there. (The editors of that site have encouraged me to "post whatever I like", but I still haven't quite got the hang of it).

A fair bit of this blogging (particularly the transport, and Samizdata stuff) is stuff that would probably have ended up here had I not had access to the other blogs. Some, however, is stuff that I wouldn't have written if I do not have posting privileges on those blogs.

Really, there are two advantages of group blogs over individual blogs. One is that the job of building an audience is one that is shared among many people. Putting enough content on an individual blog so that your audience will come back regularly is a huge amount of work. However, with a group blog, rather than needed to post something every day you can just post something when you feel like it, on the understanding that the audience will find something from someone else if there is nothing from you. (If you are offered posting privileges on an already established blog, then someone else may have already done the audience building job for you). The other is that group blogs tend to be focused on particular subjects, and you and the other bloggers will hopefully feed one another's ideas. The audience will be more specialist too. If I write something about Transport and post it to Transport Blog, I know already that the audience there are interested in transport. However, on my personal blog, some of my audience is interested in my movie postings, some of the audience in my political postings, some in my cricket postings etc.

The big disadvantages of group blogs is that they are not ultimately mine. One of the most intoxicating things about blogging is the level of freedom it gives me as a writer. I can write something, the whole world can read it, and I can say whatever I want. I can denounce motherhood if I want. I can write 13000 words about my new screwdriver set. Nobody is going to stop me. It may be that nobody will read me either, but (remarkably) some people will.

But I can only do this on my own blog. If I am on somebody else's group blog, I have to obey the rules of that blog as a courtesy to the owners of that blog. While Perry has told me to write about whatever I feel like on that blog, the implied rule is that I need to write about these things from an individualist, small government perspective. While I am free to write about the Common Agricultural policy, I am actually not welcome to say that it is a fine, fine thing that protects the tremendous heritage of the fine institution of French farming, and that it is well worth the money it costs.

Now, I am not actually going to post something in favour of the CAP, because I actually think that the CAP is an abomination. Sticking within the implied rules for Samizdata is not very hard for me, because my own views are pretty consistent with the Samizdata world view, and Perry presumably figured that out before I was given Samizdata posting privileges. But still the rules are there. In return for a larger audience and a reduced workload, I have given up some of the freedom I have on my own blog. (No doubt if I wrote for a newspaper, I would be giving up even more freedom in return for a larger audience still).

Which is why I am not going to give up my own blog. However, what is likely to happen is that most of my substantive writing is going to be going to be posted to other, more specialist blogs in future. When I cease being a dilettante, which one way or another is going to happen fairly soon, this is going to be more dramatic. This blog is likely to turn into a series of links to my writings elsewhere, with occasional really brief postings or really strange postings that don't fit anywhere else going here. And I am likely going to cease being a daily blogger.

With all that in mind, I have been wondering lately what do do about my cultural postings. In particular, I like to write about movies and occasionally science fiction and television, and I have no obvious place to put this other than here. (I can put an occasional piece along those lines on Samizdata, but that isn't the place for all of it). If I were to remove everything from here that could reasonably go on one of the other blogs on which I have posting privileges, it is the cultural postings that would make up the bulk of what is left. Plus I would like a bigger audience for some of my movie and culture related postings, because I think that they are amongst my best stuff. Someone suggested the other day that I start writing for blogcritics, but that isn't quite my style either.

Presumably, Brian Micklethwait has been thinking the same thing, because he today posted a piece on his culture blog suggesting that if I find myself too busy to blog individually in future, I might want to consider becoming a contributor to his blog. (Actually Brian was at the social event where I was discussing the fact that I was interested in finding a blog on which to post movie related postings. Perhaps he heard me).

As Brian made a post addressing me directly, I might as well do the same thing in return.

It's not a bad thought, actually. I like Brian's blog. Brian asks interesting questions about culture that have a tendency to send me off to go looking for the answers. (A piece he posted on British television advertising a few months back led me to go and re-evaluate Ridley Scott, and it became clear to me that Scott is not just the director of a couple of my favourite movies, but also quite possibly the most important pop-cultural figure to come out of Britain in the last 40 years). Brian also shares a tendency I have to watch lots and lots of smaller rather than blockbuster films in order to find the hidden gems. Plus we both have opinions on architecture and urban design. So, there is overlap, and I think I would fit quite well on the blog.

However, I am a bit up in the air at the moment, so, Brian, I will think about it.

As for whether I have a problem with someone named Michael posting to "Brian's Culture Blog", I have to say no. As another example of that sort of thing, I nominate "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine". The magazine was founded with Asimov as a sort of editorial director (although not the actual editor), and never wrote the bulk of the material for it (although he did write regularly for it) even when he was alive. He has now been dead for eleven years, and the magazine goes on happily.

And I think that may have been a slightly den Bestian response. Oh well.

No comments:

Blog Archive