Thursday, September 21, 2006

More comment on the Dale List(s)

James of Nourishing Obscurity has a nice take on the Dale List, equating it to membership of the MCC.
There were always key inside references one made in conversation which rendered the tie itself largely irrelevant. So it appears to be in the blogging world.

Read the short piece and then...

... click the link which takes you to James's expanded thoughts on the matter, which are well-worth reading.
Into this is inserted a list, which his detractors, those almost certainly occupying positions 101 to 150, have been sent into apoplexy over. Witness the very public slanging match in the comments section on Iain’s own site, following publication. Those who felt they had a perfect right to be included and weren’t, are miffed – exceedingly so. In short, the list has been hugely divisive in the British blogosphere and those we could loosely identify as fine UK bloggers are now divided into camps and on the say-so of one man, albeit an influential one.

I hasten to add that I do not include myself, as I know my place as a Johnny-come-lately and loose cannon, with suspected links to American and Canadian readerships but I do feel for certain correspondents who were once part of the UK blogosphere and now virtually find themselves in Coventry and why? Because one man published a Top 100 list.

This is divisive.

It’s also predicated on technology and I suspect that to be a Blogger blogger is one of the things not done. RSS feeds, html linking and various other goodies have now conjoined the inner circle and the rest can fend for themselves.

Which is a pity because I feel there are many ‘associate’ or ‘provisional’ members out there who have quite distinctive styles, identifiable angles and something to say, which Iain himself conceded, who now find themselves somewhat marginalized and threshing about in the shallows whilst HMS Dale, its august captain and motley crew sail proudly off into the sunset.

You’ve missed the boat, chums but perhaps they’ll return for you one day.

Do go and read the whole thing: it's well-written, coherent and, I think, a good comment on the whole affair.

Iain's Lists have certainly been talked about at length around the blogosphere: it remains to be seen whether they will generate the same flurry amongst those politicians and members of the public who do not blog or even read blogs. If it does, then this can only be a good thing: there will be more readers for all.

After all, it is hardly as though we bloggers do not link to one another all the time: it is the life-blood of blogging. Even if you did not make any of the Lists, and this must necessarily include many relatively new bloggers, there is no reason why these new readers should not find you via one of those "A-Listers" that they have heard about. And if you write good stuff, then they may well stay and, of course, through you, discover other bloggers.

And, if you didn't make it this year, well, Iain has already intimated that he may well go through this exercise again in a year's time. And there is the question of how many of the current A-Listers make it through another year, of course.

Naturally I was pleased to be included on the List; subjective though Iain's criteria may have been (and he must have tried to be slightly objective as I have been pretty offensive about and to him a couple of times), that even one person decided to mark The Kitchen comparatively highly on the ten criteria—
design; frequency of posting; writing ability; personality; comment; humour; range; interaction; popularity; independence of thought

—is very nice (though I imagine that I probably scored highest in the areas of design, frequency, personality and, just possibly, popularity rather than on ability or independence of thought): one might almost say flattering. But it should never be forgotten that I started to write this blog because I wanted to do so and that continues to be the case: that a reasonable number of people read it, and are often kind enough to leave encouraging comments (or even start a debate), is simply an added bonus.

Because I wouldn't say that my writing throws up any particularly new and wonderful ideas. Indeed, it has been through reading others that I have absorbed and developed the theories and fundamentals of my current political beliefs: the CBI, Flat Tax, a high Personal Tax Allowance, free-trade and the actual, practical philosophies behind libertarianism. I have learned through blogging far more, I am certain, than anyone has learned from me.

I regard myself, whilst still having strong beliefs and something to say, essentially as what James would designate a "cult blogger". In this case, it's the cult of people who find swearing and repulsive mental images as enduringly amusing as I do. But then, I do seem to have been at it for a long time and with no real hiatus (except during the two Edinburgh Fringes, when my posting have tended to be rather more introspective as well as infrequent). On the rare occasions when my output has dropped, one or other of the Kitchen Porters, my fellow-contributors, has stepped into the breach and done so admirably, adapting effortlessly to the "house style" whilst bringing a character and skill of their own.

Still, not to sound too sententious, but having been at this lark for twenty months now, churning out three or four posts a day on average (this is post number 1,617), I feel almost like... ahem... an elder statesman; though, only in the sense that, compared to many blogs, I have been at it for so long. At a (low) average of 1,000 words per post (many of mine run to 3 or 4 thousand; you may think that rather prolix but, hey, I enjoy it), I have racked up well over 1.6 million words (a great many of them being variations on "fuck" or "cunt" admittedly).

In that time, I have seen good new blogs flare up, burn brightly and then die after only a few months; some because their writers found that they had said everything that they wanted to say, some because of time pressures and some because of official or family pressure. There are sometimes those who pop up again in a different guise, but they rarely last for long.

Thus, I think that we can be fairly confident that, should Iain indeed indulge in compiling his Lists again next year (or sooner?), then it is likely that the political blogging landscape may well have changed dramatically.


James Higham said...

At the risk of being pukingly sycophantic about it, I feel compelled to add that your own write up illustrates to any reader just why you're rated so highly as a blogger. I have absolutely no barrow to push on this - I call it as I see it.

Anonymous said...

James' insight puts into words something that was grumbling away in my subconscious. I've been blogging for close on two years now. Mostly, my focus is politics and civil liberties, but has expanded in that time to just about anything that takes my fancy sufficient for me to articulate on it.

I don't care whether this makes me "A" list, "B" list or somewhere below that - or even on a list at all. People have access to what I write and are free to engage. That's good enough for me.

I neither need nor desire endorsement.

But, then, as I'm not on any lists, you'd expect me to say that...

Prodicus said...

If Dale wants to be voted Blogmeister UK - good career move - fine by me but it doesn't actually matter to anyone who's not making money out of blogging. As I wrote to James, I'm with Longrider on not caring either way. Many of the best (IMO) blogs I read regularly aren't on the Dale list. Finding and reading good blogs among the squillions around is as much fun as writing one's own.

James Higham said...

Your point stands, Prodicus and yet there has been considerable angst. It is becasue of this that I posted.

wonkotsane said...

From my own point of view, I am using my blog to achieve a purpose and if Iain's list helps bring more visitors then that's a good thing. It's only vanity that makes people complain about not being on the list. I was genuinely surprised to be included at all, let alone ranked so highly but if I wasn't on the list I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

Anonymous said...

Anything that can be called "the" something without further explanation is influential. 'The list', as your commenters have started calling it, may well be influential to those not blogging themselves, but I am pretty certain it has not changed the way any blogger has written... At least I hope it hasn't.

The list's useful for those who want to learn about blogging and for journos, but it's not the be-all and end-all.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Precisely. And, as I said, if it brings us more readers -- and more influential readers -- then so much the better.

Because -- although I have said that I write at The Kitchen for pleasure, which I do -- if my ravings actually had an effect in bringing about those political and economic options that I support, then that would be amazing. It would make me very happy indeed.


Anonymous said...

There seems to be a danger that bloggers are becoming a trifle, shall we say, self-regarding. A pity, since the whole joy of blogs is to see them puncture the excessive self-regard of, among others, politicians and MSM journalists, particularly, in DK's case, the heaving c*nt Polly.

Mr Eugenides said...

There's a natural tendency to be pleased when your blog is mentioned in the paper, or listed as one of the top 100 blogs, or whatever. We wouldn't be human if we were totally unmoved. But I agree, the last thing bloggers need is to get up their own arses - we have the media for that.

Anonymous said...

Blogging is blooming hard work and I think it shows when someone is committed, which Iain wanted to reflect in his list, as well as matching his key areas.

I like visiting totally different blogs too, not just the favourites on my blogrool, it's too clique if you just visit the same people all the time, after all, there are 53 million blogs out there, lots of great ones we haven't yet come across.

Tim Newman said...

I kind of dismissed the list when I saw it didn't include Samizdata anywhere on it. Given that it is one of the oldest and most popular blogs in the UK, and by far the most popular and well-known UK libertarian blog out there, I saw the omission as indicative of a flaw in Mr Dale's methodology.

Devil's Kitchen said...


Is it not? Actually, I hadn't noticed. But then, I'm not really a fan...

And it would seem from the comments on that post that I am not alone.


Tim Newman said...

Yeah, I know you're not a fan, but there's no denying its success in terms of longevity, popularity, originality (in the sense that there are very few UK libertarian outlets), and design.

I actually like it, a lot, but oddly I can understand the reasons why you don't. I guess these things just don't bother me as much.

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