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Friday, August 08, 2008

The end of blogging?

This morning's Western Mail poses the question: 'Is this the end of the blogger?' I have to accept some of the blame for this rather bizarre piece as it seems to have been inspired (if that is the correct term) by my piece in Agenda in which I point out the decline in the number of Welsh politicians embracing the medium. Nevertheless I strongly disagree with Robin Turner's conclusions.

Robin writes: 'There was once a time when blogs abounded – even politicians were clamouring to leap aboard the blogging bandwagon. But with some bloggers running into legal problems, and a rise in social networking websites, the blog (short for web log) is showing signs of decline.' Really?

As far as I am aware the number of blogs continue to grow whilst the Welsh blogosphere is particularly healthy. The only group of people who do not appear to be engaging are professional politicians and that goes for social networking sites too, where the majority leave it to their researchers to update their profiles.

The article continues: 'Adam Martin, senior lecturer in computing, user interface and design at the University of Wales Newport, believes many bloggers have moved on to social networking sites.

He said: “While the last decade has seen the rise of the blogger, the past few years in particular has seen the rise of the social networking site.

“A lot of young people in particular describe their daily lives on sites like Bebo or Facebook and do not see a need to blog as well."'

To my mind social networking sites and blogs are part of the same medium. They remain an important communication tool that politicians need to embrace. I continue to have a concern that many are not doing so no matter how it is dressed up by those who are getting bored of the phenomena. What do others think?
Every politician, councillor, Mayor and party-organiser should have a blog. It should be compulsory (or at least vigorously encouraged at local and national government level). I'm sick of getting information via badly laid-out and badly photocopied flyers shoved through my letterbox at semi-random periods with the odd paragraph of copy'n'pasted manifesto. Means nothing to me.

I hope that in the run-up to the next general election, and referendum on Wales, that politicians spend as much time blogging (or Facebooking, or twittering, or whatever) as they do posing for cameras. If they desire to connect with the electorate, blogging is probably the best modern tool for doing so.

And not being "tech-savvy" is no excuse. You can set up a blogger blog and post to it from Word. How hard it that? Get your secretary to set it up.

(see my blog for other posts on this subject)
The problem I have wth blooging is the anonymity. Like Pippa Wagstaff for examplw.

This person(s) blogs anon - spread malicious garbage that cannot be challenged. Readers dont know if 'her'/their claims are genuine or not. Then when 'she'/they is/are bannned or blocked, 'she'/they expect(s) people to feel outraged about it all?

This is where blogging REALLY fails. Everything is unsubtantiated. Libel recourse is VERY difficult.

For people like you who are public figures, its fine - but for the rest of the open blogs like Pippa, like Guido - they are scum of the earth.

If there is God, I hope one day he seeks re-dress this issue on behalf of us all, in his inimatable way :-)
Pippa Wagstaff can speak for herself but she says that is her own name and I have no reason to disbelieve her. Is Pippa La Ropa Interior your real name?
@Pippa: you are right to a point about blogger anonymity - if someone like Peter makes a post, he has put his name to it, it is quotable in media and law. Anonymous bloggers are... erm.. anonymous, and readers don't know if their claims are genuine or not, you are absolutely right. (Although the blogosphere is a natural filter, untruths, like truths, tend to become apparent)

However, I would argue that, in a democracy, the right to publish your thoughts, publicly or anonymously, are very important. They are even MORE important in countries that aren't democracies, where your door would be kicked in for uttering a word of complaint. These people are not "scum", they have reasons for posting anonymously, whether to protect jobs, family etc. Would you deny them that right?

To claim people like Pippa (the other one) are the "scum of the earth", and that they spread malicious garbage "without libel recourse" - well, what have they ever done to you? Surely YOU are the one being malicious. Although I would defend your right to post what you think, you are being a bit hypocritical.
I guess he's talking about personal blogs written by people who really just want to write slightly longer Facebook status updates.

And in that case he might be right, but he's surely wrong to include political blogging in that. I thought it was generally accepted that political blogs were burgeoning? Certainly the LDB list has lengthened substantially since I started.

Social networking sites could never replace the sort of blogging we do, even though they're a much better option for bloggers whose entries are mostly "LOOOOOLLLLL wkd nite last nite crazy-crazy heres my pics :-P tell me what u think!!!!!!! OMG ROFL" & similar.
The point i am trying is obviously FAR too subtle!!!!

Of course my name is not Pippa la Ropa Interior - that's precisely the point I am trying to make here!

The point about anonymity is central to the blogging issue and why it spiralling out of control and the libel laws should apply.

When you say: "Pippa Wagstaff can speak for herself but she says that is her own name and I have no reason to disbelieve her."

What a bizarre thing to say? Pippa Wagstaff could be several people writing one blog - you have absolutely no idea do you?

And that is precisely the point! We dont know!

We live in democracy in which people/groups do NOT have to hide away. We have free speech. I could understand scum-blogs proliferating in China - but not here. Therefore, the motives MUST be suspect - and in Pippa's the motives are DEFINITELY suspect :-)))

Scum-blogs like Pippa and Guido actually UNDERMINE freedom and liberty - they dont enhance it AT ALL!

Yours in blissful, unsubstantiated and recklessly malicious anonymity -- Pippa la Ropa Interior
Anyone who post comments on line is easily trackable...

Even the people who are trying to disguise their tracks can be found out in the end!
pippa la ropa interior is a cock.

a) The libel laws *do* apply.

b) The libel climate in this country is already so vicious that we have American States introducing laws to protect their citizens from Libel Tourism.

c) The police already have God knows how many powers to intercept communications and track people down thanks to a decade of the Scare Blair Bunch.

d) Pippa Wagstaff's blog *is* written by 3 individuals who identify themselves as such.

If they *were* the same person (or several persons) it wouldn't make much difference since it is a blog about political arguments, which can be responded to on their merits.

e) Presumably Pippa la Ropa refuses to read i) Non-bylined newspaper editorials, ii) Novels by authors with pen names, iii) Articles by journalists with "professional" names iv) The entire Economist magazine v) Judgements by Judge Cherie Booth because she's really called Blair etc etc etc. vi) Most of the BBC website vii) Wikipedia etc etc etc

f) The police have God knows how many powers to inspect IT records.

>We live in democracy in which people/groups do NOT have to hide away. We have free speech. I could understand scum-blogs proliferating in China - but not here. Therefore, the motives MUST be suspect - and in Pippa's the motives are DEFINITELY suspect :-)))


Political views can affect your job prospects - not just for extremists such as the BNP Ballerina (remember the calls for her sacking because of her political views).

g) Removing the possibility of anonymity would actually exclude some people from political debate.

h) It is perfectly possible to have a consistent preudonymous identity - comments can be made and proved to be authentic using tools such as OpenID.

The real problem is worms who surf around making anonymous character assassinations without anything substantive to say.

While I'm at it:

i) Sorry for the slight duplication in points c and f.

j) In this country the web host has co-liability for any statements that are shown to be defamatory once they know about the existence of the material. The consequence of that is that web hosts take down content when they receive a mere ALLEGATION that statements are defamatory, whether or not that is the case.

That provides a mechanism to have straight and accurate reporting removed without any proof that anything is wrong, inaccurate or defamatory.

For an object lesson in the attempted suppression of basically straight reporting look at the Dave Walker-Mark Brewer case. www.tinyurl.com/davewalker.

k) Why do you think that quite a number of political blogs (including mine) are deliberately hosted offshore? It is not to escape from libel law (which applies to the location of reading not of hosting anyway) - it is to make sure that a debate happens about published material, rather than that material being bullied off the Internet to prevent a debate.

l) You make accusations ("scum blog") against Pippa W for being anonymous, and then make the identical accusation ("scum blog") against Guido who is *not* anonymous. So just what do you have a problem with - anonymity or lack of it? Or is the anonymity thing a complete red herring?

m) The only potentially libellous statements on this thread look to me to be pippa la ropa interior's statements about Pippa W.

n) I think I feel an article about Blog Anonymity coming on for tomorrow afternoon.

o) For God's sake do some homework before making such an arse of yourself next time.
I think that anyone lecturing at Newport should be regarded as somewhat less than authoritative on any matter at all.
Blogging is far from dead and buried. From my viewpoint, we've barely started yet: blogging and social networking go hand in hand — my facebook friends follow my blogs and I theirs and the two media cross-fertilise to create a powerful and heady mix, if you'll pardon me mixing my metaphors.

As for anonymity, I maintain several blogs, some under my real name, others under a pseudonym: there's a place for both. Content and context are everything...
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