Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Onward and upward

Blogging habits evolve, and there is self-questioning among some members of the Awkward Squad about where we go from here? Some of the AS are content the way things are, some would like to consolidate, others to expand.


I am of the latter opinion, because I see blogging as a wonderful way of enlarging our contacts worldwide and sharing news and views with lots more interested and interesting people. Through following up other peoples’ blogroles and preferences, I’ve discovered some very congenial sites and people, some of whom I’ve added to my own list of ‘friendly places’ and visit regularly.


It seems to me that networking in this fashion, both as individuals and interlinking rings, is the most fruitful way of broadening our internet horizons. While the Awkward Squadders will, I’m sure, happily pursue our established wayward way, some of us who want more ongoing, themed, discussion with longer threads and wider networking could form another ring. Toby has suggested “Renaissance” as a name “reflect[ing] our desire to be universal men/women with a refusal to turn a blind eye to any topic no matter how obscure and also indicating a glimmer of hope that perhaps society could experience a rebirth carved out by the new voices in the internet age.


Sounds good to me, and I would be willing to set up a “Renaissance” ring if others want me to. The idea would be that each of the participants hosts and writes about a particular theme or themes on his of her own site, and also invites others to provide posts on those topics. Thus, if Toby’s “Reason’s Sword” was the theme-place concentrating on philosophy and ethics, I and others, as well as Toby, could [with his approval] put up posts there so that everyone knew where to go for those threads. Of course, that wouldn’t preclude the site’s host from posting on other topics as well when they wished to.


As founder-members I would suggest the following sites and themes:


1LONERANGER: the environment; the arts

ANTICANT’S ARENA: historical perspectives; social psychology; democratic deficit

JOSE’S SITE: global economic and political trends; 21st century scenarios

TOBY’S SITE: philosophy; ethics; education

TYGER: British politics


These are just very early thoughts, with gaps to be filled in both membership and topics, so let’s have a full discussion here before proceeding further. The idea of even only a handful of us starting to take more positive steps towards a renewal of reasonable, enlightened, and optimistic discourse in this gloomy decade of conflict, bigotry and pessimism is a heartening one. Thanks for the inspiration, Toby!

41 comments:

toby lewis said...

Yet still, the basic problem remains that people without the time to keep up with blogging will not visit many of the sites. Also, it is a hell of a lot more effort to keep five or more sites ticking over to a high standard than one ubersite. In fact, things could just keep as they are with one site for discussion attracting a wider audience and our own sites for uploading our portfolios so they remain consistent and doing a bit of one's own thing that might feel out of context on the ubersite.

anticant said...

Toby, I don't really understand your difficulty about navigating between sites. If there are proper links and guideposts, moving from your site to Jose's [for instance] is no more difficult than moving between two posts on my own site. It only takes one click - I do it all the time and look at many different sites in the course a few minutes.

I'm in favour of a spreading web of interlinking sites and rings, but not of an 'ubersite'. If you don't want a new ring, let's keep things as they are.

toby lewis said...

Maybe we should think about keeping things as they are on the blogging front. Yet I still fancy experience as an editor (there are far more jobs that way) so I might try and set up my own publication with slightly stricter guidelines and a liberal but professional editorial slant.

Out of interest, would this lead to cries of "satan" from others? Would anyone be keen to contribute to it even if they had to be more formal with a wider public and a journalistic agenda in mind?

anticant said...

Ah, the cloven hoof! There are always hidden agendas.....

Sounds a good idea if you fancy it. I'd be happy to pitch in, time permitting. Have you looked at sweeble?

toby lewis said...

It is more that I was thinking out loud. I looked at sweeble but I felt like trying to create something a bit more directed to my interests. Comment as opposed to news, and with the attempt to be up to the minute rather than looking for cracks in the news agenda. This may all come to nought if I find a job, but it could be a fun little project.

lavenderblue said...

I see no mention of Frank Fisher's site here............
I will not be organised.
I agree with Anticant..........
it does not take too long to hit different sites.
This seems to me patronizing - a choice of blogs made by certain bloggers only.
Yet again, and quoting Zola from some time back...'let them eat cake '.

toby lewis said...

Having had a quick e-mail exchange with Frank it looks like this might be exactly what he's doing. I simply pointed out to him the reason why the original concept failed was because it was writing under the name "frankfisher.org". He will possibly soon unveil something similar to the old site with a different name. This seems good to me and it might mean that I don't even need to go to the effort of setting up my own publication until I see fit.

As to whether trying to create something slightly different is patronising, I don't reckon so. The reason why anticant created his arena was to differentiate between a more playful blog and one that was more issue focused. It's like choosing between getting the Spectator or Private Eye. I'm just testing the waters here, hence my question whether this would lead to cries of "judas" or "satan"?

anticant said...

In fairness to Toby, I don't think he means to be patronising - he's just casting around for what he feels is the most fruitful way to utilise his computer time, which is what we all do.

I'm reasonably happy with the way things are going as I'm finding out by trial and error which sites are worth checking out and commenting on, and my own stats are climbing healthily. Its very much a matter of energy and time for me, and I don't really want to take on more commitments.

lavenderblue said...

Neither response would be accurate.
I do believe that attitudes are patronizing, not creativity.
And creativity comes in many guises.
I am all for a far wider ring of blogs, I am not in favour of pomp and bigoted circumstance.
Anticant got it right, as ever.
However much it may upset your finer feelings, Tobe, people will not obey any more rules.
A ' more playful blog' ?
Heavens Tobe, even CiF has it's moments.

toby lewis said...

To be honest I'd be over the moon if I could set up another CIF. Their mistake was to be overcautious and worry about the Graun's reputation by getting involved in this censorship lark with comments. But I quite liked the dynamic of having (some) world-class writers setting up a topic and then a free-flowing dynamic dominating the discussion. It should be possible to set up CIF lite without burning bridges with your readers.

lavenderblue said...

I like it when you are honest Tobe !
And for once I agree with you.......
That must be a first !

anticant said...

I'm entirely with you there, Toby - and that's what I originally thought the Awkward Squad was about, but it quickly became clear that it wasn't. Perhaps as well - because you need far more resources than we have to set up a viable CiF-type enterprise: a worldwide reputation, a great deal of money, and an established international readership, all of which the "Guardian" had. The ball was at their feet, but they blew it, alas, and lost the loyalty and respect of some lifelong readers such as myself.

toby lewis said...

To be fair on the Guardian though, they were probably worried about (and still are) a Demon style libel challenge. Demon had on its one of its internet servers something libellous. They were informed of the libellous content and for some reason it took them 5 days to take it down. The damages were horrendous. This, however, would not need to be something we would have to be overly concerned about for a long while, as firstly, I for one have no money, secondly, any defamatory content will probably not be noticed by many, thirdly, we could censor on the rare occasions that it did happen and ask a friendly libel lawyer (do such people exist?) to help with the apology.

lavenderblue said...

...any defamatory content will probably not be noticed by many....

ask a friendly libel lawyer to help with the apology..........??
Would you buy a Used Car from this man..?
'Honest Tobe'

anticant said...

The Guardian can well afford to employ lawyers to monitor posts and advise their removal on legal grounds. That's entirely different to arbitrarily deleting unwelcome opinions.

lavenderblue said...

Of course the Guardian can afford it.
That was not my point.

'..defamatory content will probably not be noticed by many' is, on the face of it, rather silly.
Taking a chance, don't you think ?

Defamatory content will be noticed.

CiF has a delightful habit of 'arbitrarily deleting unwelcome opinions'
As on too many blogs - what was his name ICSP, for example ?

1lonerange said...

HI all, Sorry for jumping in here kind of late. It’s been a busy day.

"The idea of even only a handful of us starting to take more positive steps towards a renewal of reasonable, enlightened, and optimistic discourse in this gloomy decade of conflict, bigotry and pessimism is a heartening one."

Here Here!

Anticant- When you first alluded to this quorum over at Jose's my first instinct was that it would be a great idea.

The suggestion of creating the "Renaissance" Quorum seems a logical solution.

Many of us seem to be talking through, around and at a "certain something" throughout a number of different threads on different blogs.

Firstly, let me state the obvious here and just say that that in itself is a pretty amazing thing granted I've never met any of you good souls and most of you live across the ocean from myself.

The blending and interconnection you people have formed (I'm quite new here) through links and blogrolls is a fascinating way to promote imagination, and I wouldn't want that to end. That being said it can get us a bit off topic sometimes. Not that that is a bad thing, much is created as a result. But, some sort of efficiency could facilitate an even more productive outcome, I think.

I wouldn't want to lose the overall vibe of "my" site that I've really just begun creating in the last couple months. However, I'm optimistic that color could be maintained while adding it to a larger portrait.
Not an "ubersite". That idea conjures a stifling of creativity to me. And I understand that is not want you're proposing anticant. :)

I like what you've done with your two sites anticant. I think that it is a logical way to separate two different uses of blogging and I've been tempted to start something like that for myself.
I don't think having several different hues in this hypothetical site is a bad thing. It would be possible to be viewed from afar and still see its overall message.

I am initially responsive to the idea that you put forth here anticant. And I thank you for offering to put it together.

More discussion focused on streamlining its objectives and possible manifestations is favorable to me.

Less is more.

Richard W. Symonds said...

Don't over-complicate things. Allow each other to 'fly' when writing. Going off 'on a tangent' might be exquisitely creative - and very amusing.

Let's just enjoy each other's company for a brief moment in time - and share our hopes and fears, thoughts and feelings, ideas and beliefs.

And, you never know, we might learn something new from each other, solve a few intractable problems along the way, and find out that we are not always right.

anticant said...

Doesn't seem as if Toby's nascent editorial ambitions are going to be satisfied via the Awks, though I'm sure we wish him well if he decides to go ahead and I for one will keep an interested eye on his product.

The only point of rings that I can see is that they make quick multiple linkages easier - but an individual site's blogroll list performs the same function. I scroll down a new blog's list, and if I like a hithero unknown site enough to want to revisit it frequently, I add it to my 'friendly places' list and sometimes request a reciprocal link. However, a themed ring might be a quicker way of getting ourselves known more widely: in unity is strength, or "E Pluribus Unum" to coin a phrase.

Richard W. Symonds said...

Remember AC, you are talking to a technophobe here - I might know how to 'cut and paste' now, but I still do not know how to put someone on my blogroll...

And this time last year, a 'blogroll' to me would have been something I wiped my posterior with in that little room...

But, with that said, I may be warming to your idea of a 'themed ring', now that you've explained it...

anticant said...

If it's a Blogger site, go to the menu page, click on "manage layout" and then "add page element". There are very clear explanatory notes on the on-line Help pages - it's really not difficult.

Richard W. Symonds said...

The 'themed ring' of yours looks much like The Awkward Squad 'web ring'...

Richard W. Symonds said...

How about calling the 'themed ring' :

THE E.VOLUTIONARIES

Just a passing thought...

anticant said...

Yes - we'd use the same webring host. I'm not suggesting abandoning the Awkward Squad, which functions very happily as it is [more power to its respective individually delgitful blogs], but rather supplementing it with a more discussion-focussed ring - in the same way that the arena operates alongside the burrow.

The beauty of rings is that you can link rings as well as blogs, so that by a single new link you reach maybe a dozen or more other new [to us] bloggers instead of just one.

If we're thinking of spreading our hopefully "benign" collective wisdom further around, and recruiting allies - or just having some lively arguments - multiplying links through overlapping rings seems the best way to do it. As has happened here, some of the new folk will stick while others will glance at us and move on. And vice versa. Fair enough. As with making new friends, you have to meet them first.

anticant said...

That should have been "delightful". Sorry folks - half awake! Back to bed now.

Jose said...

I'd like a clarification, Anticant. Topics are distributed among the different components of the ring, but if one wants to post a new thread on another one's blog is that permitted? And if so how can one do it?

anticant said...

Jose, I believe it is technically possible to allow others to post on one's site, and I shall check out how to do this.

lavenderblue said...

Frank Fisher gave posting rights to Suzon and Szwag I believe.....

tyger said...

Hi y'all

I can see you have been busy - sorry I couldn't swing by sooner Anticant. Holidays and all that.

The problem with Frank's site was the ego and the closed-shop mentality. It was self-defeating.

If you want something on the CiF model, without the PC caveat, then yeah - I'd be interested. I see nothing wrong with Toby's 'agenda' - why not have a budding ed who is going to take it seriously?

But you do need a few things.

1. Identity. CiF is The Guardian - nuff said

2. Profile. Google ranking, catchy title and URL, promotion and media awareness

3. Good writers. While the site shouldn't be a clique or a closed-shop, it should have standards and editorial oversight

4. Exclusive content - stuff should not appear in its entirety on your own blog - link with extract ok

5. Democracy - I am nobody's bitch, we need rules and accountability

Otherwise I'm up for it. Please don't think I'm being an arse, I'm not; I am very busy and any project I get involved with has to be worth while - even if success cannot of course be guaranteed.

yellowduck said...

Not feeling snubbed at all.

anticant said...

PLEASE don't feel snubbed, YD - that's the last thing intended to anyone. I did say my proposal was just a 'floater', to test the water. Whatever happens will happen. There's no wish either to rope people in or to exclude them. I'm very sorry if you got any other impression. Let's all keep on doing our own thing as it pleases us best.

yellowduck said...

Apology accepted ;).

There does not necessarily have to be anything thematic that links the blogs. I think that may end up being impossible with the blogs under discussion. I can, however, suggest you have a look at the "Defending The Blog"-ring (see here: http://defendingtheblog.blogspot.com/). This ring was set up by James Higham (http://nourishingobscurity.blogspot.com/). The main idea is that the members of this ring pledge to put up 10 posts per week to keep their blogs fresh and strive to comment on all the blogs on the blogpower blogroll. The blogs themselves range from the extreme left to the extreme right to the apolitical.

In contrast you could also try something along the lines of fisking central (http://fiskingcentral.typepad.com/fisking_central/) or wall of speech (http://wallofspeech.blogspot.com/index.html). Fisking Central has a specific mission (to fisk hokum), whereas Wall Of Speech seems intended as a debating platform. You could argue about how succesful any of the examples are I have named here, but they do provide some ideas of what a blog connection could consist of.

I otherwise agree with tyger's points keeping in mind that creating awareness is perhaps easier for an individual blog. You just have to go out and leave constructive comments on other people's blogs. I am not sure how that would work for a community blog.

Finally, a community blog cannot just present any old bollocks. So, yes, it does have to have good pieces. But that falls and stands with the level of commitment and critical editorship and perhaps also agreement on the identity of the blog. I am sceptical whether this can work long-term.

So, that's enough. I gotta go do the dishes anyway.

anticant said...

Thanks for that input, Tyger and YD. I'll check out the sites you mention.

I'm not a candidate for centralised sites, editors, minimum commitments, deadlines etc. It all sounds much too controlling to me. I blog for my own pleasure and convenience, as, when and where I please, and shall continue to do so. The ring suggestion was simply to accelerate mutual knowledge of, access to, and exchange of information with, new interesting blogs hitherto unknown to us.

If others want more than that, they are welcome to set it up for themselves.

yellowduck said...

'It all sounds much too controlling to me. I blog for my own pleasure and convenience, as, when and where I please, and shall continue to do so.'

I must admit this reflects the way I feel quite closely. Although I would be willing to give a community blog with a limited scope / mission a go - even if it is just to see what it results in.

I clearly have too much time on my hands.

anticant said...

As I said elsewhere quite a long time ago, when the Awkward Squad was set up, hurriedly and without any discussion, as an ad hoc refuge for disgruntled ex-CiFers, I assumed we would operate as a sort of flotilla. However, we have proved to be a bunch of individualist privateers, which is fun and rewarding in its own way, but different to my expectations.

Maybe the best thing is to let those who wish to 'theme' their own blogs do so, and rely on interested newcomers to find their way to us on the "better mousetrap" principle, as 1loneranger has done.

tyger said...

I have no idea what we have decided....

lavenderblue said...

I think Yellow said he would be willing to give a Community Bog a go.
This is riveting stuff.

yellowduck said...

Apparently I did.

Note to self: refrain from ouzo whilst bogging.

Richard W. Symonds said...

I don't know if this helps, but I'll throw it into the hat...

There is the reality of outer space, an ever-expanding (or contracting) universe, full of stars and moons and clusters...it appears to be limitless, mysterious and inexplicable - beyond our human comprehenion...

There is also the reality of our inner space - our minds - that ever-expanding (or contracting) universe, full of thoughts and feelings and ideas...it appears (to me) to be limitless, mysterious and inexplicable - beyond our human compehension.

Blogging (writing) is a shared, collective experience in cyberspace - we are like cyber-space truckers (Deep Purple's 'Space Trucking' is now playing in my head)...I digress...

As I see it (strangely perhaps), we 'surf' around this shared cyberspace in our 'spaceship' - and we meet each other along the way. We learn from each other...we stay for a time (maybe a short time - maybe a longer time); we become friends, and then we move on along our own space journeys, and meet other along the way.

So, how does that relate to 'themed' community blogs' etc...

Ummmm...well, if it helps us fly our 'spaceship' freely - and allows others to fly their own freely - so be it.

But if it doesn't do this, dump it quick.

anticant said...

I was originally inclined to call this post "Mulberry Bush", because I suspected it would go round and around, as has indeed proved to be the case.

As there is clearly no enthusiasm for an 'ubersite' [sorry, Toby], and no consensus about theming or a new ring, it looks as if we all will go on doing our own things, as before.

I am happy with this, as all the blogs I visit and post on [AS and other] have their own strong individuality, and are refreshingly different. So there is no call for a more orderly Awkward Squad, in my view. Making a conscious effort to keep in step would go against the grain of our strongly developed, if untidy, group empathy.

So let order flourish in disorder, and unity in diversity! Power to the posters.

Richard W. Symonds said...

Sounds good AC - but I think we need to improve on our links and speed of connectiveness...well, I do anyway.

And that requires me to be less of a technophobe...