what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is blogging useful only to the blogger?

The last few days have been glorious – I was sunning myself on the terrace yesterday afternoon – and today has dawned bright and cloudless. With the extra hour’s gift this morning from summer-time ending during the night, I skimmed through the blogs I have bookmarked. It made me think about their value. Many books have been written recently about blogging – its nature and its possible social and intellectual consequences The New York Review of Books reviewed some of the books and blogs at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21013 and http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22960

My "About the blog" section tries to explain my motives for this blog - I'm trying to make sense of my professional life and to see what I can usefully pass on to to others! So the blog is a discipline on me - not yet perhaps offering the reader very much (except pretty pictures!)

What about the blogs I look at - how useful do I find them? Of course my bookmarking is a highly selective activity – reflecting the interest I have in books and organisational change. The book-bloggers are a special breed – generally retired people who have the time to pursue and share their passion for reading – generally novels. For a sample see - http://www.britlitblogs.com/
I have, so far, bookmarked a hundred-odd general bloggers whose writing reflects some of my interest in understanding social, economic and organisational forces in the world – and in contributing to “positive change”. Who are they?
The first category is those who are paid to write – journalists, think-tankers, academics. They write well – but generally in specialist mode. They focus on a specific event and then relate this to some more general principles. Journalists (such as Ian McWhirter) and think-tankers (such as Matt Taylor (RSA Head) and Gerry Hassan) find this an effortless task. Academics such as Paul Krugman also have their journalistic side.
Then there are the overtly “political blogs” – politicians and party supporters – most of which confirm how low politics has fallen. So much self-centred and petty comment. Of course there are exceptions and I will add a link when I can find one!!

Then there are more theoretical blogs which have an interest in a discipline such as economics or sociology on theory and are generally written by struggling post-graduates. For example http://austrianeconomists.typepad.com/ or http://thesociologicalimagination.com/ or http://www.themonkeycage.org/. They give an insight into the soulless world of academia!

Some blogs are like helpful librarians – referring you on to interesting articles you would otherwise miss eg http://don-paskini.blogspot.com/ And there are digests of blogs eg http://scottishroundup.co.uk/These I enjoy.

Blogging, I seem to be saying, may be good for the blogger - in raising their profile or helping articulate inchoate thoughts - but what does is actually give the reader? The gems I look for are the free-spirits – those not attached to institutions such as the BBC, academia or think tanks who have had some experience of the real-world; are not specialists and continue to have an open mind. One such person seems to be Scott London - see his comments on dialogue http://www.scottlondon.com/blog/archives/61

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