There is a lot of talk at the moment about Irish blogging. With the events of last weekend, I suppose that is natural.
I have seen accusations that the Blog Awards were nothing more than a self congratulatory exercise in mutual back slapping where bloggers betray their very nature – that of a solitary semi-anonymous author typing in the back bedroom. A very fair comment. I agree with it entirely. But I would also say there is nothing wrong with that. It was a private affair. I didn’t see the RTE cameras there. There was no press gallery. We just got together to meet up. The awards themselves can’t be compared to the Oscars, as an Oscar is a commercial thing. It is guaranteed box-office returns. It means big money. A Blog Award, on the other hand is a kudos thing. It is a recognition by ones peers that one is doing something right. It doesn’t bring with it any financial reward, and while the winners sites may attract more viewers for a while, things soon settle back to their normal pattern.
I also read Kathy Foley with interest in the Sunday Times. She started off by slating Twenty’s book. I can’t comment on that, because I haven’t read it. But she then went on to criticise the standard of blogging in Ireland saying that "the standard and scope of blogging here still lags far behind that of Britain and America". She also complains that Irish blogs aren’t "influential". This confused me utterly. Do blogs have to be influential? What are blogs other than the thoughts of individuals? What is a "blog standard"?
Bloggers, in general, do it for the fun of it. It is a personal thing. Some will blog to showcase their business, or to pass on their expertise in some field or other. Others do it to showcase their talents, be it photography, poetry or writing. I don’t think there are many who deliberately set out to influence people. I rant about the nanny state and how wrong I think it is. If I influence people, then I am delighted, but basically all I am doing is stating a personal opinion.
Kathy then proceeded to shoot herself in the foot by switching from the established media to blogging and writing a couple of articles on her blog, clarifying what she actually meant. The problem here, of course, is that newspaper readers will have read the first article but not the follow-ups. So, while bloggers see the clarification, no one else does. Also I would be interested to hear if she received any mail [and I don’t mean e-mail] about her article in the paper. I know she received instant feedback on her blog. This in itself highlights one of the gulfs that separates the two media – a gulf that is so wide that the two should not be compared.
In one of her comments, she states that her "brief was to attempt some serious analysis of blogging in Ireland". But how can you analyse something as diverse as blogging? It is the equivalent of going around all the "painting for beginners" night classes in the country and judging the state of the countries art. Some will be good and some will be crap. But who cares whether it is good or bad? If the author is happy, then it has fulfilled its function.
I said in a reply to Kathy that there is one essential difference between the printed media and blogging. The established media is a commercial affair. I have to buy a newspaper, or a television and licence. Therefore I expect high quality standards of reporting and writing. Blogging is more akin to the soapbox on Hyde Corner. If you don’t like what you read here, then move on to the hundreds of thousands of other blogs. It costs nothing.
I want to make it clear that I am not attacking Kathy. I like her writing a lot and always read her column. I also read her blog, but I distinguish between the two. I expect different things from each, as I expect differences in the media of the other journalists/bloggers that I read.
What I would criticise is her brief. She was asked to give the exact dimensions of a cloud in the sky. It was a virtually impossible task.
I was recently awarded a pint by my daughter K8 [where she actually said some very nice things about me?]. I was chuffed.
I would be honoured, Kathy, if you would have a pint on me.