A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post – ‘Write A Blog, Kill Your Career‘, about the possibility of bloggers going into politics and the trouble that their archives might cause them. I linked to a marvellous cartoon by XKCD, Fuck That Shit, which summed up my attitude to the worry of self-censorship. This week, that piece is looking prescient. On Monday, Ellie Gellard, the activist/tweeter/blogger who launched Labour’s Election Manifesto, was ‘exposed‘ as having called for Gordon Brown’s resignation… two years ago. Then on Wednesday, Chris Mounsey a.k.a. Devil’s Kitchen came a cropper on The Politics Show, flummoxed when some of his more colourful language was thrown back at him by Andrew Neil. Mark Thompson has a good analysis:
I had hoped for a spirited and libertarian defence of his right to have an on-line persona that is close to the knuckle and still be involved in active politics.
Indeed. It is actually quite disconcerting to see Mounsey, who has built a following out of his frustration with the way politicians obfuscate and blather, having to take a similar tone to many of his hate-figures. Had he told Andrew Neil to “fuck off” the YouTube hits would have doubled by a couple of orders of magnitude, and it probably wouldn’t have done the membership figures for the fledgeling Libertarian Party any damage either. Instead, he has done this:
It is very difficult to delete anything on the internet and I am not going to pretend that I can do so. However, gradually the caches will fade away, and those parts of The Devil’s Kitchen that are most damaging—the incredibly violent (though fantastical) demises of various politicos and their grubby little hangers-on—will fade away eventually. … And so, here we are—with The Devil starting with a clean slate.
Now, I disagree with most of Mounsey’s output. I think his libertarian philosophy is based on some false conceptions at its very heart, and I find his climate-change skepticism very odd. On the other hand, I feel an unlikely kinship – as part of the Edinburgh blogging ‘scene’ back in the ‘6 we had plenty of banter, and I once had a beer with him during the festival. Crucially, his blog contatined denunciations of me and my ridiculous views, driving traffic to my site. For all these reasons, his decision to remove his blog archive from the internet makes me uncomfortable. As I said before, deleting a blog feels like a book-burning. Its an unlikely form of self-censorship, and feels very wrong.
If a blogger goes on holiday, and no-one reads his posts, does anyone notice? Straight after the Oslo conference, a week in the sun. There was no temptation to blog any thoughts while I was away, and only one or two brief tweets. Its funny that, because blogging is an asynchronous medium, I’m only announcing I was away, now I’m back. I really only mention this to contextualise further photo-blogs, with a Greek flavour, arriving later in the week.
While MK posts on the benefits of the small-web (more on that another time), we find a good example of the ‘large web’ we have all come to know. Demoblogger posts G-B4A as a Test Case in Web 2.0 Activism, highlighting the 21st century methods being employed to hasten the release of Alaa Abd El-Fatah, who has been imprisoned for his part in a peaceful, pro-democracy protest. The web can raise awareness of these issues, but we must still focus on more traditional channels in order to effect change in this particular issue. Pickled Politics suggests that Google-bombing might not be successful, and in any case should not be an end itself.
[The] free-Alaa campaign needs to become more prominent with mentions in the national papers. But surprise surprise the press has largely ignored the story … My suggestion is: organise or join a demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy or send emails to your newspaper or broadcaster of choice and ask why haven’t they yet written about this story.
Or, of course, TheyWorkForYou.com can allow you to make your MP aware of the issue. The new Foreign Secretary might be prompted to take up the issue of free speech with the Egyptian government.
Happy New Year everyone. Time to announce some additions to the blogroll. I am delighted that a few high profile sites I read regularly have added this site to their list of recommendations, and I am more than happy to return the favour. Chicken Yoghurt, and fellow Edin-bugger Devil’s Kitchen are pretty prolific hubs, of the type that have to post messages of apology if they do not post anything for more than 24 hours! I am not sure I will find a political soul mate at The Kitchen, but as one of his other endorsements declares: “I disagree with him quite a lot of the time but I actually have to use my brain to articulate why.”. Stef at Famous for Fifteen Megapixels probably leans more my way. He presents articles that are thoughtful, amusing, or both. The rise and development of the Internet is a subject that fascinates me. We are still at the beginning of the communication revolution, and those who campaign for good practice and good design deserve particular praise. A List Apart is a “website for people who make websites.” As well as carrying a fantastic design, it is impeccably coded and offers advice on how designers can mirror those traits on their own sites. Website design should be so much more than simply visual design for the screen, and these folk are the best advocates. Elsewhere, the simple site by Clay Shirky carries some concise and perceptive essays on the Internet and the digital revolution. It is an oversight that two organisations I have collaborated with on a few projects are not present in my associates list. Radio Magnetic are a Glasgow based radio station, perennial nominees for online station of the year awards. Digital technology opens up whole new ways to communicate, for those with the confidence to try. Radio Magnetic have commissioned a series of podcasts from Scottish artists, giving an insight into the process of creating new music. The FOUND Collective bring us the first podcast in the series. its quite funny.