Saturday, January 25, 2003

Two steps forward and one back

Well, as you can see, here I am back at Blogspot after a 3 month experiment in manual blogging. I found it had numerous advantages over the frustratingly idiosyncratic, bug-ridden and unstable Blogspot system. However, Blogspot has one critical advantage from my viewpoint. You can make posts almost instantaneously from anywhere, and without slow, painstaking copying and pasting of the sort I had to do every time. The result of the extra time involved in maintaining a manual blog was that my posts have become increasingly infrequent of late because of time demands.

You'll also have noticed that the blog has a new name and address. The pretext should be clear from the quote in the top banner. The motivation for the changed name is that I wanted to depersonalise the blog to some extent. A couple of people have expressed some interest in participating in a group blog (like Catallaxy or the new Libertarian blog), and I though a slightly more generic name might assist that process. Given that the demands on my time are likely to increase if anything from now, I suspect the only viable way of sustaining sufficiently frequent posts to retain an audience is to bring in other contributors. Any readers (or even other bloggers who may be feeling the strain of keeping up a decent frequency of posts) interested in particpating in a group blog may wish to email me separately (which reminds me I forgot to put an email link in the template - with a bit of luck the oversight will be fixed by the time you read this).

I actually think moving back to Blogger is positive in another sense. Posting manually (and creating archive files, indexing each post etc) was so laborious that I tended to concentrate on a relatively small number of longer posts. The effort involved for just a short "grab" tended to feel too great. The result was, I think, a blog that was a little too solemn and turgid. I think a better blend between short, catchy blogs and longer, contemplative pieces can be achieved using Blogger. I'll also be able to blog from NTU much more easily (when I feel like a break from whatever I'm doing). It was also very complicated to blog from NTU manually. I could ftp to the site OK, but I then needed to email the post to my home computer and update all the folders when I got home in order to keep them in sync. Again very time-consuming.

However, creating that complex, indexed blog structure at The Parish Pump wasn't all wasted. I still intend uploading longer essays there and then posting a short introductory 'teaser' extract here on the front page. It helps to keep the front page at a manageable size, and avoids making readers scroll down past Jack Strocchi-length posts.

I should also thank Tim Dunlop for putting me onto the W.Bloggar program, which certainly makes blogging on Blogspot much easier and more flexible (and gives a much wider range of formatting options without needing to key in the HTML tags manually). I highly recommend W.Bloggar to other bloggers.

Finally, you'll notice that I've implemented drop down menu boxes for the blogrolls, and separated bloggers into right, left and centrist orientations. Feel free to dispute my classification if you believe you belong elsewhere. However, the wonderful thing about blogging is that I can appoint myself the final judge of those sorts of things. Also, I'm not soliciting yet another argument about whether 'left', 'right' etc are useful classifications. I agree they have their limitations and can be misleading. Few of us fit neatly into boxes of that sort, and everyone means something slightly different when they use the terms. The bottom line is that I had to divide up the blogroll somehow, or it would have been too long for the drop down menus! I thought about adopting John Quiggin's division of "cultural and satirical blogs", but I eventually concluded that the traditional left/right/centre classifications were preferable. It should be interesting to compare my subjective perceptions with bloggers' positioning on the Political Compass chart, when Robert Corr finishes updating it. Actually, now that I look at it, Rob has updated it. However, he left Bargarz and me out (even though we both sent him our results from the quiz). Slack bastard! I'm miffed now!