Saturday, May 05, 2007


Ineptly heralded in the previous post, my ideas on whether or not Comment is Free is really a blog, and whether we need a new word for these hybrids. Oh, and punk rock as well. Many thanks to Patroclus for her inspiration on this one.

Interestingly, a few other bloggers have been raising similar issues of identity in the past few days. Anna Pickard, who blogs here but also works for The Guardian, seems fully signed up to the notion that what her employer calls a blog, is a blog: on yet another Guardian blog, on which she slags off Radio 2's blogging-related sitcom, she begins her piece "Hello. This is a blog." Which is nice and unequivocal, although I'm a bit worried that she might have expected a Radio 2 sitcom to be anything other than inane arse. (Which it is. And the central character is also a Scummer, which is worse.)

Iain Dale, meanwhile, who is best known for his own blog, but also blogs (should that be "neoblogs"?) at Comment is Free, often about blogging (are you confused yet?) points out that two prominent political bloggers have actually been enticed to dump their own blogs and reinvent themselves under new, corporate colours (in this case, those of The Spectator).

This is an interesting development. If someone were to pay you to neoblog on their site (presumably for money, but possibly with other contractual strings attached), would you be prepared to leave your own blog behind? Depends on the strings, I suppose. And the money. Although the question remains: would you still call youself a blogger?


Ally said...

I like the way your CiF piece finishes at the moment,Tim

"What do you reckon?

Comments have now been closed on this entry.

I dare say they'll fix it later, but just in case they don't, here's what I wanted to say:

I'm not sure about blogging being the new punk.

I think the new laptop electronica is a better analogy. All you need to get started is a computer and a bit of software. If you lack any original ideas you can always just sample an idea from someone else's blog and loop it indefinitely. Most of it is predictable and dull, much of it is completely incomprehensible. But the talented people can seemingly generate something fresh, brilliant and unprecedented out of thin air.

There are some who are audacious, brutal, blackly funny, occasionally terrifying: Guido Fawkes = Aphex Twin
There are some who are gentle, seductive, cinematic, even downright beautiful: A Beautiful Revolution = Ulrich Schnauss
Some are obtuse, unpredictable yet ultimately deeply rewarding: Smirking Chimp = Autechre.

So, what is CiF? Here's one for you Tim - CiF is 'Kid A' by Radiohead.

On first appearance it seems to be the real thing. On closer inspection it is crafted in a big studio with a huge budget and extensive backroom staff. It's undoubtedly challenging, intelligent and well put together. But deep down we know it's a facsmile rather than the real thing.

This post was brought to you by the Royal Society for Tenuous Analogies

Jun Okumura said...

I know someone personally who allows no comments, won't accept email, and has no blogroll. Does that make him a neo-neoblogger? Blugger?

patroclus said...

jun: your friend doesn't have a blog; he has a *website*.

Annie said...

Eep, comments closed. I didn't want to say anything much, anyway, except that I loved the bit "...oblivious to the fact that they themselves had been made irrelevant in the space of two and a half chords."

You're fab. But as you've pointed out before, we're all too lovely, so maybe it's best I keep this comment over here and try to say something critical and truculent over there. Although I tend not to comment over there because a) I'm shy, and b) what's the point in commenting if it's not going to direct traffic back to your own blog? Hmm...

Mapeel said...

I'm just waiting for the "o" to drop out of "blog-o-sphere." Who put that cheesy "o" in to start with? Very fities sensability, very wrong.

patroclus said...

In my excitement I forgot to thank you for the link, Tim. I had a terrible fear that loads of CiF commenters (and/or Jonathan Freedland) were going to appear on my blog and spit at me in authentic punk fashion, but fortunately nothing untoward has occurred.

I think that what you're seeing might just be the distinction between professional/commercial and amateur blogging. Being paid to blog makes you a professional blogger; doing it as a hobby in your own time makes you an amateur. Lots of people (including you and me) manage to do both quite happily.

But because blogging started out as an amateur activity which has since been co-opted by the professional/commercial world (not just the media), there's an entirely reasonable resentment among amateur bloggers that their hobby has been stolen, bastardised and sold back to them.

This happens to all kinds of subcultures, of course, including punk. You know much more about this than I do, but I'd venture that a fair few record labels thought they could make some cash out of selling acts that had sounded quite punky but weren't as wayward/dangerous/unreliable as e.g. the Sex Pistols. I suppose (though I don't know) that's how New Wave got going - as a more radio-friendly diluted punk that had something of the punk ethic and zeitgeist (sorry), but with the sting taken out.

Anyway, what gets me is that at the same time as having our hobby sold back to us (sometimes in barely recognisable formats), we have to put up with the people selling it sneering at us and calling us 'self-obsessed', or 'digital narcissists', or 'the kind of people who write round-robins at Christmas'. Which is just rude.

So, in the immortal words of NTK*, they stole our revolution. But given that most of them barely seem to comprehend what it is they've stolen, I don't think it will be particularly hard to steal it back. In fact I think we might even end up doing it unwittingly, just by existing as a mass force that's united by hyperlinks. We'll see, anyway.

* Which may originally have been the immortal words of U2, but I'm not sure.

Rog said...

I never imagined I'd see Mick Jagger Knighted or Bob Dylan hosting a Radio Two easy listening show. If the bastard now accuses me of writing Round Robin Christmas Cards I'll bite his ankle!

PS I'm now care of:

Tim F said...

Thanks, Ally. I've let them know about the glitch, but have has no reply. Maybe it's a karmic punishment for my last post. Maybe I'm turning into Tessa Jowell. And I would have picked new laptop electronica as a suitable analogy, except for the fact that I'm a sad old fart and have trouble getting my head around all this hi-tech malarkey. But I can just about get my head around the Kid A thing, and I think it's bang on. Can I join RSTA, please?

Jun: What she said, as is usually the case. Or maybe just an autistic blogger? Blaugger? Asplogger's Syndrome?

Annie: Some people have been known to stick links in the body of their Cif comments. (URLs convert to links automatically.)
But yes, it is a drag. And you're fab too, babe.

I kinda like the 50s vibe, Miss Peel. But 50s futuristic - Forbidden Planet, theremins, etc.

Yes, Patroclus, I would have thought that, deprived of a comment function, they might have gone around looking for someone else to bash up (like those people in Wales who victimised a paediatrician). I think being paid makes you a pro; but it's when the nature of the medium changes that we have a problem of definition. And, as you suggest, that's how New Wave started. The Pistols and the Clash were still punks, even when they were on a major label; other acts, as you suggest, hitched a ride on the bandwagon, even if they'd been around for a good while already. (The Police being an obvious example; also The Stranglers, Ian Dury, Blondie, etc etc.)

Yes, Murph. The metamorphosis of Radio 2 is one of the more startling developments of the past decade, isn't it? But they still have The Organist Entertains. Hurrah!

patroclus said...

I have to admit to a sneaking fondness for the word 'blogosphere' as well. It's the least ugly of all the blog-related neologisms. Also, if we're on about blogging being a bit like laptoptronica, it also sounds a bit like Biosphere - and thus an ideal place for ambient noodling.

*goes back to ambient noodling*

Anonymous said...

Pats (Tim, sorry to abuse your hospitality), where do you also blog professionally, or is that a secret?

And sorry to be an Asplogger's blaugger, but should 'neoblogism' have a second g? Otherwise, I can't help wanting to pronounce it neo-blow-jism, which is just too rude.

Foilwoman said...

I just came here because First Nations said that your (Tim Footman's) book does not suck, which is high praise indeed. Now I find myself reading your blog, and possibly your neo-blog (is that was Comment is Free is?) as well. Too confusing. I must drink more wine before trying to tackle this again.

Tim F said...

I had ambient noodles for lunch yesterday.

Bib: I was trying to draw attention to the fact that it was a neologism, but maybe I was being too much of a smartarse.

Foil: Always drink wine before reading this. I don't write it if I can stand unaided.

patroclus said...

BiB: (sorry Tim, this is like passing notes in class) I shall send you a link, but verily it is very dull and unattractive (not unlike myself).

Anonymous said...

Pats, I am convinced you are neither dull nor unattractive. But thank you!

Tim, no, my apologies. I was being whatever arse it is that isn't smart. A dullarse? A dimarse? It came to me in the night that OF COURSE there should only be one g, otherwise the neologism pun is lost. Please ban me from commenting on your site.

Flirty Something said...

Bloody hell, when did blogging get so bloody complicated.

Annie said...

" those people in Wales who victimised a paediatrician"

God, I remember that. Didn't realise it was in Wales though. How embarrassing.

Unknown said...

you're implying that you can't be a blogger if you got paid?