A little over two years ago KP was launched. It started as the brainchild of Anita and Jafapete, who then invited me to join. The idea was to have a non-partisan, avowedly “intellectual” moderate Left outlet (I use the word “intellectual” carefully these days in light of recent debates about that term). Jafa subsequently had to leave due to other concerns, but we got lucky and Lew came on board. There have been others briefly attached to the blog and Anita has had to take a long hiatus, but KP keeps rolling along in its small niche in the blogosphere. Lew and I do the posting these days, and we are always on the lookout for someone to join us in the event that Anita cannot return (or even if she does). Â We remain committed to civilised debate, which is why swear words are censored and trolling and personal attacks largely deleted. Only one person has been blacklisted, and that was because I accidentally hit the “blacklist” rather than “delete” button when dealing with a personal attack comment from an otherwise passionate but sane regular reader (his comments now go directly to the spam filter where we fish them out). Â And no, the individual in question is not that rabid anti-communist ranter Russell. In general, other than some quarrels with commentators and my occasional bouts of grumpiness or frustration, I think that we have kept the discourse pretty civil.
The stats show a decent progression. We have made 568 posts and received 8,676 comments. We have had over 336,500 unique page views. Most of our linkages come from other New Zealand political blogs, although Facebook and Twitter referrals are increasing. We have elicited some interesting responses, both in public and in private, from members of the NZ policy community.
I do not have access to our demographic profile but judging from regular commentator’s profiles reckon that the readers are largely NZ resident male Pakeha with university degrees and Left inclinations. I hope that there is a significant number of women and Maori readers, but am concerned that with Anita absent the female readership may have dropped (hence our interest in soliciting the participation of someone whose primary interests involve gender, environmental, health and welfare politics). There seems to be fair bit of RSS feeds to the KP site, and our overseas readership shows signs of growth. All in all, we are small but comfortable given what we are in terms of content and where we are in terms of the ideological spectrum represented in the blogosphere.
I cannot speak for Anita or Lew by I find that blogging offers me an outlet that complements my editorial and scholarly writing. In particular it allows me to address current events as they happen, and provides a daily dose of mental exercise in the form of the commentary and debate. Although I have been told in this forum that I am a conservative security and international affairs commentator, a check of my posts will reveal that there is more to my interests than guns, war and power politics. Among other things I have posted, with a Left focus, on comparative labour politics, done a 5 part series on democracy (focusing on NZ), covered regime characteristic and cultural dynamics in a variety of places, thrown in some game-theoretic and rational choice-inspired essays, and even made a few attempts at humor or NZ focused social commentary. That range is much harder to cover in scholarly publications, and editorial writing tends to be more episodic and medium- to long-term in its focus. Thus I am thankful for the opportunity to use KP as an outlet for expressing views on a number of issues of contemporary import (at least to me).
I look forward to more writing and more readership growth in 2011, as well as to my return to NZ after a few years abroad. It will be interesting to see if that shift effects my choice of subjects, but whatever the case it will be good to be physically closer to my KP colleagues (who I know personally and have high regard for) as well as any new contributor(s) who may volunteer for the project of keeping another informed NZ-based non-partisan Left perspective alive and well on the internet. And, of course, much thanks to you readers for coming back and sharing your thoughts with us. We may not agree on most things but it is comforting and invigorating to have you as interlocutors with whom to hash out ideas and opinions.
A voces, muito obrigado.