The What-O-Sphere?

Last night’s seminar organised by spiked was pretty interesting. It was the first one of this kind of thing I’ve been to. My good friend Mira told me about it. We thought it would be a good insight into how this blogging is affecting publishing and online life, considering the fact that I’ve just started doing it.

Various luminaries of the area vented forth, from various heights of moral ground. A blog was defined as a series of posts, in reverse chronological order. Surprisingly little was said about the ease with which bloggers can now blog. For example, this blog, small and meaningless as it is, is hosted on Blogger, which is free, and the rest of the site is hosted on Freeserve, which is also free (hence the adverts). To update my site, all I need do is login to Blogger, and type away. I hit Post, and the site is updated. No mad skeelz necessary. I can do it at work, or wherever I am, with any web connection. It’s an easy way to keep your site up-to-date. I think that’s the point. Or one key point of many. People had regularly updated web journals since the beginning, but with the content management tools like Movable Type etc, the process of posting and maintaining the content became much easier, in fact almost transparent. (MT still needs techie knowledge though – Perl etc.)

In the seminar, much was made of the political aspects of blogging. I think this is very important, but I seriously doubt whether it will revolutionise politics. It will have an impact though, as did the printing press, and radio. Printing presses allowed more people to produce pamphlets, although the technology was still costly. Radio allows easy communication across the world, but again the technology is costly (to some). The personal computer is a machine that many people already have, or have access to, so the technology hurdle is jumped. OK, OK, a huge percentage of the world’s population don’t access to the web, but a huge percentage don’t have access to clean drinking water, either, so I’m just starting from my own position, here in Western Europe. Publishing is political: the act of someone writing down their thoughts so that others can read is inherently political – even if the person is just yammering on about themselves.

Usenet was mentioned as a technology and community that was touted as a catalyst for political change. Or at least as a community where like minded people can blah blah blah. But Usenet had/has a structure. The tree hierarchy helped a user to find exactly the topic they wanted. And they could be pretty certain that the people on that newsgroup would be discussing/having flame wars about that topic. Blogs are in the web. They dilute and are diluted by other web pages. You have to search hard to find a blog discussing the topic you want, and even then it may not stick to it. Anyway, those are just my comments on the seminar, and on my first experiences with blogging. Will anyone read it? Probably not. That’s another feature of blogs. They aren’t necessarily read by anyone.

After the seminar, it was down to the Mulberry for a swift jar or two. There I had the good fortune to meet Dave Green, one of the men behind the rather splendid NTK. Had good chat with him, as well as Gareth Lloyd of Kuboid, which I’ve just been looking at, and it has a very flattering (ie blurred) pic of Green and myself. I will be visiting Kuboid again – good looking site and what I’ve read sounds cool. I already read NTK every week.

Actually, Beer In The Evening is a good site for finding somewhere to sink a few. Hmmm, Streatham…