Friday, September 29, 2006

Martin Kelly on blogging

The minor spat between myself and Richard North appears to have either set off or coincided with one of those seams of blogtastic navel-gazing wherein we writers examine our... er... raison de blog, if you like.

What I have been struck by is the fact that everyone who has written such a piece has done so in their own idiosyncratic style: Chris Dillow and Matt Sinclair were typically analytical, each producing their own externalised theories on the subject; The Longrider was forthright but quite controlled; Carpsio and the Reactionary Snob were as vitriolic as if they had been personally insulted (which they probably felt that they were).

The latest to comment is the occasional poster at The Kitchen, Martin Kelly, a man who churns out an immense amount of writing—probably more, even, than myself and certainly better researched—concentrating on immigration and its effects. He is almost an anti-Worstall, pointing out time and again why unfettered immigration is not the best thing to happen from either an economic or social point of view: I read the vast majority of his output every day and his is the blog that I turn to whenever I want to consider what the downsides of the free market—especially in people—might be. His lawyerly heritage is inherent in every substantial post that he writes and he, too, has responded to the blog discussion in his own style.
Although it is pretty much an unstoppable force, blogging has risks - the principal one of which is the personality of bloggers.

Bloggers are not pack animals. We are private individuals with financial commitments who dare to tell the world what we think - a daily act of suicidal recklessness. We have no shareholders to bail us out when we make mistakes. Repelling my potential opponent in litigation was as easy as swatting a fly - but I would be much more windy about telling the authorities that it's actually me who writes this blog.

We are all, I think, wary of being linked too intimately with our online writings, even to the extent of creating online personas and alter egos in order to diguise our true identities. A great deal, though by no means all, of this is to do with the financial risks that we run, either through being sued for libel or through having to choose between our job and our blog.

Martin also left a comment on that Mike Ion article (that I fisked a couple of days ago) stating the following:
The harsh reality of the Internet era is that it is not only the mainstream media but also those in government who are petrified of it; the central regulation and flow of information, the very means by which all states keep control, has been truly abolished at precisely the same time that Western governments have reached depths of authoritarianism never before reached in peacetime...

Again, this was something that I touched on in this post when I wrote:
And the blogosphere is growing; Cameron must understand how it works because, by the time that he gets elected, many more people will be getting their news and opinions from blogs. The standard government spin, the tame press and the bland press releases simply won't work anymore: the government will be held to scrutiny by thousands of people whose jobs don't depend on being able to get tidbits fed to them by obliging ministers, or being able to get an interview with the Junior Minister for Paperclips's Assistant Secretary.

I, of course, had not fmade the leap to one of the logical follow-ups: Martin obliges.
When we blog we assume the duties of journalists with few of the perks. One of them is our almost complete lack of accountability. When the revolution spreads government will not encourage blogging but will fear it - and what happens that day is what's to be opposed, because,
"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts; and beware of politicians who say they want to protect the public in the aftermath of the very first big story that a blogger gets wrong and which has tragic consequences.
The day of the licensed blogger may not be far behind."

Just a thought...

Let us hope that, by the time that anyone contemplates such a thing (and, of course, finds a way to implement it), the power of the blogosphere is greatly enhanced. Or we can, of course, hope for a truly libertarian government.

Anyway, let us leave this navel-gazing scene: I noticed that Polly sneaked another article out on Wednesday and she's be at it again tomorrow. Time to play some puerile games!

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