Monday, January 07, 2008

Scooters, vacation, fall

There is nothing like a list of rankings to make bloggers needy and nerdy at the same time, so it is good to see that Tim Selwyn has done sums and produced the NZ Blogosphere rankings. As expected, some bloggers are doubting the results and questioning the methodology. The Fundy Post will not be among them: this blog's standing at number 30 is quite agreeable, particularly as little was posted here for much of the survey period.

That said, I cannot resist the opportunity to examine The State of the New Zealand Blogosphere. After all, we are a nation given over to introspection, doubt and self-examination. We love this sort of thing. So, Hey ho, let's go.

For a start, there seem to be an awful lot of libertarians in Blogzealand but one hardly ever meets them IRL; is blogging a condition of membership of the ACT Party? There are a fair number of lefties as well, although I note that my own commitment to the Left is questioned by Mr Selwyn. Was it something I said?

It is also a very male list. I count ten blogs of the one hundred which are written by a woman or by a group in which a woman is prominent; only one, Red Confectionery, is a wholly female group blog. I am not sure what to think of that, especially since most of the blogs on this list are political in content. Where are the women? Are so few blogging about politics? Is it because of the troll problem?

And what of the blogs written by women which are not about politics; why are they not on this list? Where are Harvest Bird, Robyn and Make Tea Not War? Where is Wanda Harland when we need her? And why all these questions?

The answer is in the small print. This is a ranking of political blogs. It is all about "public discourse," a phrase which presumably means No Cats. There are exceptions, but then you couldn't have a blog party without inviting Brain Stab, could you? But then you can't have a party without any girls; if you don't have girls, the men stand around talking about politics.

In my less than humble opinion, the problem with blogs is that the political chaps want to have their say, so they set up blogs and link to all the other political chaps. Blogging is serious business, for serious people. The real political blogs are joined by fake ones – politicians pretending to be bloggers. The non-political blogs, often written by people with specialist interests who know what they are talking about, don't get a look in. Writing skills count less than political allegiances. And the result is a list like this, where many of the entries, whether left or right, are unreadable.

Not that Mr Selwyn is at fault in compiling this list. The dominance of political blogs seems to be a natural feature of the blogging ecosystem and is self-perpetuating. Among those political blogs are writers who are informed about the issues and can present the arguments. It is just a shame about the rest. I, for one, would rather see a good blog about cats in the list, rather than a bad blog about the Resource Management Act.

Let's look on the bright side: Mr Selwyn's list may help to bring about change. By making a list and updating it, he may bring to public attention blogs which otherwise would be overlooked. People might discover Ethical Martini, stanselen, Channel Chanel or the new blog of the legendary Liz Shaw: political, written by a woman and filled with observations such as "It's great to go outside and get some fresh air while having a cigarette."

Having read this far, you may be asking, "how do I get into this blogging craze which is sweeping the nation? Is there a dress code? Do I need special equipment?" You could start by reading the articles posted here , which includes one that tells you not to use "here" as a link term. In fact, it turns out I am doing everything wrong. For blogging success, I should be including tags (Blogger helpfully gives as examples "scooters, vacation, fall" which makes me think of Mark E Smith on a Vespa, somewhere in Italy) but I can't be arsed. I should also be using titles that are relevant to the topics, but that would be no fun.

These pages also include this helpful advice:
"To me, the most difficult thing about blogging is finding a good topic. Not all days: some days I have so many ideas that I couldn't possibly blog about them all. That's why it's handy to keep a blogging notebook or a blogging calendar. I use those 10 cent little spiral notebooks. Others I know use those calendars that the dentist, vet, and bank give away during December. There's no right answer; use whatever works for you.
I use a computer. It's a Macintosh; that works for me. I find the best thing to do with those calenders is to put them in the bin.

Here's my blogging pro-tip: nothing is predictable. Here is an example. Of all the images I have posted, the one which has brought in the most traffic is the furry girl. Yes, furries are coming to this blog. At least they don't know where I live. Yiff.

Here is The Fall, a band which has had so many members that they cannot remember the name of their first drummer:


Anonymous said...

An interesting concept, the ranked list. There's more than one way to blog a cat, which is to say that a blog may be political without being about politics.

Spinsters of the written word such as Robyn and I, not to mention our comrades-in-biology who have already thrown the next generation (viz., MTNW and Martha) are shining products of first and second wave feminism, on account of our property-owning, lease-signing, wage-earning ways.

As for prose stylings, well, yes. Many of those who write online seem to regard the language with which they write as something like Curnow's mid-century image of a poem: utterly invisible, except as a shiny window on reality.

Having said all that, since you put your atheist ranking badge on your site, I keep coming back to check it.

Apathy Jack said...

When the hell did Brain Stab get onto a list of political blogs?

Sure, if the list was of "blogs directly concerning socially dysfunctional beardos and their lack of ability to cope with working in the education sector" then sure, we'd probably be in, I dunno, the top seven or eight, anyway.

Right, off to find more pictures of cats...

Channel Chanel said...

"It's great to go outside and get some fresh air while having a cigarette."

that is fucking brilliant.

i do hope that by listing mine and liz shaw's blog in the same paragraph you don't expect me to come up with such fantastically put together thoughts!!

Paul said...

Keb, were it not for you, I would never have known about Liz's entry into blogland.

che tibby said...

heh. nerdy and needy is right. i immediately found myself demanding to be let onto the list!

i think some behaviour is programmed at conception.

Make Tea Not War said...

"Comrades in biology" heehee- what a great turn of phrase! I don't mind being excluded from the boys club. I see my blog as my own tiny, tiny little VIP room for comrades in biology and honorary comrades in biology who like the same sort of things as I do and who don't object to pictures of my cat. In fact [note to self] I must remember to post more cat photos and much, much more about gin.

PL - furries!?! Ick.

Eric Olthwaite said...

The first thing I saw when I clicked on your link to Liz Shaw was...

"The script is ready, now I'm just waiting for the web cam to arrive in the mail."

...and so I stopped.

Paul said...

It's not what you think, Eric.

The Carolingian said...

Are you ready to receive what your soul longs for?

Anonymous said...

Make Tea Not War: Paul floated some time ago the idea of a Gin Council (in which my role, among others, was to be Custodian of the Junipers). I think in this idea we have the germ of an alternative network of narrative importance, no?

Paul said...

Yes; let's talk about gin.

Martha Craig said...

I've spent the last 13 years trying to un-learn everything I studied about Politics, and I'm doing quite nicely...

EthicalMartini said...

harvestbird & Paul, EthicalMartini would love to join the Gin Council.
I will bring the cocktail shaker, some olives and the Noilly Pratt.
I know NP is not gin, but it does help to make a good martini.
Thanks to fundypost for adding me to a list of new NZ blogs too btw. It's nice to be acknowledged in your adopted home. I will barrack for the blackcaps this season, but godknowswhy, they're prettysh*te