I was contacted yesterday by a Socialist Alliance comrade about his new blog. Did I have any tips?
I started blogging at 5:19 PM on Saturday, July 10, 2004. -- or so my blog tells me. So that means I've been blogging for over 5 years..
So I'm a 'mature' blogger -- no longer a 'newbie' and I'm 'experienced' i I guess.
Over that period blogging has changed greatly -- the platforms have become much easier to use, more powerful in the way they operate and generate 'widgets' -- blog add ons.
But the left in the country -- the radical far lefty left -- has hardly a blogging presence worth blogging about. In contrast England has an extremely active far left blogging community that is patronized by thousands of visitors on a day to day basis. Left blogs there pull weight in the way that left blogs here do not.
In the United States the Democrats have carved out a swathe for themselves such that Democrat input has been a driver of the blogosphere there especially in the lead up to elections.
I'm not lamenting Australia's lot -- just pointing it out.
Nonetheless, the left is slowly discovering the utility of the blogging platform and are now slowly using it as a campaign medium. What that means is that the ability to setup and run a blog is as essential an activist skill as writing newspaper copy or walking a picket line.
It always amazes me that activists who can bash together a leaflet, poster or flyer on complicated programs like Corel Draw or Adobe Acrobat will cringe and plead that blogging is beyond their manual powers .
Anyway that attitude is changing -- & about time! -- such that maybe a left of blogosphere in Circus Oz is something we should consider setting up.
Over the same period the blogging platform has begun to displace standard web pages such that projects like LINKS in a technical sense, function like a blog. This preference for the blogging platform is such that as Ian Angus has suggested, it makes much better sense to run your newspaper online based on a blogging platform than to rely on the old style FTP -- file transfer protocol -- rigmarole.
You get much more widgety for your bang/buck.and it is so much easier to run that you don't need tech experts to run the sites. Anyone -- hypothetically at least --can administer a blog without any IT training at all.
However where the left has moved is to Facebook. In fact, first MySpace, then Facebook, impacted on the growth of blogging world wide and slowed it down. Now, with applications like NetworkedBlogs blogging can be integrated into Facebook in a way that previously was not possible.
Where this is going to lead in way of a future online existence I have no idea.
However, now that platforms like Twitter have taken off in a very big way, the social media trend is more and more -- like Facebook -- towards a sort of haiku like existence ruled by very short entries.
The Age of YouTube
This means that the far left's preference for many characters driven argument, rhetoric and polemics is being / will be undermined by the emergent culture preference online for the very short and snappy.
This trend has also meant that text is being sidelined by the massive growth in popularity of online multimedia, especially video. We are now very much in the Age of YouTube.
So when it comes to 'some tips' , there is nothing for it but to move ahead and skill up in line with the muti-faceted nature of the web today. In that sense, blogging is already passe -- as it has become something of a norm....
And the future?
Who can tell.... We already know how the web is impacting on hard copy newspaper distribution. Even Rupert Murdoch will lecture you on that lament. And the trend doesn't look good for hard copy. Since nothing is, as yet, resolved we are caught between a tree and a pixel -- between paper and digital media -- where the resolution looks likely to be a challenge even to the primacy of text as a media tool.
In a strange negation way that revolutions manage, we seem to be returning to a pre-literate commonwealth where human knowlege and dialogue is transmitted and shared not in the written word on paper but in the many mediums of the digital universe. We are fast approaching the McLuhanist 'global village' -- around a shared camp fire in the shape of a computer screen
And if you are wondering what that means. consider the impact Kindle (left) is having and could have on the way we even approach all literature -- including magazines and newspapers.
The irony is that the left, who in the 19th and 20th Centuries was so keen to embrace and deploy the new tech tools of Modernism --and the printed newspaper is a good example of that -- has since shied away from the role of cutting edge user of the new technologies.So while we are left in politics, in technology we are being somewhat conservative and, I guess,preferring an easy going ignorance to a an aggressive engagement..