The always perceptive Nico Macdonald has written a lengthy overview of weblogging for Spiked (although Nico, shame on him, doesn’t blog himself). It provides an informative history as well as some reflections on the current state of the art. And he offers an interesting idea for publishers.
“If online publishers, and particularly newspaper and current affairs publishers, syndicated the meta information on every article they published (title, author, date, introduction, and so on) readers could more easily find, review and organise those that were of interest to them. As writers they might choose to post a Weblog commenting on particular articles. If publishers then used the track back model to list, in the context of each article, all posts that linked to it readers could follow the developing discussion and commentary. Tied to reputation management and good presentational tools this would likely to facilitate a greater awareness of new ideas and a more engaged (and possibly more informative) debate about them.”
Victor Keegan has some interesting reflections on The Guardian’s blog against agricultural subsidies. He has a brief excursion into uninformed snarkiness (“one of the reasons for the attention that it got could have been the novelty of a ‘serious’ blog with a dedicated political purpose”), but he does get the important point about true two-way communication.
“From my own point of view, it was extremely useful because my anglocentric views were constantly amended by informed contributions from individual countries. Journalistically, it was a fascinating experiment. Normally when a leader is written, there is very little feedback apart, maybe, from some letters to the editor. This time, the reaction could be traced blog by blog. If writing a leader is like throwing a stone into a pool, on this occasion we could follow the ripples as well.”
Tom Friedman seems to have lost his bearings at the moment. I don’t think the scenario he paints reflects current reality. “It’s stunning to me that the EU, misled by France, could let itself be written out of the most important political development project in modern Middle East history. The whole tone and direction of the Arab-Muslim world, which is right on Europe’s doorstep, will be affected by the outcome in Iraq. It would be as if America said it did not care what happened in Mexico because it was mad at Spain.”
Daniel Davies has an appropriately acerbic response. “The French, that ultimate nation of realists, are unlikely to be under any illusions on the subject of whether they have any real prospect of material involvement in the post-war environment. All thats going on, is that they object to picking up the tab.”
From New Scientist: WOne of the world’s most valuable fish could be driven to extinction because an international conservation body has miscalculated how many are left in the wild. So claim fisheries scientists who are warning that flawed science is behind a decision this month to allow continued fishing of beluga sturgeon, whose caviar can fetch $3000 a kilogram.”
As with many environmental issues, there is no simple solution. As the article points out, a total ban could well cut off the funds that maintain artificial hatcheries for beluga sturgeon, hastening their extinction.