Posts Tagged ‘blogging’
A fellow named Andrew Geddis posted on another NZ blog a post about electoral reform in which he takes a swipe at KP for not having “dirt under its fingernails.” I do not know this fellow, and he certainly does not know me. Nor does he seem to know that KP is a collective, not an individual effort.
I take it that he believes that KP (whether singular or plural) does not practice what it preaches, as if KP was some sort of effete armchair intellectual circle jerk that is not grounded in real life praxis or any experience with real politics. In a word, he appears to think that KP is all bluster and no substance.
I cannot speak for the other KP members but I know them and can say with some confidence that we, collectively and individually have, are and/or will continue to engage in real politics as well as in political discussion and debate. My experience was mainly in US government service of one sort or another as well as academia (teaching aspects of politics), and after I came to NZ, in voluntarilly helping in the defense of Ahmed Zaoui and the Urewera 18 against scurrilous charges of terrorism, among other things academic and not.
I am therefore somewhat perplexed by Mr. Geddis’s negative mention of KP. Does he have a beef with one of us? Is there some history I am unaware of? Otherwise I am at a loss to explain what in any event appears to be an unprovoked jibe that has no basis in fact.
Can anyone illuminate me as to what might be going on?
Update: As several readers including Andrew himself have pointed out, the remark that I found untoward was in fact a joke. As I said in the comments, that pretty much confirms that I am humorless, or at least thin-skinned where KP’s integrity and “grounding” is concerned. I apologise to Andrew for misconstruing his words. What is interesting, once again, is that in contrast to more thoughtful posts, this post on a trivial matter enjoyed a strong upward spike in page views. I guess even reasoned people like to read about unreasonable silliness.
Posted on 02:17, September 5th, 2010 by Pablo
Over the past few months my partner has observed that KP has increasingly become a boys club. Part of that, she notes, is that I write about security things and boys like guns and war, so tend to dominate commentary on those themes. I have pointed out that I write about plenty of other things, and that Lew covers a range of subjects that are not exclusively “male” in orientation. And yet 95% of our commentators are male. And, as my partner also observes, their comments tend to become the intellectual equivalent of pissing matches or penis length arguments rather than reasonable exchange of views in which the worth of opposing perspectives is acknowledged. She includes me in the pissing match crowd.
I attribute the apparent masculinisation of KP in large part to the fact that Anita’s long hiatus has deprived the blog of the gender balance it needs, in part because Anita writes from a feminist perspective and about gender issues from a wimin’s point of view. That of itself is interesting because when she does (and Anita does not write exclusively about gender-related themes), the comment threads show a disproportionate number of females in the mix. In effect, there appears to be a self-segregation going on: men read and comment about “boy” topics and wimin read and comment about “girl” themes. This can be seen on a larger scale in the topics covered by political blogs written by wimin versus those (the majority) written by men, which makes me think that the “problem” is not exclusive to KP.
This bothers me. I do like to think of myself as writing about exclusively “male” topics since I believe that subjects such as international relations, foreign policy, labour politics, democratisation and regime change, and security issues are (or should be) matters of universal interest. Likewise, I do not believe that topics such as rape, child-raising or workplace harassment are exclusively female concerns. But until Anita comes back, it appears that KP is becoming the political blog equivalent of a (somewhat polite) rugby clubhouse.
So I guess the question of the day is whether there is a self-segregation of wimin’s versus male topics, and if in fact this blog, for worse in my view, has become masculinised (sic) beyond repair.
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.
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:
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.
After a short week overseas I came back to find myself involved over the weekend in another argument about blog etiquette. It started out when I read Not PC’s post on a troll. The issue basically boils down to the fact that one particularly nasty right wing frother (think Jesse Helms channeling Joe McCarthy and Glen Beck, but without the charm of either; to wit: racist, homophobic, foul-mouthed and pig ignorant)–who in the spirit of things we shall call “ratbuggered–” did enough to get himself banned and named by the blog owner. I weighed in on the side of the owner in the comments section, even while noting that here at KP we have put ratbuggered on auto-moderation so as to see if he has anything reasonable to say (so far he has not), and that as practice we do not “out” people who we have had trouble with (even though we have the ability to identify them). I noted that there are no universal laws or code of ethics preventing the outing of individuals using pseudonyms on blogs, for whatever reasons the blog owners may choose. There was much to and fro in the comments section, including from ratbuggered himself (who apparently lives in Tauranga. I shall leave you to draw conclusions).
The argument got picked up at No Minister, and things got pretty heated in the comments section. I weighed in some more, in further depth, arguing that market logics should determine blog traffic and that the blogosphere was ( come to think of it, like the Hobbesian “state of nature” that realists see to be the basic structure of international relations) a self-enforcing society with no universal values or ethics (even if some may share implicit ethical constraints and some others may develop mutually binding rules of conduct)). For that I got robustly vilified by ratbuggered and his ideological soulmates (including the No Minister contributor aptly calling himself “Adolf”). I lot of it was name-calling rather than counter-argument.
What did surface as a counter-argument was amusing. Apparently these champions of free speech, liberty, freedom and individualism–the same ones who delighted in the outing of the two beneficiaries by Paula Bennett a few weeks back–believe that it is “unethical” to name an unwanted and repeatedly intrusive troll once all other appeals for him to desist have failed. PC weighed in as well and the entire argument turned into a circus. Rather than try to repeat myself and capture what others said, I urge you to read the entire thread as it is quite entertaining.
What it confirms in my mind, besides the fact that ratbuggered lives in a parallel Strangelovian universe that can only cause one to pity anyone sharing his household (should that even be feasible), is how hypocritical some of the rightwingers are. They love the free market when it suits them, but step on any of their self-righteous beliefs with market arguments and their closet social authoritarian viscerally jumps out. Ratbuggered is clearly an armchair bully and coward of no consequence (and is, indeed, a troll of the first order), but it sure is wild to see some of the blogging right turn against markets, choice and individual responsibility when these run counter to their preferred view of the world.
All in all it was glimpse into a netherworld of unreason and hatred that, like plane crashes and train wrecks, is morbidly fascinating if intellectually terminal. Although I do not agree with most of Not PC’s political views, at least his is a reasoned discourse, which is precisely why ratbuggered found no haven on his blog. May the same occur here, regardless of the ideological persuasion of the commentariat.