Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday July 10 2008

Recently I did a couple of pieces for CNE, here and here, about the rise and rise of mainstream media blogging.  To quote my own words of wisdom, from the first of them:

Perhaps the biggest cultural upheaval that the old-school journalists and editors have had to endure is the notion of actually noticing the competition, their rule for decades having been that the only newspaper worth reading, or that even existed, was their own. But now internet logic forces them to admit that both personal bloggers and the columnists and reporters writing for their direct rivals constantly say good things. The practical embodiment of this revolution in journalistic etiquette is, as I say, the link. It took the mainstream media a long time to admit that enabling their readers to go somewhere else might be sensible. For several years clunky old-school websites referred to all kinds of stuff, but omitted the obvious links. We bloggers looked on with lofty contempt. They just don’t get it, do they?

Well, now, more and more, in Britain anyway, they do get it. Many old-school amateur bloggers are now either struggling to retain readers, or else switching over to the professional paid-up side of things themselves.

In short, the paid bloggers are starting to get seriously good at it.

It’s as if, when the telephone first arrived, only a few hobbyists had seen the point of it, and had at first enthusiastically chatted to one another on it, while grander people in “mainstream institutions” had sneered.  Have you actually listened to the drivel that these phoners say to each other?, said the mainstream institutions.  No, said the mainstream institutions, it’ll never catch on.  We, said the mainstream institutions, give it five years, then it’ll be gone, and good riddance.  And then five years later, they all had their own telephones.  Which for all I know is what really happened.

What this means for my own blog is that my blogroll has to be re-organised.  It used to be that bloggers were bloggers, and the mainstream media were the mainstream media, with never the twain communicating or overlapping in any way.  We might blog about their articles, but they did not deign to notice.  They might write about “blogs”, but would not deign to link to them.

But now things are very different, and I must rethink my blogroll to do justice to the world of mainstream media blogging.  It’s silly to have a separate name for each mainstream media blogger, for instance a separate entry, in the now vast list of bloggers, for Melanie Phillips, who is no longer her mere self any more, but now part of the Spectator blog-swarm.  There needs to be a separate list of mainstream blog-places, and I have to become resigned to getting to the likes of Melanie with more than one mere click.

But is that the right way to do things?  Bearing in mind that the purpose of my sidebar is to make things easier for me, and only incidentally to suggest linkage to others, how should I organise it?  I realise that this is my problem rather than yours, so if you are not inclined to help me with this, I will perfectly understand.

But then again, maybe something like this is one of your problems.

To quote the late and much missed Arthur C Clarke

“I am fond of quoting the remark made by the chief engineer of the British Post Office, when rumors of a certain Yankee invention reached him: “The Americans have need of the Telephone—but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.””

Clarke repeated this on a number of occasions in books and essays. I cannot find a record of who the specific chief engineer of the British Post Office was, so it may be apocryphal, but I tend to think that these kinds of sneers at the newfangled telephone did likely happen

Posted by Michael Jennings on 11 July 2008

We (I mean me) do have that same problem, if on a much more modest scale; on my new blog I decided to keep the blogroll hidden until I figure out the best way to organize it.
And I have my own “Melanie Phillips” example - only changing the blogger’s name to Megan McArdle and the newspaper (which is not the “paper” part per se, as she’s writing her blog online under group umbrella) is Atlantic.

Can’t say I came up with an a solution yet that is worth voicing publicly

Posted by Tatyana on 11 July 2008
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