Archive for ‘This blog’ Category

A Quarter Million Page Views.

datePosted on 15:50, July 6th, 2010 by Pablo

In the scheme of all blog things, it is a small milestone but still worth a mention. Yesterday we passed 250,000 page views. It has been 18 months since KP started up, and we have built a steady readership base since then. We tend to get between 300-600 page views per day, 200-300 on the weekends. Given that we average around +/- 20 posts a month, that is not too bad. I expect that readership will increase once Anita comes back on line after her hiatus.

I tend to think of KP as a”boutique” blog: non-partisan. non-orthodox and non- doctrinaire Left,  more studied (some would say over-intellectualised) than slanted, as much class-oriented as it is post-modern (especially when it comes to identity, environment and gender), with posts that are considerably longer than the norm. For NZ it is also different in the amount of coverage dedicated to comparative politics, international relations and security affairs. It takes a certain type of reader to enjoy such a mix, and given our rules of decorum, a certain type of commentator to reflect on the posts.

All of which is to say thanks for the reading. We shall endeavour to keep providing informed commentary and critical analysis of contemporary issues, and we hope that you will keep us honest with your thoughtful critiques and points of order.

A Weird Request.

datePosted on 19:56, May 28th, 2010 by Pablo

Some readers may have taken note of the fact that there is an alternative blog awards competition underway, created because the Qantas Media Awards blog category has become a bad joke. In a comment made on my last post about strategic culture, someone from the alternative blog awards organising committee (the so-called NZ Bloggers Union) has urged KP to enter the competition. I want to ask readers whether that is worth doing.

I say this because I am not a fan of awards competitions of any sort outside of sports and military affairs. But that is my prejudice. The criteria for entry is that nominees provide 4 posts from 2009 as material for the judges to consider. The details of the competitition can be found here:

http://airnewzealandbestblogaward.blogspot.com/

I can think of four posts written by Anita that alone could provide could material for the judges, and can say the same thing about Lew’s writing. My personal opinion is that some of the things they have written stand out as among the best NZ socio-political blogging in recent years, with a few of their posts being absolute game-changers when it comes to informed public discourse on given subjects. But, as I have said to them, I am not sure that the submission is worth doing because the deck may be stacked in favour of larger, more rabble-rousing and partisan blogs that prefer polemics and diatribes rather than reasoned debate.

I have two questions for those who may be interested in these awards: 1) should KP enter the competition? 2) If so, what four posts would you select as the most outstanding and representative examples of what KP has to offer?

The deadline for entries is June 1.

No offense will be taken if readers opine that we should not enter. I only put this out to the readership because I am of two minds about the whole thing and could not select four representative posts in any event.

Overzealous spamtrap

datePosted on 10:46, March 26th, 2010 by Lew

spam
Hi folks, for the last few days Akismet has been eating legitimate comments, and since it’s usually so reliable I’ve not bothered to check. So I’ve just released them all. Thanks to Neil for letting me know. If a comment doesn’t show up, you can email lew@kiwipolitico.com and I’ll make sure it gets published.

Sorry about that. As you were. I’ll try to find time to reply, but it probably won’t be today.

L

Week off

datePosted on 10:16, February 15th, 2010 by Lew

Dear KP readers,

After a flurry of activity over the past few days, I’ll be a bit scarce for the coming week. Pablo is also travelling and will likely not be posting. In the mean time, here’s a forum for you to bring up and discuss things you think are interesting. The usual standards apply.

Also, if anyone wants to submit a more formal guest post for consideration, email me — lew@kiwipolitico.com.

Cheers,
L

Resuming transmission, slowly.

datePosted on 15:29, January 14th, 2010 by Pablo

Feeling a bit like Rip Van Wrinkle after a good holiday spent in mostly wild areas without full access to news, I am slowly regaining my  “urbane” senses. But I have mixed feelings about my return to the Asian city in which I live. The best part of the trip was breathing real, clean air, feeling the breeze and listening to the night-time silence and bird singing at dawn, swimming in unpolluted open water, seeing wildlife in their natural settings rather than in cages, talking with people wedded to the earth or at least without pretense, and forgetting what day of the week it was. Nothing my wife and I took in the way of pictures can accurately capture the fullness, nuance, and complexities of the trip, which is why the return to the noise, smell and rush of the city is underwhelming.

While away I was struck by how, in virtually all of the places we stayed, other than local stories the majority of what passed for available global news were truncated newswire or US/European newspaper bylines and (mostly) celebrity-focused nonsense. I return to much of the same here, as is the case with the on-line versions of NZ news outlets. So, in a sense, I really did not miss anything by being away (save an aborted terrorist attack on a US-bound  airplane and, much more importantly, a successful suicide bombing attack on a CIA post in Khost, the sequels to which will be very far-reaching). In fact, it was perversely delightful to not have to be up to date on anything other than the tides and  wind, to wake up with the light, and to utterly depend on local knowlege rather than familiarity with world events to make the days interesting and enjoyable.

For their part, while I was away NZ political bloggers who continued to post regularly (unlike us more relaxed folk at KP, who actually have lives and priorities other than blogging) appear to have been obsessed with themselves and their self-importance, led by one particularly sociopathic character with a serious martydom complex (which in turn is a reflection of a deeply narcissistic personality gone into disorder). Some things never do change.

What has changed is my approach to the second year of blogging at KP. I want to be more judicious in my posts, and to sparse them out more evenly relative to my editorial and scholarly work. Last year I found that I was at times blogging just for the sake of it rather than to make a point or critical observation about something of substance. Some of that is due to having too much time on my hands, but some of it is due to getting sucked into what I see as a blogging syndrome: an addiction to the immediate call and response effect of posting, which for someone who likes to argue and debate, is the purest opiate of all. In that sense, blogging is the opposite of “real” scholarship in that the latter is done a solitary pursuit in which feedback, in the form of peer review and critiques, comes infrequently and in highly formalised format (such as via referee manuscript evaluations and comments on conference papers). In fact, original research publication is very much a lonely, lengthy, painful affair in which devastating core critique, rejection and self-doubt are all part of the process for all but the most brilliant of minds. None of that happens on a blog, in which the poster/author is also the censor (should s/he care to be), and in which the commentariat often is unversed (or less informed) on the subject relative to the author. Editorial writing is somewhere in between, in that it is light on original research but retains an element of editorial scrutiny and critical feedback in the form of editorial responses or letters to the editor, some of which can be quite arbitrary and politicised ( for example, I have yet to figure out what the NZ Herald editorial policy is, and on what grounds it publishes op eds).

All of which is to say that I am going to refocus my energies this year on scholarship rather than blogging, which means a diminished output for the latter and hopefully an increase in the former. That certainly does not mean abandonment of blogging altogether–I still expect to post regularly–but simply posting at a slower, more measured rate. I also need to reflect more on my choice of subjects for this particular forum, as I do not want to get trapped into repeatedly posting on subjects that, although of high interest to me, do not necessarily occupy the attention of my colleagues in the KP collective or the readers (who are the audience which I hope to engage). That more narrow focus can be left for the scholarly audiences to which I seek to appeal, with blogging focused on more contemporary and variegated, although no less important subjects. I shall continue, as before, to offer episodic links to the Word From Afar column at Scoop.

Happy Holidays and a year end summary.

datePosted on 19:34, December 23rd, 2009 by Pablo

I am taking off for 3 weeks to do some R&R overseas, and will not be on line for most of that time if at all. I just wanted to wish readers and KP colleagues alike the best for the holidays and upcoming year. It has been an interesting first year at KP, and for me personally. Until I was invited here I was a regular reader of various blogs, but now have a better understanding of the time and effort put into them. I learned a a lot in the process, mainly that reasoned debate is a precious commodity and there is way too much nastiness posing as “argument” on NZ political blogs. However, here we fought the good fight to keep things (more or less) civil and to filter out vulgarity and ad hominen attacks, and that stance appears to be working. I must thank the regular commentators not only for their input but also for their decorum.

For the record, we have had just over 180,000 page views of 360 posts with 5736 comments since we opened shop in early January 2009. I have done around 75 posts. Most have been serious reflections, a few have been deliberately polemical, and a couple were done just for fun. 

Much thanks has to go to Anita for keeping the site updated and ongoing while contributing her own valuable insights, to Lew for adding high quality argument to the KP collective, to our guest posters for expanding the scope of our debates, and to jafapete for helping originate the idea of this blog even if he has been sparse with his posts. To all of you, your efforts are appreciated on this end.

Not sure what 2010 is going to bring for me but the good news is that I will be spending a month in NZ as of mid-Feb doing a mix of research and personal business. Now THAT is something to look forward to!

What’s on your mind?

datePosted on 12:33, October 10th, 2009 by Lew

Dear Kiwipolitico readers,

As you may have noticed, posts have been somewhat infrequent over the past month or so. We all have busy lives, and other responsibilities are preventing us from maintaining our customary blogging pace.

So, here’s an opportunity for you to hold forth on a topic of your choosing in a guest post. What’s eating you? Something you’ve been aching to talk about, but haven’t done so for fear of running off-topic; or a critique or comment which didn’t seem appropriate; or a matter of burning importance which hasn’t received adequate treatment.

Send us an abstract (in comments or by email to lew@kiwipolitico.com), and if we like your pitch we’ll give you a chance to post it — under your own name, a pseudonym or anonymously. As usual, the standard of a post’s content and reasoning is what matters, not its ideological alignment; although it would be advisable to read the comments policy before beginning.

So, what’s on your mind?

Cheers,
L

Another post on blog moderation.

datePosted on 14:14, August 27th, 2009 by Pablo

When Anita and Jafapete invited me to join this blog collective, I agreed on condition that we assiduously avoid descending into the flame wars and rant fests so prevalent in the blogosphere, and that we be non-partisan (as I do not want to be seen as a Labour party toadie).  It turns out that we are unanimous in our opinion on both conditions. Even so, in the first few months of operation I took much flack because of my attempts to impose a “zero tolerance” approach to vulgarity and ad hominem attacks (and yes, some of my early attempts at moderation were quite crude). This included, not surprisingly, personal attacks on me (complete with the usual cheap shots about my well known employment dispute) on other blogs. But proof of the worthiness of that stance is now evident.

On the one hand, many well-known blogs–be they right or left–that do not practice moderation of posts and comments have descended into what colloquially are known as “troll farms:” places where the unhinged, cowardly and blindly zealous (as well as purposeful stirrers and trouble makers) trade insults and threats behind pseudonyms working from the safety of their keyboards. This has taken a toll particularly on the right side of the spectrum, where absent Helen Clark (“Klark,” in the right wing lexicon) and Labour in government, the more rabid commentators have taken to fighting amongst themselves over who is most pure to conservative principles and espousing a variety of conspiracy theories borrowed from US nutters and their media facilitators. Several right-wing blogs have simply shut down or splintered. The overall effect is to damage the brand of those that remain. This is particularly the case with DPF’s showcase, in which his reluctance to censor the hateful and vitriolic has seen many of his reasoned commentators decamp entirely, leaving a number of the threads to fester in their nastiness.

The Left side of the spectrum has its own version of this decline. Besides the overtly and blindly partisan scribbling of party mouthpieces, some of the major “independent” Left blogs allow their own version of flaming, to say nothing of serving as conduits for anti-Semitic rants posing as critiques of Zionism and Israel, blanket hatred of the US and hyperbolic attacks on National and its policies (which, if I oppose them in general, are not quite the “fascist”  measures that some of the Left blogs claim them to be).

Which is why I feel quite vindicated in holding the hard line on comments. Over the short life of this blog the commentary and debates have been notable for their (general) civility and intelligence. In fact, the level of discourse is such that the comment threads are often more insightful than the original posts. A regular cadre of highly informed commentators contribute to the discussion, and in the case of Pascal’s Bookie, joined the collective. Meanwhile the ranters (both Left and Right), after initially trying to inject their venom into our arguments, and given up and moved back to their (respective) caves. Even so, we continue to have to moderate the commentary, now mostly for vulgarity (as it is a NZ cultural feature, it seems, to be reflexively profane). But the larger point has been proven: if one wants to have reasoned commentary and debate on political and social issues in a blog format, then moderation is absolutely necessary so as to ward off the inevitable intrusion of trolls (be they ideological or by nature). Over time the need for moderation subsides as the commentariat becomes self-enforcing in its expression (as has been the case here), but it remains as the default principle for newcomers and established commentators alike.

There may be a place for flaming and trolling on other types of blog, but when it comes to political, economic and social matters, reason and grace in expression are the standard by which we live.

Get off my lawn, you damn kids

datePosted on 08:15, August 26th, 2009 by Lew

exurbiaI will be scarce around these parts for the next few weeks because I am trading my beloved south coast for the one to the north-west, having bought a house in the ‘burbs. Three bedrooms and a garage, a character doer-upper with good bones which we got for a good price, our own half-gallon quarter-acre pavlova paradise. On Friday I suppose I will officially be middle-class, as if I wasn’t already. Before I know it I’ll be caring about things like whipper-snappers tagging my fence and rates and tree-pruning restrictions. Before then, I have to figure out how to move house with an increasingly mobile and ingenious nine-month-old.

This will require some significant changes, including acclimatising to what in NZ terms is a very long commute (by train, although I might consider carpooling since I’ve heard good things about the GWRC scheme). I will likely have much less time to write here, and elsewhere. But I will still be around.

L

I happened to be looking at our logs (weird malformed URLs which 404 *shrug*) and noticed our search terms listing, odd as usual, so here are some of my favourites from the last week:

  • objectivism and harry potter
  • should women only use provacation as a defence
  • werewolf ian wishert – 5 hits, really!
  • who is matthew hooton
  • why is new zealand racist sexist and homophobic
  • Latin America progressive forces on the decline
  • tumeke bro
  • herald mental illness 2009
  • mutual exploitation model of the media
  • social movement unionism
  • what will happen if there’s no intellectual property
  • taliban negotiating table afghanistan mission territories

and finally, the ever present reminder of this post:

  • pink

Looking at the search terms always makes me marvel at the eclectic readership we must have, but today I’m concerned that we’re not meeting your expectations. So, in the spirit of BLiP, can anyone answer in 25 words any of the implicit questions? After all, what is the connection between objectivism and Harry Potter? Why is New Zealand racist, sexist and homophobic? and who really is Matthew Hooton?

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