Saturday, March 07, 2009

Gems of Blogpower



It's been a while since the last Roundup, so I thought I'd inflict one upon you all.

But I thought I'd use this one to showcase the Blogpower blogs which do exactly what I believe blogs should do.
Admittedly, this is a personal opinion. But I read so much about how blogging is a dieing medium. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that this medium truly is the future of human intercommunication, I believe that it has the potential to change human society and I believe that certain blogs have GOT IT, if you like, and others are tentatively trying to understand the medium.

The mainstream media can never give us truth. The reasons are numerous, and some of the reasons I would give would relate to my own political outlook and would be contentious, so I will avoid those. The one with which I'm hoping you'll agree, is that by definition, MSM has to hit a catchall median. So even if it attempts to be candid (which I would dispute), it cannot be. It has to gear itself and its message. One message, one size fits all.

Let me tell you what READING blogs give me in terms of understanding. Time was when I started my day, once I'd got to the office, with a skim read of the Daily Telegraph. Then I'd chat to the admin girls, listen to how their weekend went. I didn't know it, but what I was doing was synthesising stories. I'd read what the Telegraph had to say about events on the Macro scale, now I was hearing about trips to Safeway, what a certain pub was like, the real events of peoples lives.

Everything that the Telegraph reports is about the combination of many such lives. When we use MSM blindly to tell us what is happening in our world, we miss the point. We fail to understand popular psyche. The reality of all those lives on the ground. The lives which combined, tell us why it is that our governments can say, convince enough people that war in Iraq is justified.

Blogging is the first serious attempt to make the personal the political.

We show the working- or good blogs do.

These days, I get most of my understanding of the world from Google Reader. But the blogs I will never miss a post on, are the ones that take the extra step: Merge the personal with the political. Show why they it is we should listen to them. Because They don't seek to supplant The Sun, they're not an online equivalent. But nor are they an online diary.
Those extremes will die.

The magic of blogging is in it's union of the macro with the micro, in it's ability to create COMMENTARY, whether it be political, social, historical or sexual, which is unashamedly personal; it allows all of us a greater ability to understand the human condition.

The blogs I've come to regard with most respect are those which on the one hand go in depth in to areas of human experience and perspective people don't generally like to express, but also expand on that in the wider context, cross boundaries and actually say 'It is just me? Or is this something we all feel, because I think we do. And I think that it's like this because...'

So I'm going to show you the sort of blogs that we already have in Blogpower, which exemplify exactly what ONLY blogging can do, and WHY.

Colin Campbell


Under rated blog, by a long way. I didn't used to take him seriously, I'll admit. Until I saw the brilliance of it. I'm not sure Colin himself would see why this is a great blog. I only realised its greatness the day after the Aussie election. Colin ran a post showing Kevin Rudd with the caption 'I was worried you'd blow it. You didn't. Well done mate'
Or something like that. Resonance. Short statements that resonate. This blog is a deluxe version of Twitter, and entirely run by one man. It truly is a GREAT blog.

Advice From a Fake Consultant


This is an unashamedly intellectual blog. Which is why it doesn't get the coverage it deserves. It's not, however, PURELY intellectual. The author comes across. But without being Dickensenianly annoying. A very clever example of how an author can come across and show their principles without grating on you. The guy is clearly a profound thinker but also- nice. He's a nice guy. He doesn't get on his high horse and pontificate, he doesn't hit those of opposing opinions below the belt. It's well thought through and the author backs himself up. If other bloggers can get over the desire to only read blogposts of a few lines so they can leave a polite comment and then move on, this is truly a good blog.

Bob Piper

I don't always agree with what he writes. But he's certainly not a party apparatchik. So yes, illuminating world view. I never miss what he has to say, precisely BECAUSE he's a fairly typical Black Country Labour politician. He's actually very straight and candid. If you don't read his blog because you don't like New Labour, please think again. He doesn't give much away about himself, but being a councillor I can understand that. Fact is, he's straight. Much as I hate New Labour, I'd vote for him. A throwback from the days when people sought office to represent their people. Have a read- he's straight as a die.

Critical Faculty Dojo

A nice guys blog. One can actually pick up a fair bit about Phil from it. He doesn't post often, but he's very much Mr Everyman. I don't think he cares who read him. Which is why people should.

Cynical Chatter From the Underworld


I don't pretend to get this blog. Which is why it mesmerises me. Fascinatingly honest individual. You cannot put him in a box. At once apolitical and yet very political. He is quite a succinct writer. And complex. I find it hard to form a definite opinion on him and more to the point, I'm not sure I either need to or want to. He is not a flowerbeds and honeycombs writer. But the glimpses he shows into his perspective are very rich indeed.


Kizzie


I'm not sure how many BP readers have discovered Kizzie. Not as many as should have done, methinks. It's been increasingly hard for her to post regularly of late due to complicated realities (both personal AND political), but I'm assured she will be posting frequently again soon. Why should you read her? Well, because it would open your eyes. Kizzie is a devout Muslim AND a feminist. And that's a hard battle. But it's the reality that I would say that a MAJORITY of Muslims face. Trying to reclaim their faith from hardliners in the face of a western perception that Islam itself is evil. Kizzie feels the same way about so-called hardliners the way I feel about Creationists. Kizzie represents what is, in my opinion, the TRUE voice of the Muslim in the street- not just in Cairo, bit in Birmingham, in Paris, in Kabul, in New York. Get reading.

Mutley

Mutley is just a joke blog...
If that is how you see it, you've missed the point. Satirical comedy is dead in the mainstream TV networks. We will never again have Monty Python or the Young Ones or Blackadder. Fear of risk taking amongst those who allocate air time. There is no cutting edge comedy prepared to piss on totems. Mutley take the piss out of HIMSELF. His life. But in doing so, he puts the whole thing up to scrutiny.
Be honest, when Mutley was out of work, did you not, as a reader, truly UNDERSTAND what it was like for the first time?
This a first rate satirical blog in the peter Cook strain of pushing the envelope.
Blogpower members should see it more as a Blogpower triumph than they do.
It's 'That was the week that was' The Blog.

Norfolk Blogger


This is trumpeted as a Liberal Democrat blog. Certainly, the author is very conscious of it. And yet...it's actually not, really. It's actually an anti-establishment blog which emphasises stupidity in our systems of administration on the part of someone who feels so strongly about that that he has joined the only party of the main three that can't win. The author is actually a liberal of the very old school. One nineteenth century author, I forget who, argued that the day would come, once universal manhood suffrage was achieved, when the task of true liberalism was to defend the rights of the individual against Parliament, which now believed itself to be always right. Norfolk Blogger seems in my view, to belong to that school of thought. He's actually very insightful. Don't approach it as a political blog. Approach it as a source of axiomatic wisdom, and it's very good indeed.


Sicily Scene


Cleverly done. Juxtaposition. Do you know, I don't think she does it deliberately either. I think it's actually totally natural. It might seem a fairly lightweight blog mainly devoted to food and simple anecdotes. Bit read closely. There's actually a lot of in depth political commentary. And you're more likely to read it, because it only comes up when related to real events in the life of the author, or at least, ones she can connect to. You're more likely to emote to what this author has to say on the issue of asylum seeking than you are many of the dry 'current affairs' bloggers. This blog PROVES that the personal is political.

The Last Ditch


In some ways, Tom is a fairly stereotypical libertarian, of the more right wing variety. His posts, I find, emphasise how foolish it is to try use a simple left right spectrum to understand opinion. From my point of view, blogs like Tom's emphasise just how much debating ideas is far more worthwhile than dividing into narrow camps based on 'I'm red, you're blue'. Comparing Tom's posts I find that I can violently disagree one day and vehemently agree the next. In my case, it's because I'm what may be seen as a left libertarian. But in my view, it proves the point that we should use the blogging phenomenon less to shout eachother down and more to try and discuss the value of ideas. I read Tom and think 'Yes, bang on, you really hit that point.' And next day I think 'No, Tom! No!' In terms of presenting an argument succinctly, Tom's blog is a good 'un.


The Poor Mouth


I don't know whether Jams chose his title ironically. If you wanted to name a theme for this blog, at first glance, you'd be pushed. But nevertheless, he succeeds as a QUALITY blogger, in my opinion, because he clearly has several interests and whilst he doesn't state that the blog is devoted JUST to those, they come up often enough. Perhaps I only notice those. I like his post on nature and on aspects of European history. He clearly likes those topics, they are HIM topics. And he is passionate about them. Maybe he feels he is a 'poor' mouth, because he just blogs what he wants to. But why not? Isn't that the point of it? stream of consciousness? Free your best thoughts?

The Tin Drummer

Stream of consciousness blogging? For sure. TD is a man who just...writes what he wants. Dr Who, Cricket, Stella, New Labour. Not your average combination. It's real. I mean, seriously, this blog is REAL. He just sits down and types. Now let me just state WHY this blog is worth reading. It's not well thought out, in the sense that he plans what he's going to write. It's well thought. There's a difference. As in, incisive thinking. And it's sent out raw. It has a primal quality, it springs from an inner voice behind the tongue, it is heartfelt, it is sincere, it is lacking in contrived qualities, it is rich in its rough edges, this blog, this blog is Fight Club in blog format.

Theo Spark

I know Theo Spark is kind of puzzling. Fact is it's a very successful blog. 'Hat Tip' Theo Spark, one sees it everywhere. I don't pretend to see complex in depth philosophical points there. What I do see is a blog which is now widely seen as a rich archive for the more right of centre blogger if they want something catchy. I'm not a right wing blogger myself, but I damn well wish those of my political persuasion had an equivalent of Theo Spark. People can criticise Theo Spark all they want, but in reality, he's probably the best known BP blogger.

Westminster Wisdom

A great blog. Not a great deal to do with Westminster you might think, only it is. It's actually a quite theoretical blog which mainly deals with the theory behind government, clearly of interest to the author. The history of political theory is inportant to him. I don't think I've seen a weak history post on there. In many ways- and I hope he doesn't take offence at the comparison- he reminds me of Simon Schama. This is NOT a day to day blog, it is a blog about the wider structure of human society, seen through understanding how perceptions and structures originated. But do not be fooled into thinking this a dusty academic blog. The author never loses sight of what the past teaches us about the present. Sometimes, I fear, this is too subtly stated to catch the general reader's eye. This blog IS political, because it's about the history of politics. It is one of Blogpower's intellectual heavyweights.

8 comments:

mutleythedog said...

A brilliant post, well done and thanks for including me in this, I am glad for that and genuinely embarrassed actually. The blogs include many I visit and some I don't, so I will expand my vistas now!

jams o donnell said...

Great post indeed. Thanks for the plug. I chose the Poor Mouth as a tribute to Flann O'Brien, one of my favourite authors. The Poor Mouth was a satire(originally written in Gaelic) on the way gaelic speakers were portrayed by Irish writers. Jams O'Donnell is a name taken from the book.

I must re-post two items I wrote a couple of years ago.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well done, Crushed. I agree with what you say about blogging in general. Reading blogs gives me a far more "real" sense of what is happening in the UK than reading Times Online.
Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I will pinch them for the sidebar if that's OK.

Crushed said...

To be honest, it really was a spur of the moment thing...

I guess I felt a roundup of some sort might be an idea, but I think with just highlighting specific posts, someone who isn't a regular reader doesn't really get a feel for a blog.

Mutley, time was when I used to- believe it or not- take BOTH Private Eye AND Viz. I often thought some kind of mix between the two would be a great market to corner.
You manage that successfully and add personal touch too. And that's actually good, because even when you're crying, you do so with a smile.

Jams- I wasn't aware of that, I'll have to lok that up. Sometimes I feel I feel I should have learned Gaelic in full, I'm afraid my Gaelic doesn't go much further than being able to reognise a few well known Gaelic expressions and the ability to pronounce words which I don't actually understand. I do sometimes sign my name in Gaelic, just to make a point.

I think more bloggers should write history posts and the like. It's one of those topics which is, after all about interpretation of facts and for which blogging is the perfect forum.

Welshcakes- Also, you pick up what's actually important, most often. I often add a blog to my reader, simply for it's news. I found one the other day 'Ulster is Doomed', which I added simply to keep up with what is happening over there. Newspapers can often follow certain stories with disproportionate interest and bury others. But bloggers seem to know better.

And Newspapers don't report the everyday feel of things. And most often they join the dots together to suit some editorial line.

Feel free, for sure, I'm honoured you'd value my commentary.

jmb said...

Can't disagree with a thing you have said here Crushed. I especially like the Advice from the Fake Consultant and never miss his posts. No one else much from BP seems to comment there but I think his posts are more widely circulated in other places so hopefully he gets a wider readership.

lady macleod said...

Nice blog and good plugs (sniff sniff). All blogs I read and I agree that I think blogs will continue to be a growing medium.

The Tin Drummer said...

I take the Eye and Viz.


Viz is a bit sort of humanist-left, but it's okay I guess.

I like the idea of being fight club in a blog. If you met me in what we laughably call the real world, you'd be so surprised. I'm like a rabbit, who's too scared to be a rabbit and who stays down in his hole all day. With his paws over his head.

Excellent round up, CBI. Any chance you could do the generally ghastly Britblog ones as well?

Norfolk Blogger said...

Thank you so much for the compliment. I may use it in the heading for my blog.